Monday, December 18, 2017

Amy Sullivan on the Weaponized (White) Fox Evangelicalism That Is America's New Religion: "You Can Do Anything and Still Be on the Right Side"

Amy Sullivan, "America's New Religion: Fox Evangelicalism":

[T]he nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism. This emerging religious worldview — let's call it "Fox evangelicalism" — is preached from the pulpits of conservative media outlets like Fox News. It imbues secular practices like shopping for gifts with religious significance and declares sacred something as worldly and profane as gun culture. . . . 
The result is a malleable religious identity that can be weaponized not just to complain about department stores that hang "Happy Holidays" banners, but more significantly, in support of politicians like Mr. Trump or Mr. Moore — and of virtually any policy, so long as it is promoted by someone Fox evangelicals consider on their side of the culture war. 
"It explains how much evangelicals have moved the goal post," said Mr. [Jonathan] Martin. "If there's not a moral theology or ethic to it, but it's about playing for the right team, you can do anything and still be on the right side."

The weaponized Christianity Amy Sullivan describes here as "Fox evangelicalism" is, as far as I can see, a singular source of evil in the world today. When any form of Christianity leads people to welcome with open arms the likes of the moral monstrosity in the White House and the one who just ran for the Senate from Alabama, something has gone deeply awry in its notion of Christianity.

When it expends countless amounts of money and energy attacking marginalized communities, LGBTQ people, immigrants, the poor; when it attacks healthcare coverage for needy people while spouting pro-life slogans; when it cozies up to ruthless capitalism and its exploitation of the needy; when it chants slogans about building walls and turning dark-skinned immigrants away; when it revels in filthy racism; when it makes common cause with the gun industry and resists gun control:

This is not Christianity in any meaningful shape, form, or fashion. It's time we begin to state this openly and honestly. Yes, people can believe anything that they wish — that the moon is made of green cheese and the world sprang into being in 7 days 4,000 years ago, if they so choose.

But other Christians have a responsibility to push back against this warped, demonic misrepresentation of the Christian religion, and our entire democracy has a right to push back against the attempt of these folks to gain theocratic control of our society as they try to burn it to the ground and rebuild it in "God's" (i.e., their own) image.

And, as a footnote to Amy Sullivan's analysis, note Tiffany Stanley's article "This Evangelical Leader Denounced Trump. Then the Death Threats Started" at Politico yesterday:

During the campaign, as other white evangelicals coalesced around the Republican nominee, [Jen] Hatmaker effectively joined the coterie of "Never Trump" evangelicals, telling her more than half a million Facebook followers that Donald Trump made her "sad and horrified and despondent." After the "Access Hollywood" tape leaked and prominent evangelical men came to Trump's defense, she tweeted: "We will not forget. Nor will we forget the Christian leaders that betrayed their sisters in Christ for power." Then, in an interview with Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt, she made what was a stunning admission for her evangelical community: She said she supported same-sex relationships. 
That's when the full weight of conservative Christian outrage crashed down on Hatmaker. There were soon angry commenters and finger-wagging bloggers. She says people in her little town of Buda, Texas, just south of Austin, pulled her children aside and said terrible things about her and her husband. She was afraid to be in public, and she wasn’t sleeping or eating well. "The way people spoke about us, it was as if I had never loved Jesus a day in my life," Hatmaker recently told an audience in Dallas. The gilded auditorium was quiet, its 2,300 seats filled to capacity with nearly all women. "And I was just an ally," she said. "Think about how our gay brothers and sisters feel."

Christians who have bowed before the altar of militarism, capitalism, racism, and homophobia (i.e., the altar on which the moral monster in the White House sits) loathe the phrase "weaponized Christianity." Their response to the phrase tells us it's hitting a target, a spot inside their hearts and minds that is tender, because they know what they are doing to Christ and the gospels in bowing before this unholy altar.

We need to use this incisive analytical phrase all the more for this reason.

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