An in-depth examination of the culture and politics of Christian Nationalism and Evangelicalism by two ex-evangelical ministers-turned-religion professors. If you have ever wondered what social and historical forces led white evangelicals to usher Donald Trump into the White House this is the show for you.
As former insiders and critical scholars of religion, Dan Miller and Bradley Onishi have a unique perspective on the Religious Right. Guests have included Chrissy Stroop, R. Marie Griffith, Janelle Wong, Randall Balmer, Katherine Stewart, and many others.
Brad and Dan draw on Sophie Bjork-James' new book, the Divine Institution, to demonstrate how Evangelicals use the nuclear family in order to both attack members of the LGBTQ+ community and draw attention away from systemic issues related to race and other public health threats. In particular, they discuss a) the trans bill and healthcare for trans children in Arkansas b) Biden's executive order on gun control and the issue of gun violence as a public health threat c) the CDC's labeling of racism as a threat to public health.
In all three instances, the individualist, patriarchal, and heteronormative Evangelical view leads to either active or passive complicity in marginalization and/or violence against racial, sexual, and gender minorities.
Brad is joined by Dr. Susannah Crockford, author of "Thank God for the greatest country on earth: white supremacy, vigilantes, and survivalists in the struggle to define the American nation," an article in which she shares her ethnographic field work from the Arizona desert, near the US-Mexico border. Her work illuminates how Christian nationalism works in the minds of those who see defending the border as the most pressing issue in maintaining the greatness of the USA. She also explores how certain people separate the "People" and the "Land" from the government, thus creating a populism of We The People apart from allegiance to the workings of US democracy.
Brad responds to a Twitter thread by Timothy Keller, pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Keller argues for sex in a lifelong covenant marked by deep permanent union. He calls this biblical. Brad points out that the only biblical soulmate story we have of this kind is between God and Israel, which is a problematic example since God is both Israel's Husband AND maker. How do you have consent and symmetry if your spouse is your creator? He then shows that the soulmate myth Keller is advancing comes from Plato, not the Bible. And this non-biblical source of biblical sexual ethics is problematic for Keller because it includes same-sex soulmates and is articulated by a comic poet. In other words, it's meant to be a joke. Shoutout to Cindy Wang Brandt in this episode!
Brad and Dan are happy to announce that SWAJ is joining the Irreverent Media Group--a collective of podcasts that offers content on deconstruction, rediscovery, and everything in between. We outline the details at the top of the episode. Check out irreverent.fm for more details!
We spend the major segment discussing the 82 anti-trans bills up for vote across the country. Dan shares analysis about how and why the trans body is so disruptive to the Christian nationalist vision of the USA. By using the metaphor of the social domain as a body, it's clear that Christian nationalists see trans people as an aberration from nature--and thus they are trying write laws that make it almost impossible to acknowledge trans existence, much less trans rights.
On the second segment, they discuss the Evangelical leaders trying to defend purity culture and how sexual ethics in the Bible is a complex--and often disdainful-thing.
TEDx speaker and author Asha Dahya is the Creator and Editor in Chief of GIRLTALKHQ. She was born in the UK, raised in Australia, and now lives in the USA. Of Indian descent, Asha grew up in Evangelical churches and was imbued with the teachings of purity culture. She discusses how it shaped her understanding of love, embodiment, and relationships, and why it prevented her from seeking the proper help when her marriage turned abusive. She also discusses how being a woman of color in the United States adds another layer of otherness and objectification within the confines of Evangelical spaces.
Brad’s response to Focus on the Family head Jim Daly, who mentioned him in a recent article. In the article Daly tried to deflect the analyses that connect the Atlanta shooter with Evangelicalism and purity culture.
Brad dissects Daly’s argument that:
The Atlanta shooter’s actions were born from insanity, and thus warrant no further investigation
This is unfair to Christianity
Purity culture = healthy
Marriage is for children = biblical
He concludes by extolling Daly to focus on his own family so that the rest of us don’t have to continue living with its violent and abusive effects.
Dan provides a detailed rebuttal to a piece claiming that there the concern about Christian nationalism is an overblown conspiracy by liberals and celebrities. Brad links this to the draconian voter-suppression law signed in Georgia last night. The law was bankrolled by Christian nationalists organizations and is a direct reaction to Black women and POC organizing to flip the state Blue. It even makes it illegal to give people in line to vote a glass of water. Talk about freedom, eh?
They finish the episode by talking about the comically bad arguments against DC statehood and why they reflect the fear of the "wrong kind of person" voting.
Brad talks with Adrian Gibbs, co-host of the Dirty Rotten Church Kids and an ex-evangelical of Filipino descent, about the connections between Ravi Zacharias' abuse of spa workers of Asian descent and the killing of six Asian women of Asian descent at day spas near Atlanta next week. They discuss the themes of misogyny, racial otherness, and purity culture as ways to understand why both cases involve Evangelical men carrying out violence against women of color.
Brad was featured in a NYT article about purity culture and its affect on the Atlanta shooter along with other academics and advocates including Sam Perry, Joshua Grubbs, and Rachael Denhollander. Soon thereafter Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, derided the article and our comments on his podcast. This is Brad's response. He touches on the selective literalism of Evangelical readings of the Bible, queer theologies and lives from the Bible to the present, and how Mohler's approach is incoherent to say the least.
Brad and Dan discuss the various threads connecting the massacre in Atlanta: from the history of anti-Asian racism, to the various dimensions of purity culture, to the cover Christian nationalism provides to acts of violence. They then discuss the Vatican's statement on why the Church can't bless same-sex unions, since they are "sinful" as an instance of the hurtful "loving the sinner, hating the sin" ideal used in Evangelical spaces. They conclude with a segment on Russian interference in our election, masculinity, and the ease in which many are willing to write off democracy.
Rest in Peace, You Will Not Be Forgotten:
Hyun Jung Grant
Paul Andre Michels
Soon C. Park
Delaina Ashley Yaun
Yong A. Yue
In the wake of the mass shooting of 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women, Brad ties together the threads of anti-Asian hate, purity culture, and Christian nationalism.
Killing half a dozen Asian women and attributing it to sex addiction, not racism, is Christian nationalism in a nutshell: "Purity culture made me feel bad about my sexual needs, so I eliminated the temptation. What does race have to do with that?" (Hint: everything) Purity culture is not simply about sexual "purity." Sexual ethics is a way to slip racial, ethnic, and nationalistic purity into equation. As my co-host says, focusing on the purity of the individual body leads to trying to purify the national body. Purity culture is a step away from a pure national body. A body whose borders are not breached by foreign invaders, including "sexual tempters and those of low morals." If purity culture puts undue pressure on women to remain pure, think about what it does to non-white women who are seen as hypersexual seducers not only because of their gender, but also because of their race/ethnicity.
Brad explains how evangelicalism destroys faith, because it destroys any sense of uncertainty and unpredictability. By working in a register of moral, political, and theological certainty, evangelicalism becomes the anti-thesis of faith. Brad calls this disenchanted theology. By contrast, he argues that as a secular person he has become a person of faith in ways he never experienced as an evangelicals. For him, even as a non-religious person, the world is enchanted--full of unknowability and unpredictability--in ways that mean the human condition is always marked by vulnerability and wonder. He goes so far as to say that inter-faith dialogue is possible among secular people and religious.
Voter suppression laws are Christian nationalist policy. They are part of a long lineage of movements that see White Protestants as the only legitimate power brokers in the American landscape. The 253 voter suppression bills put forth by the GOP over the last month are the result of the belief that not everyone should be able to vote and thus not everyone should be able to govern.
After this first segment, we turn to Beth Moore's departure from the SBC, and discuss why it is and is not a big deal. From there we talk about conservative secessionist fantasies and finish with a few comments on the racism scandal surrounding the Royal family.
This is a re-release of an episode from last year. Brad talks to journalist Katherine Stewart, author of the Power Worshipers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Her reporting takes us inside the world of Christian nationalism on the level of lived-experience. She conveys what she has seen at BBQs, political rallies, and even revival meetings at the Trump Hotel in DC. What emerges is a frightening picture of the mechanics of MAGA Nation and its religious communities.
Sam Kestenbaum is an award-winning freelance journalist who regularly contributes to the New York Times. He recently wrote a feature on Godspeak, a Calvary Chapel church in Ventura County, CA. At Godspeak, Sam writes, defiance to COVID mandates takes on a holy aura. It is the reason business is booming--attendance has tripled during the pandemic and the head pastor, Rob McCoy, is a rising star in the Right-Wing influencer world. Sam shares his experiences reporting on Godspeak and how it is a nexus for understanding what's happening in conservative churches all over the country.
Brad compares the current moment to other times in American history when crisis and conflict led to a new normal. What will be our new normal after COVID? Will myth or policy drive us forward? On one hand, the Dems are tepidly putting forward legislation on COVID relief, voting rights, and protections for the LGBTQIA+ community. On the other, the GOP is driving the Big Lie forward, along with culture war items like Dr. Seuss and Potato Head. Which story--and which future--will prevail?
Brad and Dan also discuss how 1/6 was an inside job and an Evangelical adoption agency deciding to work with LGB families.
"Conversion therapy" is a discredited practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Lucas Wilson is a Liberty University grad who took part in the university's ongoing "conversion therapy" program. Now a writer and scholar, he shares his experiences and those of others who endured the efforts to change their sexual orientation.
At CPAC this week, there is a golden calf, um, statue of Trump making the rounds. Brad and Dan explore how this emblematizes Trump's continuing reign over the GOP. A majority of Republicans view him as a true patriot. Almost half say they would defect if he started a new party. Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan say Trump is the figurehead of the GOP and will be for the indefinite future. This means, we believe, that the type of violence seen on 1/6 will happen again.
In the second segment we discuss the GOP's and Religious Right's attacks on trans people. This week Marjorie Taylor Greene posted a sign outsider her window proclaiming there are two genders--male and female. Dan breaks down the pseudo-science behind this claim and why it has insidious effects on our public square. Brad links it to other pseudo-scientific movements in American history--most notably eugenics.
We finish by talking about why the term Judeo-Christian is propaganda for Christian nationalists.
Brad talk to Dr. Ruth Braunstein, Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, about the nostalgic myths that drive MAGA Nation. Their conversation centers on how recognizing the structure of these myths enables us to better see how Christian nationalism pervades right-wing movements that don't have any explicit religious identity markers or symbols. Think: the Proud Boys and the NRA. These groups structure their identities around a certain Christian nationalist interpretation of American history, even when they don't claim an explicitly Christian mantle.
What is the point of government? Is is capitalist profit or the common good? Brad and Dan explain how these questions connect notable events from this week--from Rush Limbaugh's death, to the energy disaster in Texas, Ted Cruz's Cancun misadventure, and one small town mayor's cruel understanding of how to treat people suffering through a weather catastrophe. We finish with a favorite segment: He's No James; Madison Cawthorn.
Brad and Dan's interview with Reilly, Associate Pastor at Presbyterian New England Church in Saratoga Springs NY. Reilly shares how she grew up evangelical, realized she was gay right about the time she received the call to ministry, and her role as a possibility model to young people.
Brad discusses the Ravi Zacharias scandal and why sexual abuse is so rampant in Evangelical spaces: authoritarian leadership structures, patriarchal theology, in group/out group mentality, and a lack of oversight. He then relates it to Evangelical theologies of sex and gender by examining how Kamala Harris has been given the Jezebel label. Not is it sexist, but its origins are racist in nature. The Jezebel type is a slur against Black Women.
Is talking about Christian nationalism akin to demonizing White Christians? Some right-wing theologians and leaders would like you to think it is. But they are wrong. We provide strategies for talking about Christian nationalism without reducing all Christian political involvement as Christian nationalism. We then continue to outline why it is essential to recognize the threat of White Christian nationalism, especially as it relates to rhetoric of war, violence, and political enemies.
Our second major segment investigates how the Supreme Courts' recent decision regarding church openings during COVID sets a dangerous precedent for what counts as religious liberty and religious discrimination. Dan links this to broad themes concerning healthcare and inequalities in American society.
Brad talks about:
Christian nationalism and Bruce Springsteen's Meet in the Middle ad
Tom Brady's friendship with Donald Trump and White Privilege
Tom Brady and Colin Kapernick: The Center and the Margin
The Kansas City Football Team's name as the chef's kiss to all of this
Brad and Dan talk about the false equivalence the GOP tried to draw this week between Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ilhan Omar. This takes place in the context of a discussion about the generational legacy Trump holds over the Republican party, which is now dominated by extremists, conspiracy theorists, and Christian nationalists. Dan breaks down why it's a big deal that Trump didn't attend the National Prayer Breakfast and what it says about how Christian nationalism is not about personal religious practice, but is instead about social identity. Brad finds hope in Biden's speech at the State Department and the beginning stages of bringing our international relations and diplomacy back to a normal level. The show finishes with a segment of Tubby's Flubbies.
On an episode from fall of 2018 Brad and Dan share stories from their experiences with purity culture and provide a primer on gender and sexuality in Evangelicalism. They then interview Reverend Sarah Buteux about her journey from Evangelicalism (where she was told women couldn't be pastors) to ministering at an LGBT+ affirming church.
Monica Rodden is a novelist and ex-evangelical. She wrote this recent piece in the Boston Globe about how she would have been the type of Christian to be part of the Capitol Insurrection. In her interview with Brad, she discusses the binary thinking that plagues Evangelical culture, how certainty can act as a shield from the harsh realities of the world--and why that's a bad thing--and how the Capitol Insurrection brought back all the memories of feeling hate and disrespect towards those who disagreed with her.
Brad and Dan unpack how religions are what people do. The same goes for political parties. This means that White Supremacist Christians and QAnon Christians are Christians. They may not be the kind you like or want to be associated with, but it's unhelpful to write them off as lone wolves who can be dismissed. This also means that insurrection-inciters and conspiracists like Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Kevin McCarthy are the real Republican party. After discussing why it's important to recognize people and groups based on what they do and how they identity, Brad and Dan discuss the Reddit/Game Stop controversy and how it is not equivalent to the populism of MAGA Nation. Just because you are for the people, or popular, does not make you a populist. The episode ends with an important thesis: Joe Biden is the most religious president since Jimmy Carter.
In an episode from fall of 2018, Brad and Dan discuss the issue of abortion in Evangelical culture and how it became a litmus test for who is a "real Christian." Brad then interviews Dr. Myev Rees, an expert on reproductive rights and abortion in Evangelicalism. She discusses the concept of an "angel baby" and what it means for how Evangelicals understands life, conception, and embodiment.
Dr. Peter Manseau is a curator of American religious history at the Smithsonian and the author of ten books. He started #capitolsiegereligion soon after the January 6 insurrection in order to facilitate a crowdsourced collection of religious symbols and imagery from the siege. He talks to Brad about the Christian (and non-Christian) symbolism among the participants, the ways religious media and rhetoric fostered the resentment and anger that fueled the riot, and the examples from American religious history that can help us make sense of what happened and think about what's next. What's clear from this conversation is that religion was everywhere on 1/6 and we have to reckon with that in order to move forward.
Brad and Dan discuss the inauguration, including the theological aspects of Biden's speech and the civil religiosity of Biden's approach.
They then transition to how key members on the Right, including Tucker Carlson and Rand Paul, were "offended" by Biden's call to dismantle White Supremacy and what it means going forward.
Dan explains the troubling aspects of the 1776 Report. Brad explains why QAnon and the Proud Boys are in a moment of transition.
They wrap up by discussing how to have empathy for individuals, but persist with unflinching criticism of institutions and movements--especially when it comes to MAGA Nation.
An episode from Season 1 where Brad and Dan discuss nationalism and populism in the White Evangelical subculture. This is a nice primer for understanding what we now call Christian nationalism and its pervasiveness in American politics.
Brad is joined by Dr. Richard Steigmann-Gall, a historian and expert in Nazi Germany. They compare Hitler's failed coup of 1923 and the Jan. 6 Insurrection at the US Capitol. The discussion focuses on several themes present in 1923 Germany and 2021 USA:
The danger of unity with fascists
Christianity as a marker of cultural identity
Brad and Dan begin by recalling their episode from the eve of Trump's first impeachment, when the quoted a number of Evangelical leaders threatening/predicting civil war if Trump was impeached. Then, it seemed hyperbolic. Now, it is terrifying. They relate this to the prevalent "cosmic war" motif among various White (Christian) nationalists: from the Proud Boys to White Evangelicals and QAnons. Brad talks about the Q Caucus (Madison Cawthorn, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene) and the likelihood that they will at some point pull a gun on the House floor. They finish by answering three questions 1) should the Republicans who voted to impeach lauded? 2) what is the difference between the Capitol siege and the BLM protests? 3) What to say to those who claim big tech censorship is at unfair to conservatives?
In an interview from 2018, Brad and Dan talk to Dr. Glenn Bracey of Villanova University about his experiences in White churches as a Black man. Dr. Bracey unpacks racialized dimensions of the Evangelical culture that shed light on what's happened during the the last four years--and even the last few weeks. His firsthand account and researcher's sensibilities make for a compelling interview on the troubling dynamics of race and White supremacy in contemporary American Evangelicalism.
Dr. Kelly J. Baker, author of Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930, stops by to discuss how the January 6 insurrection was long in the making. Using the 1920s Klan as a historical precedent, she and Brad discuss White supremacy in American culture and politics, the longstanding entanglement of White Protestantism and White nationalism, the Confederate legacy, the class dimensions of both the Klan and the coup, and what we can expect in the near future.
Brad and Dan analyze the January 6 Insurrection at the United States Capitol.
They begin by discussing the unprecedented aspects of the events.
Then, a discussion of Christian nationalism and its manifestation through insurrectionists, the actions and rhetoric of Senator Josh Hawley, and the activism of Ginny Thomas--wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
After discussing the new conspiracy theory that antifa was behind the Insurrection, they turn to details surrounding the Capitol Police.
The episode finishes with reasons for hope: Abrams, Warnock, Ossoff--stalwart members of the Religious Left.
What if I told you the Religious Right formed on the basis of racism and not abortion? What if segregation was the real issue and the unborn were used later to justify it? That's what we discover on this episode. Brad and Dan trace the history of the Religious Right from the 60s to the present. And then Brad interviews Dr. Randall Balmer, professor of religion at Dartmouth College and one of the world's leading scholars on American Evangelicalism.
Think of this as a SWAJ primer. We cover many of the major themes of the show in a relatively brief conversation.
On our second ever episode, we put the White Evangelical support for Trump in historical perspective. Brad lays out the details on how more White Evangelicals supported him than Bush, McCain, or Romney. Dan then provides a sociological analysis as to how this happened.
After many requests, we begin the re-release of Season 1! On this first episode Brad and Dan introduce themselves and tell their stories of being evangelical youth group kids, ministers, and seminarians, and then leaving the movement. They also explain why it was necessary to start Straight White American Jesus. This is our origin story. Take a listen!
On the last Weekly Roundup of the year, Brad and Dan discuss: 1) the myth of the stolen election and how it has gained legitimacy through support from GOP leaders 2) comparing it to the lasting nature of the Birther controversy 3) examining the consequences of the myth, including the radicalization of a generation of White Americans, calls for implementing the Insurrection Act, and the development of a new Lost Cause (what Brad calls the Lost Pause).
We finish the episode by examining Beth Moore's call for Evangelicals to back away from Trumpism and Christian nationalism.
Ken Kemp is not the person you'd expect to be leading small groups and table talks helping White folks understand the histories of racism and strategies to combat it. He's a White male Boomer. Someone born into evangelical culture. A guy who went through seminary and was almost ordained twice. But late in life he had an awakening through visits to India, South Africa, and via friendships and events that woke him up to the racialized dimensions of White Evangelicalism. He shares his story with Brad and talks about how other White people can do the work to become anti-racist.
Brad and Dan briefly touch on three stories: MAGA rebellion in Georgia, Obama on "Defund the Police," and the federal government's abandonment of the American people in the face of COVID.
We then dig deeper into two stories about religion and politics:
-the attacks on Raphael Warnock as part of a long history of White Evangelical castigation of Black faith and movements.
-the Supreme Court's ruling that religious gatherings override COVID health measures
Dr. Sophie Bjork-James is an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University. She is a specialist in race, gender, and religion with a focus on White nationalism and White evangelicalism. One of her recent projects is a close reading of the Left Behind series and the Turner Diaries, the latter many consider the Bible of the White supremacy movement. Reading these two texts together reveals the stunning similarities in White nationalism and Christian nationalism, including their belief that violence is justified to achieve their political goals, their fear of global organizations such as NATO and WHO, and their willingness to trample democracy if it means they can stay in power.
Brad speaks with journalist Anne Nelson whose book Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right outlines in vivid detail the network of organizations, media empires, and churches that sync the Radical Right. She explains how groups such as the NRA, Susan B. Anthony List, and Family Research Council are all interwoven into a nexus that both helped create the presidency of Donald Trump and will continue the takeover of the United States even after he's gone. For example, they created a website promoting ACB's nomination to the Supreme Court way back in 2015. They are the people behind Parler. And they are the largest voter mobilization vehicle in the country. If you want to understand how we got to Trump's soft coup and where we are headed next, this conversation is essential.
Brad and Dan begin by drawing on a famous speech by Frederick Douglass in order to put the nail in the coffin on the idea that it is the Democrats' job to reach across the aisle. They then explain why Republicans think it is okay to attack the faith--including the sermons--of Raphael Warnock, but would not allow one utterance of criticism related to Amy Coney Barrett's religious belief and practice. They finish by looking at stats that tell the real story of American Exceptionalism--the presence of almost equal numbers of highly religious people (85 million people) and non-religious people (100 million). No other developed country has this kind of religious/non-religious make up. It has important consequences for our politics and culture.
We finish this episode with a new segment, "He's No James Madison".
Brad speaks with Sarah Posner, author of Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump. They discuss how Trump is the result of strategies used by GOP operatives in other countries. The approach is simple: label liberal democracy as an assault on family, faith, and nation; sell a strong, charismatic leader as the only hope to save the country from ruin at the hands of godless socialists; then systematically weaken all democratic guardrails in order to ensure the leader has maximal power over the country. Unfortunately, this strategy has worked by uniting the Religious Right and the Alt-Right into an alliance of aggrieved White Americans-or MAGA Nation. With Trump's loss to Biden, MAGA Nation is carrying on a cultural secession with Trump at the helm of the alternative United States of America.
Dan begins by explaining why Biden didn't underperform and why emotionally this should feel like a big win
He and Brad also discuss the White religious voters who fled Trump for Biden and why it is/and is not a big deal
They touch on SCOTUS and the Affordable Care Act, including the surprising comments from Justice Kavanaugh
The bulk of the episode is then spent on discussing the real meaning behind Trump's refusal to concede. Dan explains why a hard coup is not imminent; Brad sets what he calls Trump's "Lost Pause" in the context of the "Lost Cause," the myth and civil religion that emerged from the Confederacy and eventually shaped Southern politics and culture for a century.
In his new book, The Brown Church, Robert Chao Romero speaks from spiritual borderlands. As a Latino pastor and scholar trained in critical race theory, he speaks to those managing what many times feel like mutually exclusive identities. In the process his book has something essential to teach all of us about the history of the Brown Church in North America and how Indigenous and Latina/o peoples have been fighting to decolonize faith, decenter Whiteness, and create more inclusive and equal communities for all. In the course of our conversation, we touch on liberation theology, ways faith communities have been practicing resistance for half a millennium, and the ongoing work to recognize the power and import of the Religious Left.
As we process the unfolding events related to the election, Brad and Dan discuss:
why Tuesday night felt so dismaying, despite knowing it would be a long road
the disappointing turnout for Trumpism and the need to reckon with Whiteness
the myriad of reasons to be not only relieved, but hopeful
Madison Cawthorn = future of the Religious Right
Stacey Abrams, Raphael Warnock, Cori Bush, and the Squad = Vanguards of the Religious Left
Why Christian nationalism is far from defeated
In an episode recorded as part of a public lecture at Skidmore College, Brad speak with Dr. Richard Newton about his new book, Identifying Roots: Alex Haley and the Anthropology of Scriptures. They discuss how Haley's book Roots and the ensuing TV mini-series marked a new chapter in telling the story of Black Americans, how Roots became the "Black family Bible," and what it means in regard to our current cultural moment. Professor Newton explains how the story has become a sacred narrative about American national identity and how its legacy reverberates in contemporary movements for racial justice.
In the week before the election, Brad and Dan begin with another chapter of Falwell's Follies. Dan then explains why the polls are similar, but different from 2016 and how Trump's surrender to COVID has hurt his reelection chances. Brad expands on his explanation of why the Supreme Court should be expanded by providing numbers on how many unfit and inexperienced judges--including ACB--Trump and McConnell have pushed through, explaining how the Senate process has been tainted, and reminding everyone that Trump lost by 3 million votes.
From there, they spend time on a host of Christian nationalism stories--from Patriot churches, to GOP officials riding around with Bibles and guns to protest COVID safety measures, and finally the immoral Trumpism of theologian Wayne Grudem.
The episode finishes with analysis of Paula White's editorial in Christianity Today and how it symbolizes Evangelicals' ongoing commitment to Christian nationalism and the Trump presidency.
Dan speaks with Dr. David Gushee, Professor of Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. The former president of the American Academy of Religion, he is a prolific author who writes often about his journey out of evangelicalism. He and Dan discuss his new book, After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity. Their discussion delves into issues such as community, race, and sexuality--and how White evangelicals are getting those tragically wrong. Gushee proposes new ways of Christian believing, belonging, and behaving, one that emphasizes being a light the world rather than a vector of exclusion and political power.
Opener: Brad and Dan each get 2 minutes uninterrupted on the last debate
Explainer: Hunter Biden non-scandal mularkey
Explainer: Pope announces he is in favor of same-sex couples having civil unions (but not marriages?)
Deep Dive: The American Values Survey from PRRI
-critical issues for Republicans and Democrats (one thinks COVID is a big deal; the other doesn't)
-how White Evangelicals are different from any other religious group in the country
-attitudes toward race, income inequality, and climate change across party and religious lines.
Audience Question: What do we think of court packing?
The episode that started it all! On one of our very first shows, we went to the historical record to quote all the evangelical leaders who did everything possible to decry Bill Clinton after his sex scandal/impeachment. They called for integrity, morality, and virtue in the White House. They feared for a country without a godly leader. Those same leaders are remain Trump's most vocal supporters. Weeks before the election, a great episode to remind us of where we have been and what's at stake.
Dan briefs us on the dueling presidential town halls before he and Brad explain the tenets of Constitutional Originalism, a legal philosophy Amy Coney Barrett claims to hold. They compare it to a separate, but related issue--biblical literalism. In both cases, conservative actors claim to hold the "original" meaning of the text in order to combat social and cultural progress. But, as Dan and Brad explain, a century of philosophy and hermeneutics has shown both to be untenable. From there they discuss the voter suppression efforts the GOP has waged in TX, CA, and GA. They wrap up by analyzing the shocking comments from pastor John MacArturthur, who claimed recently that God made Earth a disposable planet for humans to use and then discard. For Brad, this signals a creeping turn to authoritarianism and scorched-earth (literally in this case) politics.
Brad speaks with Sarah Levin, the Co-Chair of the DNC's Interfaith Committee and the Founder of Secular Strategies, a firm dedicated to mobilizing secular voters. They discuss the values that matter to non-religious voters and how they can be mobilized politically. Perhaps most importantly, they dig into the possibilities for including secular people in interfaith dialogue at the political level. Sarah articulates her commitment to working with, rather than against religious voters who want to cultivate an inclusive, science-based, and democratic ethos in the United States.
Some major announcements! We are now a proud partner of the Capps Center at UCSB! Capps is dedicated to ethics, religion, and public life in a way that matches up seamlessly with our approach on SWAJ. Check out their new series on indigenous religions!
We begin this episode by discussing the VP debate, particularly Mike Pence as a familiar type: The White Evangelical pastor.
We then discuss a cluster of issues surrounding science and COVID--Trump's use of medicines that made from aborted fetuses (a big deal to the Religious Right, supposedly), the New England Journal of Medicine's endorsement of Biden, and the general ignoring of scientific counsel on the part of the Trump administration.
We also analyze Senator Mike Lee's comments that democracy is not necessarily the best form of government--statements in line with Dominionist theology and part of what Brad calls "the dangerous allure of totalitarianism." The danger of these comments was brought into stark relief when news of a kidnapping plot against Governor Gretchen Whitmer emerged. While the major media outlets won't call it what it is, we will: this was an act of homegrown White terrorism and it is related to Trump's call to "liberate Michigan!"
Brad speaks to Professor Anthea Butler, a captain in the Biden campaign's "Catholics for Biden" initiative, and chair of the Religious Studies department at the University of Pennsylvania. They discuss the details of Trump's COVID diagnosis and how his recklessness is fueled by four things:
Prosperity Gospel positive thinking,
These themes ground a conversation that ranges from Trump's lack of empathy for Americans, especially BIPOC, who have contracted the virus, his supporters' call for empathy after telling the nation that it was okay if "grandma dies" to save the economy, the conservative Evangelicals and Catholics who held a superspreader prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial, and the belief that whiteness is a shield against the iniquities that plague other people.
Brad explores the alliance between the alt-right and the Religious Right in and through Trump's presidency. In tracing this story, he uncovers how and why the Religious Right now looks to Putin's Russia, Orban's Hungary, and other autocratic regimes as the City Upon a Hill that the USA used to be. This episode features an interview with the renowned journalist Sarah Posner, author of Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump.
On an abbreviated Weekly Roundup Brad discusses the first presidential debate, the media's inability to call out Trump's threats of violence and election delegitimization, the ways White Catholics and young Evangelicals might be souring on the president, the new documentary that shows how the White House worked with churches to radicalize marginalized people, and how "The Office" warned us about the 2020 hellscape.
Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. In her book, Behold, America (Bloomsbury 2018) she explores the entangled history of America First and the American Dream.
'The American dream is dead,' Donald Trump said when announcing his candidacy for president in 2015. How would he revive it? By putting 'America First'.
The 'American Dream' and 'America First' are two of the most loaded phrases in America today, and also two of the most misunderstood. The American Dream began as a pledge for equality rather than as a dream of supremacy and 'making it big'. America First has not just served as an isolationist term, but as an early slogan of the Ku Klux Klan with surprising links to the present.
Both phrases were born nearly a century ago and instantly tangled over capitalism, democracy and race, coming to embody opposing views in the battle to define the soul of the nation. Behold, America recounts the unknown history of these two expressions using the voices that helped shape that debate, from Capitol Hill to the newsroom of the New York Times, students to senators, dreamers to dissenters.
Brad and Dan discuss four main stories on this week's roundup:
1. The passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has led to Amy Coney Barrett as the frontrunner to replace her. Brad outlines the history and contours of the charismatic Catholic community to which she swore an oath and asks how it affects her nomination.
2. Through a discussion of Locke and American history, Dan helps us understand why protecting public property is always such a priority in cases involving the destruction of human life. Why was her apartment complex more valuable than Breonna Taylor's life?
3. The peaceful transfer of power, the GOP's ongoing efforts to suppress voting, and the threat of election insecurity.
4. Following on a new piece by Chrissy Stroop, we ask: Have "respectable" evangelicals lost control of the extremist movement they built?
Brad speaks with historian Ricard Steigmann-Gall, author of the Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity 1919-1945. They discuss how the Nazi party used a Christian social identity as a way to signal who the true and good citizens were, how the melding of religious and national identities was the first step for racism and anti-semitism, and how the USA was an example for Nazi eugenicists. Throughout the conversation both of them make comparisons to the pervasiveness of Christian nationalism in the contemporary United States and how it is feeding fascist instincts, violence, and division.
Brad and Dan discuss a coterie of stories at the intersection of race, nation, and religion. First, they dissect the president's announcement of a new commission on "patriotic education" as a thoroughly Christian nationalist move. They then turn to William Barr's comments about how COVID shutdowns are the worst annulation of civil liberties in American history except for slavery. They link both these things to the "1619 Project," clarifying how this is a struggle over who gets to tell the story of the United States and what it means for our implications in it. This leads to a discussion of the many White folks who are recognizing that they can no longer identify with the GOP or the term evangelical because those groups are unwilling to face the realities--and responsibilities--of the American narrative. Finally, they reveal the hypocrisy of pro-life groups silent on the mass hysterectomies reportedly taking place at ICE detention centers.
Brad speaks with Dr. Sara Moslener, author of Virgin Nation: Sexual Purity and American Adolescence from Oxford University Press. Dr. Moslener outlines the history of purity culture from the 19th century to the present, highlighting the eugenicist and racist ideologies that fueled it. One of the often overlooked tropes is how sexual purity was enforced through appeals to patriotism--as if keeping the borders of the body secure would help keep the nation's borders impenetrable. They also discuss contemporary purity movements, such as Silver Ring Thing, that convince young people that living their best life is a matter of sexual chastity and giving away one's virginity will ruin their life irrevocably.
Brad and Dan begin by discussing how 9/11 is an event marked by acts of civil religion--ceremonies, rituals, and symbols that enable the nation to remember and mourn. Brad asks why we haven't had such things implemented to help grieve the loss of the 200,000 Americans who have died of COVID. Dan breaks down the explosive recordings/material in the new book from Bob Woodward--including Trump's recognition of its deadly airborne transmission in February. They finish with a detailed discussion of how Trump has slipped with White Evangelicals and Catholics, how Biden has gained ground with those groups, and if there will be some real payoff there for the Democrats. Biden has crafted his message to these groups through his national director for faith outreach--who is an ex-evangelical. It's a complicated debate that includes issues like abortion, Christian nationalism, and religious liberty.
During the first half of this episode Brad and Dan trace the racist and nationalistic origins of white evangelical politics. On the second half, Brad talks with Dartmouth scholar Randall Balmer, who is perhaps the world's leading scholar of the history of the Religious Right in American politics. He explains that racism in the form of opposition to the integration of schools and segregated churches was the catalyst for the rise of the Religious Right.
Brad interviews Dr. Leslie Dorrough Smith about her new book, Compromising Positions: Scandals, Politics, and American Christianity. She breaks down an important concept: Sex scandals are not about sex. They are about the stories the nation tells about itself, gender dynamics, masculinity, and above all power. This means certain white, straight, heterosexual politicians survive such scandals unscathed, while others have their political careers ended by even minor mishaps. It also means that in a strange way certain facets of American Christianity actually encourage sexual misbehavior as part and parcel of the political and religious status quo.
Dan confesses that 1st grade on Zoom is more intimidating than translating French philosophy or reading Hebrew. He and Brad then discuss the bombshell report on Trump calling soldiers losers, his defense of white nationalist vigilantism, and his encouraging people to vote twice. They then discuss the latest polls and Biden's chances in the electoral college. They then discuss how our political landscape has been reduced to an infuriating binary--as evidenced by Franklin Graham's approach to this election. They finish by covering terrifying stories from QAnon, Trump pushing through a vaccine unsafely, and the sidelining of Dr. Fauci.
On the series finale, Brad reflects on his departure from Orange County and evangelicalism. This provides a jumping off point for reflecting on what we've learned through the series, and, perhaps most importantly, how Orange County's politics and culture provides a window into the contemporary moment.
Brad and Dan discuss the vagaries of the new semester and the apocalyptic challenges posed by Zoom and Outlook. They then dissect the events in Kenosha, WI during the last week--from the shooting of Jacob Blake, the vigilantism of Kyle Rittenhouse, and the various political and social responses. From there they transition to the RNC’s themes of fear, alienation, and Christian nationalism--including a “fascism draped in the flag” final night at the White House. They conclude with an examination of evangelical and conservative approaches to masculinity and sexuality through Falwell’s follies, Eric Metaxas, and other sex scandals
On this re-released episode, which takes on new significance in light of the Falwell scandal, Brad and Dan discuss how sexuality and gender are viewed in evangelical purity culture, including the notion that men are sexual aggressors and women are passive gatekeepers. They interview Rev. Sarah Buteux about her experiences as an ex-evangelical, a feminist, and a progressive leader.
Brad and Dan discuss the latest of Falwell's Follies. They then analyze the presence of religion and faith at the Democratic convention, the fallout from the president's affirmation of QAnon, the GOP's problematic future, the arrest of Bannon and the Senate Intelligence Commitee's confirmation of Russian interference and collusion, and the criticism of Kamala Harris as not Black enough from pundits on the Right.
Some just want to watch the world burn. But for others, the end of the world is an opportunity to rebuild it in their image. On this penultimate episode, Brad explores how global kleptocrats, Donald Trump, and Christian Reconstructionists all view the end of the world as a chance for power and control. It is the simplest and scariest explanation of why the Religious Right continues to support the 45th president--they both want to destroy the world. This episode contains an interview with Prof. Julie Ingersoll, author of Building God's Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction.
Dan laments the end of our favorite segment, Falwell's Follies. Then he and Brad discuss the interfaith and mixed-race background of Kamal Harris, Birtherism 2.0, the attempt to steal the election at the post office, Kanye West working for the Trump campaign, the illegal appointment of the DHS head, Latinx voters turning Republican, and the unraveling of American democracy.
Brad talks to Dr. Diana Butler Bass, distinguished scholar of American Christianity, about Jerry Falwell Jr's. demise. Last week, racy pictures posted by Falwell on social media led to him being put on indefinite leave from the university. Dr. Bass provides insight into why this particular scandal led to his downfall, the gendered dynamics of the situation, and the well marked path for Falwell's redemption.
Brad speaks with Marc-André Argentino, a PhD candidate and public scholar at Concordia University in Quebec, and an Associate Fellow with the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) at King's College London. They discuss the origins of QAnon, its deep connections with evangelical Christianity, the new Q-Church, and the ways QAnon's conspiracies are worsening the public health crisis by spreading disinformation.
Brad tells a story about a mishap during a colonoscopy. He and Dan then cover the myriad of stories from a crazy news week:
-Eric Metaxas thinks Jesus is White
-Tom Cotton: slavery was a necessary evil
-Herman Cain dies from COVID after Trump rally
-Remembering John Lewis
-Trump's favorite doctor and her theology of demon insemination -Jared Kushner's failed COVID response
-Trump's abysmal poll numbers on COVID, race, and the suburbs
-John Ortberg resigns
If you want to take the country back for God, if you want to have dominion over every level of society, if you want to ensure a white Christian patriarchy rules over the land--you have to start with the children. Christian school movements are part of the fabric of the Religious Right. On this episode, Brad examines why the Christian schooling movement--including homeschooling--took off in the 60s, how it has shed government oversight, and what effects its having on our public education system and our public square. This episode features interviews with Dr. Chrissy Stroop and Scott Okamoto.
Dan talks about his house, or at least television, being struck by lightning. He and Brad then discuss Trump's messaging failures, Biden's candidacy as an appetizing saltine cracker, the scary situation in Portland, a baseball player who can't kneel for Black lives "because he's a Christian," the dangerous push to open schools no matter what, and AOC's absolute fire on the House floor.
You might be surprised to learn that the history of sex ed in the USA is a religious history. Christians were not always the enemies of science-based sex education programs. But during the 1960s, the Religious Right began a war against comprehensive sex education. Since then, it has been able to implement abstinence-only sex ed programs through tens of millions of dollars in federal funding. Where did this war start? Who are its major players? And why are evangelicals so afraid of condoms? This episode include an interview with Dr. Kristy Slominski, Assistant Professor of Religion, Health, and Science at the University of Arizona, and the author of the forthcoming book Teaching Moral Sex: A History of Religion and Sex Education in the United States.
Brad tells a story of scowling at a Supreme Court justice at the super market. Dan reveals he worked in Yellowstone National Park with Bill Clinton. They then discuss Trump's abysmal poll numbers and their causes: the anti-science approach to schools re-opening and the CDC; the anti-teacher approach to education; the deployment of secret police in Portland; the white nationalism of Tucker Carlson. All of this is discussed in the context of Christian nationalism.
Dan tell us why he hates the beach. Brad finishes his weeping on election night story. Then, they discuss Trump's Christian nationalist Confederate strategy (5:03), the Ministerial Exception expanded by SCOTUS (20:46), Religious Institutions receiving COVID relief money (29:24), Betsy Devos' attempt to weaken public schools, Dominionism, and the Religious Right's claim that abortion = slavery.
Since the mid-twentieth century, evangelicals and others on the Religious Right have looked to Hollywood, rather than the Bible, to construct their visions of "cowboy masculinity." It started with John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, then moved to Mel Gibson and others. On the political side, tough guys like Barry Goldwater and Donald Trump were favored over more reflective leaders like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. Conservative women, such as Phyllis Schlafly and Maribel Morgan, provided the tools to construct a corresponding submissive femininity. The militant masculinity of the Religious Right is a key component to their love for strongmen leaders, willingness to engage authoritarianism over democracy, and desire to return the country to a white Christian patriarchy. This episode features an interview with Dr. Kristin Kobes du Mez, the author of the new book: Jesus and John Wayne: How Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation."
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Dan and Brad hosted a live meeting with SWAJ listeners. We had a great discussion of important questions. They are listed below:
Questions for SWAJ Q+A, June 30, 2020:
Randall Balmer’s three point definition of evangelical does not directly mention a belief in Hell or an afterlife. The evacuation plan seems to be such a focus in many churches and I believe this is foundational to many conversions, ie, the fear of spending eternity in a firey Hell or the promise of spending eternity in a heavenly mansion. Has there been any research as to how many people are converted out of fear, especially children?
Would you consider the Great Commission a form of colonialism for Christian Nationalists?
How did you choose your show music?
2. What does faith mean to you?
3. What kinds of research from other PhDs in your field do you hope to see coming out of the movement for Black lives?
4. The conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist convention - where did all those pastors, church members, and churches go that were either excommunicated or willingly left the SBC? Did they have any impact on evangelicalism, or did they just get out? Did they become a part of the religious left?
5. Has understanding about the origins of the religious right helped you to communicate with people still heavily involved in it?
6. Is it possible to be both libertarian and ethically concerned with social justice? Or do libertarian ideals always = alt right?
7. Does populism result in authoritarianism? I ask because of this op-Ed by Francisco Toro https://tinyurl.com/y8ql725r
8. Obviously American leadership contributes to our anti-science COVID tsunami. But rank and file citizens are the actual problem. Does Europe not have these people? Is the Brexit crowd an anti-mask crowd? Europe has an anti-vax movement. Why not this other garbage?
9. A question for your Q&A: how much did the interest in your podcast from outside the US surprise you?
10. I'm curious about your knowledge of the Falkirk Center at Liberty U?
11. What made the charismatic and neo-pentecostal churches embrace right wing politics??
12. In the past you mentioned 'non church going, self identified Evangelicals'? Can you expand on that, it doesn't make sense to me.
Brad and Dan discuss the expanded recognition of Juneteenth and its significance for American history, the surprising new from SCOTUS on discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace and DACA, Louie Giglio's "White blessings," and the growing perception that white people are discriminated against as much as Black people and other minorities. Bonus: explainer on the distinction between taking down Confederate monuments and other historical memorials.
In the wake of the 1964 Goldwater campaign, three young men decided to start the Council for National Policy in order to take back the country for God--and themselves. They joined forces with an army of clergy, big donors, and media moguls in order to take back America. This "shadow network," as the journalist Anne Nelson calls it is the secretive, but pervasive force that has overtaken the GOP and infiltrated every level and every corner of this country's politics.
Interview: Anne Nelson, author of Shadow Network, and faculty at Columbia University.
Brad and Dan discuss Trump's decision to hold a rally in Tulsa on June 19. They dig into the historical significance of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre and Juneteenth. They also discuss the difference between history and collective memory in the Confederate flag/statue debate. Finally, they touch on Trump's conspiracy theories about protesters, the first QAnon congressperson, and the ways protests have worked so far.
In the early 1960s, Orange County became the hub for both white evangelical Christianity and libertarian politics. It was the epicenter of the John Birch Society and the Goldwater campaign. This history is crucial for understanding the rise of the Religious Right throughout the 80s and beyond. It was from this soil that Reagan and his evangelical coalition took over the GOP. The racism, conspiracies, and extremism of 1960s libertarian evangelicals in Southern California has remained part of the GOP and the Religious Right from Goldwater to Reagan to the Tea Party and the presidency of Donald Trump.
This episode begins with the conveyance of wisdom from two African American women who are scholars of religion. First, Dr. Anthea Butler on how and why protest works. Then, Dr.Shannen Dee Williams on the history of racism in the Catholic church and the need to listen to black activists. Brad and Dan then discuss the awry symbolism of Trump's photo op, the hypocrisy of invoking Romans 13, comparisons to 1968, Trump's polling numbers. They finish by discussing the 3rd Amendment, We the People Populism, and the difference between police and military.
On this emergency episode, Brad asks religion scholars to weigh in on Trump’s violent Bible photo op.
He speaks with first with Dr. Richard Newton, Assistant Professor of Religon at the University of Alabama. They discuss how Christianity often offers a validation to racism and what he means by the term negrophobia.
Christian nationalism is a prominent theme on Straight White American Jesus. Brad discusses how it played into Trump’s photo op with Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead, authors of "Taking America Back for God," a new and important text on Christian nationalism in contemporary USA.
Using Christian nationalism as a lens helps clarify why Trump’s base is also populated by a good number of white Catholics. Brad discusses this with Matthew J. Cressler, Asst. Professor of Religion at the College of Charleston. They discuss his work on white Catholicism as a vehicle for segregation in the USA, and the work of black catholics who are working to dismantle the structures of racism in the church.
Brad turns next to Dr. Matt Recla, Associate Director of the University Foundations program at Boise State, to get a view of Trump’s weaponization of the Bible from the eyes of a scholar of the Roman empire. Dr. Recla explains the ways Christians and politicians have done the same throughout the last 1700 years.
Finally Brad asks his Skidmore college, Dr. Lucia Hulsether, author of the forthcoming book Capitalist Humanitarianism, to help him understand the term racialized capitalism.
He finishes the episode with insight from his former colleague Dr. Charles McKinney Jr, professor of Africana studies at Rhodes College, who relays a lesson in how white people often view racist acts and how to begin doing anti-racist work.
On this installment of the Orange Wave: A History of the Religious Right Since 1960, Brad traces two intertwined histories. First, the Sun Belt Migration, which led to a massive westward population shift in the 1950s and 1960s. The Sunbelt Migration turned Orange County into the nation's hub of defense production. This led in turn into an evangelical wave in Southern California. He interviews Professor Gerardo Marti of Davidson College about this story. Second, Brad examines the decline of the Mainline Protestant denominations during the same time period. The breaking of their cultural and political authority opened a space for the Religious Right to rise. Brad discusses this with Dr. John Compton of Chapman University.
The Religious Right has not always existed. White evangelicals have not always been the guardians of far-right immigration policies and patriarchal models of the family. In the 19th century, they were often progressive activists fighting for labor rights, abolition, and women's suffrage. How did they transform into the scions of Christian nationalism? Brad digs in to the history with Professor Randall Balmer of Dartmouth College on the initial episode of The Orange Wave: A History of the Religious Right Since 1960.
Brad and Dan discuss recent data that shows White Evangelicals are the only group who believes Trump's response to the pandemic has been appropriate. They connect this to recent studies that show how Trump supporters get their news/information directly from the president through the Trump App. This leads to a discussion of the proliferation of conspiracy theories and the problem of living in a post-truth world.
Brad tells a story of an encounter with a French philosopher and . . . marshmallows. Then Dan and Brad discuss the DOJ decision to drop the case against Michael Flynn (4:00), William Barr's dominionist win-at-all-costs politics (12:40), the "Call me a grandma killer" tweet and what is says about the "culture of life" movement (20:00), Trump's unwillingness to wear a mask, and more.
Brad speaks with Marc-André Argentino, a PhD candidate and public scholar at Concordia University in Quebec, and an Associate Fellow with the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) at King's College London. They discuss the origins of QAnon, its deep connections with evangelical Christianity, the new Q-Church, and the ways QAnon's conspiracies are worsening the public health crisis by spreading disinformation.
Brad and Dan discuss the COVID culture wars: the armed "protest" at the Michigan capitol, the masculinity of face masks, in-person church meetings, the stunning decline in Trump's approval ratings, the Bill Gates conspiracy, and Justin Amash's third-party presidential bid.
Brad discusses the correspondence between libertarian politics and evangelicalism. He points out that the stay at home orders undercut the central myth of both: working hard leads to God's favor and economic prosperity. The collective action of staying at home is, in this sense, a blow to core tenets of conservative and evangelical cultures.
Brad tells the story of buying an heiress a crepe in France. Then he and Dan discuss the president's remarks on using disinfectant to help with COVID, the conspiracy theories about vaccines and the Mark of the Beast, a reporter who was kidnapped at a Re-Open protest rally, and more.
Brad discusses the "re-open" protests happening at state capitols through the historical episode of the Puritans and their protests to inoculation efforts during a smallpox outbreak in 1721. The historical parallels shed light on why many are motivated to protest in God's name and reveal how fear and anxiety are at the root of backlash against the medical community, secular authorities, and science.
Brad begins with another story of hijinks and nostalgia from Oxford. Then Brad and and Dan discuss a long list of religion, politics, and COVID-19 stories, including Gov. DeSantis classifying wrestling as essential business, Franklin Graham's homophobia, Confederate Flag and gun-laden protests at the Michigan capitol, churches receiving stimulus $ from the SBA, and pastors continuing to encourage their people to meet in person.
Brad and Dan begin by discussing a the demand for in-person church meetings in Kansas, Liberty University's attack on the press, and Bill O'Reilly's comment that most of those who have died from COVID-19 were "on their last legs anyway." They then examine Franklin Graham's and Pope Francis' theologies on why this pandemic is plaguing the globe (14:00).
During the COVID-19 pandemic many are discussing the liberty to hold religious gatherings despite the public health risks. In an interview from 2019, Dan speaks with Andrew Seidel, constitutional lawyer at the freedom from religion foundation, about how freedom from religion guarantees freedom of religion.
Brad and Dan begin by adding some humor to the mix--they tell stories of how they didn't fit in at Oxford and the hijinks that ensued (00:30). They then discuss the pastors who continue to hold services and how a mix of toxic masculinity, resistance to science, and disdain for the government are factors in this phenomenon They also explain why theologically evangelicals should be the group most willing and able to halt large in-person gatherings (12:40).They finish by discussing how conservative media has covered the pandemic (27:50), Trump blaming states for lack of healthcare equipment (28:40), and the stunning admission of ignorance on the part of GA governor Brian Kemp (39:50).
Brad speaks to Dr. Nathan Alexander about his new book on the entangled histories of Christianity, atheism, and racism in the 19th and 20th centuries. They try to answer some compelling questions: Are non-religious people more or less susceptible than Christians to supporting racism and racist policies? What can history tell us about this subject? They explore Darwin, early irreligious reformers, and 20th/21st century problems.
Religion was in full view this week as it relates to COVID-19. Brad and Dan discuss evangelical leaders and politicians resisting shelter in place directives, the Trump Bible study leader blaming LGBT+ people for the pandemic, Hobby Lobby and visions from God, Liberty University going back to school, Pompeo railroading G7 talks by demanding it be called the Wuhan Virus, the faux-Trump Bump, strongman masculinity and disease, and reasons for hope (yes, there are reasons to hope).
Asha Dahya was a happy evangelical when she moved to LA from Australia. But the politics of the Religious Right led her out of the faith. Indian by ethnicity, British-born, Australian raised, and living in the USA since 2008, in a few short years she has become a reproductive rights activist, editor in chief of a feminist website, and author of a new book on women who are changing the world in extraordinary ways.
Brad and Dan discuss why in this sort of crisis everyone's a socialist (2:55), the fallout from the Burr/Loeffler revelations (7:35), and then spend the bulk of the episode discussing why Bernie Sanders would be a revolutionary candidate in religious terms--the first None President in our country's history. They trace histories of anti-Jewish and anti-secular bias in the USA and discuss the dimensions of a non-theist as president(14:15), and reasons for hope--neighbors, neighborhoods, and the rediscovery of in-person interactions! (55:00)
Brad discusses the moral failing of Senator Richard Burr and calls on him to resign, fact checks Sen. Cornyn on China, viruses, and more, and challenges us not to allow our fear to transform into racism and xenophobia.
Aaron Simmons has been asked to leave numerous churches over the last decade. Not over theology or the Bible. But because he votes the wrong way and wants to have open discussions about abortion, race, justice, and other issues. A fourth-generation Pentecostal, he didn't leave evangelicalism. It left him. But he persists--attending an evangelical church whilst voting for Bernie and trying to create space for a more responsible and ethical American evangelicalism.
On today's daily dispatch, Brad discusses why Trump labeling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" is part of a long lineage of anti-Asian xenophobia and part of the Christian nationalism held by his supporters (4:00). He discusses a new piece on Christian nationalism and anti-immigrant ideology by Samuel Perry. Brad also touches on how Trump tried to buy the rights to a vaccine from a German company (11:45), the fight over the Democratic primary election in Ohio, where the governor canceled voting today (15:40), and the fact that we don't have a pandemic response committee, but we do have SPACE FORCE! (18:17)
Brad and Dan discuss the conspiracy theories Evangelicals and the President are pushing about Corona Virus (0:30), Title IX exemptions for universities that discriminate against LGBT+ people (17:50), the surprising surge of Biden and his popularity with African American religious voters (27:05), who is the most "religious" candidate left (44:05), and a one-minute explainer on why COVID-19 is a serious threat to public health (as opposed to what Fox News is telling your mom or nana) (50:50).
Brad speaks with Dennison University political scientist Paul Djupe. They discuss Djupe's findings that those Christians who live in homogenous Christian communities are most likely to believe that Democrats, atheists, and others are trying to take their rights away. They also discuss data that shows a large majority of Evangelicals are willing to strip rights from nonbelievers.
On the Weekly Roundup, Brad and Dan discuss the Corona virus conspiracies coming from MAGA land (2:45), AOC's sermon in Congress (9:30), the Supreme Court's hearing of Fulton vs. Philadelphia (17:00), which could give religious people the right to discriminate in a myriad of ways, "Progressive" Evangelicalism's quietism (33:15), and --BONUS: 1-minute explainer of Democratic Socialism vs. Communism vs. Capitalism (38:45)
Reasons for Hope: Taco Trucks on Every Corner!
We stand in solidarity with the UCSB and UCSC grad students/TAs on strike!
Are Evangelicals still in love with Trump? Do white "liberal" Protestants vote progressively? Is it fair to say that the Republican party is basically the party of white folks? Who are the religious nones and what role will they play in 2020 and beyond? Brad talks with Dr. Ryan Burge, Assistant Professor of Political Science, at Eastern Illinois University, about these questions and more.
Brad is joined by guest co-host Blake Chastain, who is host of the Exvangelical Podcast and the Post Evangelical Post newsletter.
They discuss a surprising LGBTQ-affirming church in Texas (5:30), the way some white Mainline and Catholic voters prioritize their whiteness over anything else (10:20), and the incident at Baylor University's chapel this week, which shows the toxic effects of envisioning God as a white male (20:15)
Brad talks with Dr. Matthew Avery Sutton, author of the new book "Double-Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War". They discuss how missionaries became undercover agents during WWII, how religious professionals and rhetoric have shaped US diplomacy, and how the legacy of these missionary-spies still informs our public square.
Dominionists are shaping your life: from your kid's sex-ed program, to local gun laws, and national elections. They see themselves as called to rule the world as proxies for God. Dominionists strategize as to how to infiltrate and control every aspect of human life--government, economics, culture, media, education, and so on. They are not fringe. They are operating in local, state, and national governments.
Brad and Dan discuss how we should interpret Mitt Romney's vote to convict Trump as an expression of how the Latter Day Saints view the president, and why they are less likely to be Christian nationalists. They also dig into the National Prayer Breakfast, the Southern Baptist Convention's views on the LGBT community, and Franklin Graham's woes in the UK.
Brad dissects the evangelical scrutiny of the halftime show, demonstrating how Franklin Graham's (et al) criticism comes from the misogyny of purity culture, a history of othering people of color through a sexual lens, and willful ignorance on forms of exploitation.
Brad's audio essay on his great grandmother, Hisao, a picture-bride who couldn't speak English, but who became an American, a Californian, and an Angelino through the Lakers; the woman who began four generations of his family's love of basketball. In the wake of Kobe Bryant's death, it's a reflection on the joy and sorrow of migration, love, and 'Ohana.
Brad and Dan talk about Jerry Falwell's call for secession, harmful transgender treatment bills, and Paula White, Trump's spiritual advisor, the woman who called for the miscarriage of satanic pregnancies, and a prosperity preacher.
Brad speaks with author and pastor Ruth Everhart about her new book, "The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church's Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct." They discuss the connections between rape culture and purity culture, how patriarchal theology contributes to toxic church environments, and the March for Life.
Link to Ruth Everhart The #MeToo Reckoning: https://www.ivpress.com/the-metoo-reckoning
On the Weekly Roundup Brad and Dan discuss Espinoza vs. Montana, a supreme court case that will determine if states must fund private schools. They discuss how currently millions of dollars in tax money is being sent to anti-LGBT institutions. They also discuss the whitewashed radicalism of MLK JR., and evangelical quietism on abortion.
Brad talks with Deirdre Sugiuchi about her story of leaving a fundamentalist boot camp in the Dominican Republic. Deirdre, a writer whose work has been featured at Electric Literature, Guernica, and who contributed an essay to EMPTY THE PEWS, speaks of the emotional and sexual abuse at Escuela Caribe and the dangers she sees in the current administration's approach to religious education.
*WARNING: This episode does contain descriptions of sexual abuse.
On the weekly roundup, Dan and Brad focus on a Politico story about the Trump campaign reaching out to Catholic voters. They explain how a sizable number of Catholics fall into the Christian Nationalist category, what it means for 2020, and how we should expand our vision of Trump's religious supporters beyond white evangelicals. They also talk about controversy between the two popes, a cringeworthy new center at Liberty University inspired by Braveheart, and the bar at Trump Hotel in DC.
Brad talks with Dr. Samuel Perry about Trump's secret weapon: Christian Nationalism. But, Christian Nationalism isn't just theocracy. As they discuss, it's a code word--a dog-whistle--used to signal xenophobia, racism, patriarchy, and so on. The interview focuses on Perry's forthcoming book (co-edited with Andrew Whitehead) called "Taking America Back for God".
Brad and Dan discuss how Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo brought their end-times theology to bear on American foreign policy through the assassination of Quassem Soleimani. They explain how evangelical approaches to the end of the world are informing our nation's decision-making at the highest levels. Plus: Don Jr. Crusades gun, the Evangelicals for Trump Rally, and Jim Bakker says you must be saved in order to love Trump. Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5R6Vhmfhs8&t=209s
Brad speaks with PRRI CEO and author of "The End of White Christian America" Robert P. Jones. They discuss the ongoing developments with Iran, the United Methodist Church's split over LGBT issues, and how evangelicals are a shrinking demographic that somehow continues to hold enormous power in American politics.
On the last episode of our series on the Religious Left, Dan speaks with Professor Ruth Braunstein about how the political organization of progressive faith groups, "good troublemakers," and the ways moral humility is good for democracy.
We've lived through Paris Hilton vs. Kim K, TSwift's bad blood with Katy Perry, and Drake's beef with everyone. But now we are here to take you through the hottest beef of 2019: Christianity Today vs. Trump Evangelicals! We talk ramifications, the Letter, the response to the response, and much more.
On a double episode, Dan and Brad first discuss the re-emergence of the Religious Left in the Trump Era, what it means for the 2020 election, and if it can continue after the Trump years. Then, Brad talks to Dr. Benjamin Rolsky about his new book, "The Rise and Fall of the Religious Left," which focuses on Norman Lear and his media empire in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Brad and Dan continue their discussion of the history of the Christian Religious Left. They try to figure out how Mainline Protestantism won massive cultural victories in the 20th century, only to decline rapidly in terms of membership and political visibility.
Brad and Dan kick-off a series on the Religious Left by giving a brief history of the Christian Left over the last century. They highlight four main differences with evangelicalism: approaches to the Bible, the relationship between science and religion, the end of the world, and the Social Gospel vs. Individual Piety.
Brad talks with journalist Tom Lobianco about his new book, "Piety and Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House". They discuss his road to politics, his faith, and his tumultuous ride as Trump's VP.
Brad talks with Harvard Divinity Student, activist, and former student Thomas Mitchell about Kanye's new album "Jesus is King." They discuss why this album is different, how Kanye has evolved, and how he is catering to white evangelicals.
When will evangelicals abandon Trump? Stop asking this question! They aren't going anywhere. Dan and Brad discuss evangelical reactions to the impeachment inquiry. They dissect why so many evangelical leaders--and high-level government officials--are threatening civil war if the president is impeached and/or removed. One thing is clear: the single group who is maintaining unwavering support for Trump's presidency = white evangelicals.
Brad talks with Dr. Kelly J. Baker, author of the award-winning book "Gospel According to the Klan." They talk about how and why the Klan's story is THE story of white Protestant America and how the Klan is an important antecedent to the modern-day Religious Right.
On an episode recorded this summer, Dan and Brad discuss why American evangelicals bow before the idol of handheld killing machines. They talk about the symbolism involved, the American exceptionalism it invokes, and what to do about it.
Brad shares his former apocalypse extremism. Dan draws on his expertise in apocalyptic literature to unpack how evangelicals envision the end of the world and what it means for their relationship with Israel. Then Dan speaks with Dr. Chrissy Stroop about evangelicals' problematic "love" for the Jewish people. They also get a preview of the new book, "Empty the Pews," co-edited by Chrissy Stroop and Lauren O'neal.
Brad and Dan are joined by Professor Kristin du Mez, an expert on evangelical masculinity and culture. They discuss why evangelicals imagine Jesus to be a heterosexual strong man, gender complementarity, #churchtoo, and the damaging effects of patriarchal church cultures.
Brad and Dan discuss the startling ways that the Religious Right has aligned itself with Far Right leaders across the world, including Vladimir Putin. They discuss why evangelicalism has transformed from envisioning Russia as enemy number one to a friendly ally in the fight for "family values."
Dan's interview with Professor R. Marie Griffith, author of Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics. Dan and Prof. Griffith discuss the surprising history of evangelical positions on abortion, and how evangelical extremism has left no room for nuance in the debate.
Dan and Brad revisit the issue of abortion in evangelical politics and culture. They examine evangelical support for heartbeat bills, what's behind the phrase "culture of life," and what opposition to abortion does for evangelicals. They also discuss how support for heartbeat bills can lead to heartlessness on other issues.
On Episode 2 of Season 2, Dan and Brad discuss how evangelicalism is a fundamentalist worldview and what that means for why evangelicals are so prone to nostalgia and so resistant to societal and political change. They also illuminate why fundamentalists are willing to use symbolic and physical violence to advance their cause.
In the season finale, Brad and Dan discuss immigration with Dr. Janelle Wong, Core Faculty in Asian American Studies and Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. Professor Wong discusses her new book on evangelicals and immigration in an era of policy change.
Our discussion of purity culture, gender complementarianism, and our interview with the Revernd Sarah Buteux, Associate Pastor of First Churches in Northampton, which happens to be Jonathan Edwards' church.
Brad and Dan's interview with Reilly, Associate Pastor at Presbyterian New England Church in Saratoga Springs NY. Reilly shares how she grew up evangelical, realized she was gay right about the time she received the call to ministry, and her role as a possibility model to young people.
Part II of our three-part series on white evangelicalism and LGBTQ+ issues. Dan's interview with ethicist and former AAR president David Gushee, who left evangelicalism after changing his views of LGBTQ relationships.
THIS INTERVIEW IS EYE OPENING!
Brad's interview with his Skidmore colleague Dr. Myev Rees. Dr. Rees is an expert in evangelical culture, particularly the issues of womanhood, motherhood, and "angel babies." We discuss martyr mommies, the potential end of Roe, and evangelical approaches to life.
Many evangelicals are single-issue voters when it comes to abortion. Brad and Dan discuss the historical development of this trend, and why it represents more than just a concern for the "unborn." Brad describes how this issue helped usher him out of evangelicalism (first discussed in this article: http://religiondispatches.org/pro-born-a-former-evangelical-on-the-single-issue-politics-of-white-christians/)