President Trump coined the phrase “American carnage” in his 2017 inauguration address. This blog would like to ask a question. Should the phrase American carnage be used to describe American evangelicalism? All the sex scandals, financial scandals, abuse of power and much more begs the question is American evangelicalism the equivalent of Detroit’s Eight Mile or inner city Baltimore?
“Dictators cause the world’s worst problems: all the collapsed states, and all the devastated economies. All the vapid cases of corruption, grand theft, and naked plunder of the treasury are caused by dictators, leaving in their wake trails of wanton destruction, horrendous carnage and human debris.”
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Romans 15:1-2 NIV
In his inauguration speech in 2017 President Trump referred to what he called “American Carnage.” It was a reference to crime and drugs. Gang activity and urban blight and wrecked inner cities were also recalled as well. This blog wants to ask another question in light of the recent issues of Christian nationalism and greater evangelicalism. When one considers the issues with American evangelicalism, should that movement be thought of as American carnage? There are some exceptions with a couple of pastors here and there, and there is also the Salvation Army. But aside from that does American evangelicalism have any redeeming value?
The last few years we saw Christian nationalism on full display inside evangelicalism. White evangelicals planted their flag with Donald Trump. They embraced, adored and worshipped the ground he walked upon. Look at how individuals such as James Dobson, Franklin Graham and many other evangelical leaders defended Donald Trump at every twist and turn. Consider Liberty University here in my home state of Virginia. What good has come from Liberty? Jerry Falwell Sr. was known for his fundamentalism. His son was far worse and then Jerry Prevo is committed to the culture war tactics. Liberty is a stain on Virginia and a blight. Its the theological equivalent of a crack house in Lynchburg. What good has come from Liberty? Its an honest question.
Stop and consider all the conspiracy theories inside evangelicalism. Conspiracy theories that went back to Bill Clinton murdering his political opponents as Falwell Sr. said. Think of the conspiracies about gays, COVID-19, government education, persecution, and so many other topics. Many evangelicals are so wrapped up in conspiracy theories its how they are defined. Then consider the culture wars of evangelicalism. The constant war against abortion and even lying about its roots. Consider individuals like Ken Ham and his Ark Encounter. That is a monument to the intellectual carnage evangelicalism has left on the United States. Think of how many evangelicals reject science in many ways and are always against it. Think of the evangelicals who support the anti-vaccination movement and are opposed to vaccines for diseases like chicken pox or measles. Think of the harm these evangelicals are to their communities and neighborhoods. Again American carnage.
Think of the televangelists, the Jimmy Swaggerts and Jim Bakkers. The fact that you’d be on the stage calling for more money but could not tip a prostitute properly as Swaggert did. Think of the time that Jimmy Swaggert was pulled over for prostitution and when asked told a police officer, “God told me to tell you its none of your business.” Think of the scandals with Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs. Preaching and talking about how gays are a threat to the family while simultaneously hiring a gay escort. Think of all the high profile evangelical sex scandals that happen and still are taking place. Should we conclude that behind every successful preacher is a prostitute or stripper? Again its American carnage.
Think of the Southern Baptists and all the scandals and problems that lie within the denomination. Consider the sex abuse scandal which still is playing out. Think of the issues with racism inside the Convention. The Southern Baptists haven’t moved very far from their founding prior to the Civil War. Think of the giving campaigns, mismanagement of money and the financial scandals of pastors. This blog has had people tell them of issues but they are too afraid of going public and some are in denial. American carnage is present in the Southern Baptists.
Going back to the Christian nationalists who have made their religion about the control and capturing American government. Think of the Franklin Grahams who fall to their knees proclaiming to Donald Trump, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!!” Think of the evangelicals who think Jesus died for control of the United States Supreme Court. Think of how this group of evangelicals has perfected the “us” vs. “them” mindset. Think of the way they live in fear of gays, atheists, mainstream Protestants and others. Again American carnage.
Think of the questionable ministers preaching today. The Mark Driscolls, James MacDonalds, C.J. Mahaney’s and so much more. A scandal breaks out they flee and set up shop in another part of the country and resume their grift and demands for money. All they can do is to defraud people as that is what they are trained to do. And this happens everyday in the United States. Again its American carnage.
Then you have the hard working people caught up in all this. The single mothers, families scraping to get by. Think of the ministries who guilt people to give. The choice is ominous do I buy food for my kid or pay my gas bill so the kids can sleep in a warm place? Or do I give my money to a corrupt ministry instead? Its the ministry that often wins. Again this is American carnage.
American evangelicalism is no different than inner city Baltimore, Eight Mile Road in Detroit, South central of Los Angeles, or parts of the Bronx in New York City. The burned out buildings, the prostitutes hanging out selling their bodies and the used syringes that litter run down houses used by drug users. All of that is what American evangelicalism represents. And all of that is American carnage. Here in Washington, D.C. with a good chunk of the city locked down there are more troops patrolling the streets and protecting the Capitol than in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Amidst the barbwire fences set up you still have evangelicals worshipping their man who suffered at Calvary – Donald Trump. And in all this you have American carnage. American evangelicalism is something you leave. Its a movement you walk away from. It has little to no redeeming value or contribution to society. It is a movement that gives haven to the grifters, frauds, and the scammers. And its all American carnage.