Thursday, March 22, 2018

Quote for the Day: Fred Clark on How "Evangelical Christianity Is Turning into 8chan"

At his Slacktivist site today, Fred Clark reports on the decision of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University to make a biographical film about "firefighter prophet" Mark Taylor. As Kyle Mantyla explains at Right Wing Watch, Taylor is a former firefighter who states that as he was watching Fox News, God told him Donald Trump would become president, but only after President Obama had served a second term and built "righteous anger" among God's people that would lead to Trump's election. 

After Trump was elected, Taylor then wrote a book entitled The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story Of The Man Who Saw Tomorrow… And What He Says Is Coming Next. And, well, there's more — lots more — that Taylor claims to "see," including that Trump will serve a second term and release a cure for cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Etc., etc. If you're interested, please read Kyle Mantyla's report — and Fred Clark's valuable commentary at Slacktivist.

As Fred points out,

Mark Taylor, the "firefighter prophet," is not a household name. His "prophesying" and strident political punditry are only familiar to three subsets of people: 
1. Devotees of Charismanews and of the fringier realms of charismatic INC Christianity and of right-wing AM and Internet "Christian" radio; 
2. Readers of Right Wing Watch, which has been tracking Taylor's influence and infamy for years; and 
3. "Mainstream" white evangelical pundits who indignantly reject the suggestion that Taylor and his ilk are in any way representative of white evangelicalism as a whole.

It's Fred's conclusion to which I particularly want to draw your attention, as he muses about what it means that the most mainstreamy of all "mainstream" white evangelical institutions in the U.S., Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, is now choosing to give a high profile to the "firefighter prophet":

Two years ago, I was largely sympathetic to the pleas of those "mainstream" white evangelicals emphatically denying that people like Mark Taylor had anything to do with their kind of Christianity. That's true — but it's only true because this "mainstream" represents a shrinking minority voice within white evangelicalism. They're increasingly outnumbered and sidelined by the louder, larger throng I described above as "Devotees of Charismanews and of the fringier realms of charismatic INC Christianity and of right-wing AM and Internet 'Christian' radio." 
When the "fringe" represents 81 percent of the whole, can it still be called the "fringe"? When the "mainstream" represents less than a fifth of the whole, how "mainstream" can it really be? 
The largest white evangelical university in the country seems to be officially embracing and endorsing Mark Taylor, Savior Trump, and The Storm. Evangelical Christianity is turning into 8chan, only without the profanity. Denying that this is happening doesn’t help to stop it from happening.

These are excellent questions to ask. They need to be asked. What exactly does "mainstream" white evangelicalism want to mainstream today, as it makes itself the voice of 8chan, as it mainstreams the "firefighter prophet" Mark Taylor — as it mainstreams, above all, Donald Trump and all that that man stands for? Because that's the bottom line of all this mainstreaming, isn't it — the mainstreaming of Donald Trump by "mainstream" white evangelicals willing to use any and all tools at their disposal to accomplish this task?

The photo of the cover of Mark Taylor's book is from Amazon.

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