• Anthea Butler on WHYY’s “Radio Times” discussing her book White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America.
The subtitle is important here. Butler’s point is that “morality” and “the politics of morality” are not the same. That often they are not even compatible.
Butler’s book came out around the same time as Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne, but it did not attract the same kind of direct attacks on itself and its author as J&JW has some of the most vocal proponents of patriarchal white Christian nationalist evangelicalism. It’s partly because, I think, these guys are – rightly – even more scared of Butler and his argument. (Heck, they may hate the book, but they appreciate saying “Jesus and John Wayne,” but they can’t even bring themselves to read the name of Butler’s book aloud.) And it’s partly because she’s already outside the doors that they s imagine keeping. Butler is an Ivy League Catholic professor, not someone they can “farewell” from their churches or they can get billionaire right-wing evangelical donors fired from his job.
Also, butler confused them – and not just in the way that everyone who is not a white male American Christian confuses them. She was raised Catholic, then converted to white evangelicalism – she graduated from Fuller Seminary – but then converted return. White evangelical leaders are fine with evangelicals becoming Catholics as long as they seek greater power to criminalize abortion and homosexuality, but when they encounter a born-again Catholic who has chosen to do so for another reason, they’re just confused.
(None of that means Butler and her book aren’t under attack. She’s a smart black woman who’s right, and that means she’ll always be attacked by people who will never be either of those things. Her hate mail is, I’m sure, an incessant, vast, despicable cesspool. But the smarmy Old, Restless & Reformed Theobros and their Powers That Be of official white evangelicaldom allies don’t attack it publicly in the same way they are Du Mez and Beth Allison Barr.)
• Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City professor and blogger too hot for Patheos, says he learned he was descended from one of the founders of Providence. Roger Williams and a dozen other religious refugees, including John Throckmorton, left behind the hegemonic Christian nationalism of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and established that their Rhode Island town would “pursue liberty of conscience.”
My first thought on reading this as a Baptist was that Dr Throckmorton should join us because after all being a Baptist is in his DNA. But then I remembered that was the exact opposite of how we Baptists think it works, which is sort of our main focus.
• Republican state senator, MAGA-insurgent, white Christian nationalist and white nationalist Christian Doug Mastriano successfully graduated from my Baptist foster mother without ever knowing what Williams and John Throckmorton understood of “freedom of conscience”. And now, Mastriano has announced that he’s running for governor of Pennsylvania and also, apparently, for king of Israel and Judah: “A devout Christian conservative launched his campaign for governor with… . a shofar?”
Matt Shuham of TPM does a very good job of summarizing the strange mania of white Christian nationalists to appropriate this Jewish symbol. But it misses the supercessionist angle we discussed here last year, so let’s revisit that:
These Christians like their idea of the shofar because in their minds Christian America is the new Israel, replacing it and claiming for itself (for America or for white America) every promise or blessing or reference to Israel from anywhere in the Bible.
Supersessionism is not specifically about America. It’s the very bad idea that the [Gentile] the church replaces Israel as God’s chosen people. In theory and in the abstract, this does not necessarily imply a Christian nationalism that confuses this church with America as God’s chosen nation, but in practice here in America it still does. In any case, Christians, stay away from the shofars, please.
• Speaking of white Christian nationalist gubernatorial candidates, here’s some news from Alabama: “James opens gubernatorial campaign with gospel appeal.”
Company owner Tim James appealed to evangelical Christian voters as he opened his Republican campaign for governor of Alabama on Wednesday, railing against the threat of ‘ungodly Marxism’, citing the scriptures and claiming that God had called the conservative state to lead the nation. …
James, a toll road promoter who said he was not vaccinated against COVID-19, said Republican leaders had not done enough to fight vaccination mandates, allowing one to take effect at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before the office of the State Attorney General. intervened. James said he would fight the “casino barons” to keep Alabama from becoming “the Las Vegas of the South.”
I wonder how this fight against the “casino barons” is going to end with a white Christian nationalist electoral base that worships a casino baron as their lord and saviour.
• My favorite surprise ending [Spoiler Alert for a 114-year-old novel now in the public domain] is in GK Chesterton’s Dazzling Stranger Than Expected Book The man who was Thursday. Our hero, an undercover policeman, eventually infiltrates the inner circle of the anarchist conspiracy only to realize that all other members of this inner circle is Also a plainclothes policeman.
That’s what reminded me of reading this article by Miguel Ruiz, “Confessions of a Former ‘Cult Leader'”. through years of practice. All these years he has been, like Thursday, constantly worried and scared of being discovered and exposed as infiltrators and counterfeiters.
But Ruiz also suspects and alludes to something poor Thursday never suspected until it was too late: that everyone else is faking it too. He says that, to him, performing a particular expression of presumed love and devotion superseded any genuine expression of those things, and made the love and devotion themselves seem distant and unreachable.
“I can’t help thinking that I’m not alone in my story,” he says. And I can’t help but think that’s true.