From Atheism to Evangelicals and Their Culture Wars: Why The Wondering Eagle will Occasionally Write About Politics

From time to time when it is appropriate The Wondering Eagle will write and discuss issues in both atheism and evangelical Christianity when it comes to politics. To be fair it is a topic that needs to be looked at in a respectful and responsible manner. This post lays the ground rules for tomorrow’s post which will test the capability to have this occasional discussion. 

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”

Ernest Benn

“Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”    

Ronald Reagan 

“I think evangelicals have found their dream president.”

Jerry Falwell Jr on Donald Trump 

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

Mark 12:17 NLT

Hemant Mehta on atheists running for political office

When I attended the Reason Rally in March of 2012 on the National Mall I listened to the above speech by Hemant Mehta. Hemant Mehta, who writes as The Friendly Atheist, spoke passionately about atheists running for office and the threat that the religious right posed to the United States. He asked if atheists want to have evangelicals push creationism in public schools. He went on and asked if atheists want to have Christians determine their ability to get health care. I listened to the speech and noticed that the atheist movement had a political side to it at times. In the course of time I read and looked into other atheist material and I found that other personalities who engaged in political discussion. Hemant Mehta was not the only one. The late Christopher Hitchens, David Silverman, Bill Maher and so many more people in the atheist community discussed politics from time to time and raised issues that are of concern to atheists.

When I attended the Reason Rally in 2016 I noticed politics came up again. I remember passing comments about evangelicals and Donald Trump and concerns about a number of issues. From creationism and public education, to health care and abortion and much more it was something that was very much a part of the day’s events. After Donald Trump was elected I also had some discussions with a few people from this side of the issue and it was interesting to hear their perspective and concerns. Actually if you would like you can read a couple of perspectives on the election from some and how atheists responded down below. 

  1. “Atheist groups respond to Donald Trump’s presidential nomination.”
  2. “Atheists Call on Trump to Reject Divisive Religious Rhetoric, Policies.”
  3. “Sam Harris Says Evangelicals Elected America’s ‘First Atheist President;’ Other Atheists Reject Trump Association.”
  4. “One nation, under no god: Atheists, more than any religion, have been excluded from the election.” 
  5. “Dealt a body blow, atheists and humanists regroup.”

But I realized that it would be dishonest and not fair to write about atheism from time to time and completely ignore this topic. So this is one reason why I will occasionally venture into the political realm with atheism.  

 

Evangelicals and Politics

In the United States sadly many evangelicals have linked their faith to politics. I would propose that they have created a new faith system which is very different than what the Bible teaches. Years ago and I will not say which church this happened in I was speaking to the wife of one of the pastors I knew. And she told me during an election cycle that you can’t be a Christian and Democrat. I have heard many a statement like that over time and its part of the reason why this topic needs to be occasionally explored. But there is another reason why I have decided to occasionally discuss this topic. There are blogs out there that will state “no political” discussion when the author in the past has written some political posts. However, what happens from time to time is that they are moving the goal posts and being less than forthcoming. This topic I am convinced cannot be ignored, and to ignore it is to do a profound disservice. The sad and tragic reality is that this is how the evangelical landscape is in the United States. I don’t like it, but I have to deal with how things are. One cannot stick their head in the sand. After all a while back I believe I read that Jerry Falwell Jr said that Donald Trump is better than Ronald Reagan if I remember correctly. That alone indicates the problem and why this occasionally needs to be addressed. These are some of the issues and topics that I have in my mind which I would like to work through in the course of time.

  1. Toward the end of the last election Philip Yancey, who I deeply respect, came out in an interview and expressed his shock and disgust that many evangelicals  embraced and supported Donald Trump. This interview I am going to launch in a post tomorrow for discussion. 
  2. Does the election of Donald Trump and evangelical support help explain why people like C.J Mahaney and Mark Driscoll are preaching again despite the scandals and in one case the alleged criminal allegations that dog one of them? 
  3. Does the fact that so many evangelicals embrace Donald Trump reveal why the Southern Baptist Convention has a problem with child sex abuse? After all why care about the sexual assault of a child, if you don’t care about the alleged sexual assault of an adult? 
  4. A look at how Christians in South Africa acted and created a beast – that of apartheid. After all the same Christian political party that outlawed pornography and touted family values also created apartheid I believe. 
  5. The history of the culture wars. After all what triggered fundamentalist entry into politics is not the legalization of abortion. Instead it was the threat that schools like Bob Jones would lose tax exempt status over the threat of being desegregated. So what triggered the culture wars is racism.
  6. Since 81% of white evangelicals support Donald Trump are evangelicals going to be complicit in murder and genocide in the Philippines? After all Trump is reinforcing and supporting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who is encouraging murder,  death and executions on a large scale. 

In the next section I would like to lay out the ground rules and how this is going to proceed. I would like to find common ground that all sides and differing perspectives can discuss topics. Plus I also want to remind people that while I will occasionally talk about these issues, this is not a political blog. 

 

Be Respectful, and How this will be Accomplished

The goal here in occasionally doing this is to create a situation in which we can discuss these issues as they occur. I want people to respect each other. Disagreement is fine, and disagreement is encouraged. Disagreement will be a reality. I would be happy to have the conversation and for people to disagree and to walk away from it having discussed it. I want all parties and sides to be able to engage and share. I don’t want one person to shout down, or dominate a conversation and prevent other people from sharing. There are some blogs that don’t believe that doing this is feasible. I would like to prove them wrong. Its like the posts I have been writing about atheism and doubt. I would like to create a place on the internet for everyone to feel welcome and to share and discuss. Some people don’t think that is feasible, I very much believe it to be possible. 

Here is the deal as well. Its my commitment to leave this a religious blog. There are so many things to discuss. For example very shortly I will have another Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) district to discuss. There are happenings in Acts 29 that I know about, and I keep up to date with The Gospel Coalition and a lot more. Those are the main topics that will be discussed. Political discussion should not bleed into those posts, especially when politics are not relevant. Plus there is happenings in the atheist and humanist movement. I have things I have put aside from my readings to write about. So when we discuss an issue where faith intersects with politics I want the discussion to stay on that post. I do not want it to spill over into other posts. I also want people to know and carry on in civil conversations. I believe this can be done, and I believe we can to this in a respect discussion. The first test to trying this out will happen tomorrow. Philip Yancey who is a well respected, and known Christian author has asked how evangelical Christians can support Donald Trump. We are going to get into what he said and have a discussion on that topic. We will see how it goes. Well that is it for the day please know that I love you guys. Take care! 

7 thoughts on “From Atheism to Evangelicals and Their Culture Wars: Why The Wondering Eagle will Occasionally Write About Politics

  1. And she told me during an election cycle that you can’t be a Christian and Democrat.

    Remembering back to my religious days, and looking at the present state of the Republican Party, I have a hard time seeing how anybody could be a Republican and a Christian. The current focus on personal wealth, aggression, and fear is a long way from the parts of the NT that say to feed the poor, house the homeless, give away all you have, love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, and put away your sword. (Of course, I was never an evangelical!)

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    • Thanks for the comment I appreciate it. I thought Christians were to be known for love first. I long for the secularization of the United States because I think it will be good for the country and Christians. The days of the culture wars will come to an end with the growth of the nones. For me it honestly can’t come soon enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eagle – I suppose I will probably glance at the post tomorrow, but by in large it will probably do me good to not read any of your political posts. Unless maybe you actually throw in the same commentary on JFK, Bill Clinton and perhaps Gary Hart that you do with Donald Trump… I still would disagree with you, but I would at least judge your approach as fair and balanced. I would have rather voted for a non-abusive Evangelical honest politician that would stand up for what’s right for the country, but alas I did not have that option. (I voted for Cruz in the state Republican election, but overall I don’t like him either, think he’s about power & patriarchy.). I did not vote for Trump based on his misogyny. I voted for him based on political positions. I get very incensed when I read tweets that call those of us who voted for him all sorts of names, and attribute all sorts of motives to us that flatly aren’t true. Just as you cannot see how I like some things about Trump and loathe CJ Mahaney, I don’t see how you can support Russell Moore and loathe CJ Mahaney. It starts to make things enter my mind that maybe I’m too hard on some other people say at TGC attributing motives to some of them that may not be true now that the shoe is on the other foot and I am continuously being viciously falsely maligned over the election.

    It may seem like a false dichotomy to you, but it wouldn’t bother me so much to just see you go after Trump. It comes with the territory of running for President. But constantly, unrelentingly, attacking us voters, is beyond the pale to me.

    You know how this election has affected me? Even though I still consider myself evangelical for lack of a better term, I’m disenchanted with evangelicalism for a few reasons, mainly because it’s a safe place for predator wolves and not for victims, and most sheep don’t want to hear about it. And also, because I feel that I was lied to about Headship (Complimentarianism, patriarchy, etc. being Biblical) and they still keep lying about it. (That’s a half truth, lying is a deliberate action. I think in many cases they’re deceived like I was. However, no one wants to read Bilzekian’s Beyond Sex Roles book that gives much more reasonable interpretation of the associated Bible passages.) The headship false doctrine grooms little girls to grow up and be perfect targets for abusers. And they say that anyone not agreeing with headship does not agree with God/the Bible which is false.

    So I am an evangelical that no longer fits in evangelical churches. The folks I can relate more to are folks like yourself. Well, it used to be that way, but since the election, I do not feel like I necessarily fit any better with the bloggerers and twitterers now than I do with the church. It’s all been so very divisive and isolating.

    Anyway, on a more personal note that I know is none of my business, but it saddens me none the less. I hope this election/blog stuff has not destroyed the bond between you and Dee. I wish she would not have been so abrupt with her comment about editing a comment of yours and I thought someone commenting on your blog was mercilessly unkind about it. I do not think I’ve seen you send anything to her/comment to her since then although I did see her pass on her condolences to you here. I really hope this will not come between you/ruin your friendship.

    Anyway, I’ve got to get to bed. I’m so very sorry for your loss and will continue to say a few prayers for comfort for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sister I want to say thank you for your comment. You are always welcome here, and you are always free to speak your mind. I appreciate what you said in explaining your thought process. In many parts of the world one cannot even do that. Its good to agree to disagree and continue to speak and move forward. A differing view on Donald Trump should not end a relationship or a friendship. I appreciate your concern about my friendship with Dee. People are smart, as you are Sister and you have good perception as well. I don’t want to lose any friendships but as I am learning also there are some issues that are out of my hands. I can do the best I can, but sometimes the other person needs to move first. You are always free to speak your mind. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  3. After all a while back I believe I read that Jerry Falwell Jr said that Donald Trump is better than Ronald Reagan if I remember correctly.

    And they shall follow The Trump and marvel, saying “Who is like unto The Trump? Who can stand against him?”
    — filk of a verse from Revelation for the next 7 1/2 years

    After all what triggered fundamentalist entry into politics is not the legalization of abortion. Instead it was the threat that schools like Bob Jones would lose tax exempt status over the threat of being desegregated.

    “Way down Carolina way
    (way down Carolina way)
    There’s a preacher called Bee Jay
    (there’s a preacher called Bee Jay)
    Bee Jay got hisself a school
    (Bee Jay got hisself a school)
    Founded on Caucasian Rule
    (founded on Caucasian Rule)
    Bumper sticker on his Ford:
    ‘Honkies if you love the LOORD’…”
    — Steve Taylor, “We Don’t Need No Color Code”

    Since 81% of white evangelicals support Donald Trump are evangelicals going to be complicit in murder and genocide in the Philippines?

    In short, YES.
    81% is just over the 80/20 threshold where Groupthink locks in and all dissent is Purged.

    And there’s an online study of Millennials and politics that found that Millennials choose “Strong Leader” as the ideal form of government more than any other.

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  4. Eagle, you live and work in D.C., you know some Christians, you know some atheists, where do you stand on transgendered men using women’s bathroom facilities. Surely this is a part of the cultural war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment Drew. In regards to your question I am still learning the issue. I have not formed an opinion yet. I am slowly reading material and both sides. I am a big believer in science so I am reading a couple of articles here and there on transgender. I am wanting to educate and teach myself before I start to form an opinion.

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