You Lost It

I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

We’re losing an entire generation. They’re just gone. It’s one of the worst things to happen to the Church.”

A generation ago, getting to your evangelical church meant walking through a parking lot brimming with “I Found It!” bumper stickers. You saw them everywhere in the ‘70s. It was a marketing strategy of Bill Bright, who came up with a form of passive evangelism designed to pique someone’s curiosity. If they asked, “I found new life in Christ” was seen as a perfect, non-threatening entrée to share one’s faith. And to share the story of life and life abundant that Jesus gave us.

“The Bible makes it clear that soul-winning is the business of every Christian,” wrote John R. Rice.[1] A generation ago, most evangelicals agreed with the fundamentalist Rice. Few evangelicals speak of “soul-winning” anymore. And evangelicals are no longer into bumper sticker evangelism. You’re more likely to see a few Trump/Pence stickers plastered on the car. In fact, most evangelicals today aren’t into evangelism at all. Statistics show Christians rarely share the “good news” of the Gospel. Hot Tub Church and/or Partisan Church have led to very few even managing to articulate it.

How did this sea change come about? Primarily because evangelicalism was wide, but very shallow. The late Michael Spencer was great at saying out loud things you couldn’t say in church. “The Christian life that was oriented to one thing: converting people”. He related how his youth pastor called him out for reading Packer’s Knowing God.Your purpose isn’t to know God. Your purpose is to win souls.” Like Corrie ten Boom, who wrote “The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life!”.  The Good News is all about how people can go to heaven when they die, and there was a “wretched urgency” to win their souls for Christ.

Evangelicalism is all about personal salvation. Ask Jesus into your heart – a phrase nowhere found in the Bible – and He’ll reward you with eternal security. Yet today, less than half of born-again Christians feel a strong responsibility to share the Gospel. This is the damage caused by Rapture-addled apocalypticism. The world is going to Hell; but like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I’m singing “I have the Golden Ticket”. I’m sitting in God’s waiting room to board Spaceship Jesus and get me out of this despicable place full of unsaveable people. It’s hard to pass on a form of faith that can take root and survive when we’ve already packed our escape bag and turned off the lights.

But before we depart, we need something to occupy our time. “Jesus’ entire discipleship program with his apostles was an academy designed to prepare them for service in the political arena,” noted Bryan Fischer.[2] Now there’s an idea: believe in a cause more than a faith. So, starting from Jerry Falwell’s I Love America rallies in the late ‘70s to Franklin Graham’s 50-state get-out-the-vote tours, political ideology has usurped the evangelical spiritual identity. That’s what’s holding evangelicalism together. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” Evangelicalism, you’ve lost it.


[1] John R. Rice, Soul Winning, Murphreesboro TN, Sword of the Lord Publ., 1944, 3.

[2] Bryan Fischer, “Jesus Groomed His Apostles for Political Office”, Self-Educated American, April 5, 2011. http://selfeducatedamerican.com/2011/04/05/jesus-groomed-his-apostles-for-political-office/

Nurseries of Sedition

There are any number of examples through history where millenarian Christianity fused with secular rebellion. Like Thomas Müntzer, Luther’s religious antagonist, who led the German Peasants’ War.[1] Or the antebellum Southern churches, which “led by their ministers, have gone heart and soul into the rebellion and the war against the Government.”[2]

The phrase Nurseries of Sedition became known during the English Civil War era to describe Dissenters whose aim was “not to spread the Word of God or the imitatio Christi, but with great caution and stealth” to support those intent on overthrowing the government.[3] The most radical among them made up the Fifth Monarchy movement, whose “millenarian convictions, combined with an assurance of divine sanction for their use of military and political means to bring down earthly governments and establish the reign of the saints to usher in the millennium.”[4] Funny thing about spiritual warfare: the fight is usually more visceral than supernatural.

“Christians should rule the world,” says Dominionist Michele Bachmann. Her hero is proto-culture warrior and fervent anti-abortionist Francis Schaeffer, whose son quoted him calling for “the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed.” Politics, for many evangelicals, is an apocalyptic, zero-sum struggle. Whether you’re a radical Atomwaffen devotee of accelerationism, or a Tim LaHaye-indoctrinated Dispensationalist, or a Dominionist/NAR/INC/Christian Reconstructionist immanentizing the eschaton, dismantling democracy is a small price to pay for a government of White supremacy, preferably theocratic. Secular and sacred sedition have the same goal: domination. We answer to a higher authority to get holy revenge. Don’t believe me? Try this: Let’s count Christian ministers who’ve advocated death for gays.

Evangelicals from across America hopped on a plane or bus to travel to the Washington “Save America March,” to have the president’s back as he has had ours. Many of their churches encouraged them to do so, some even hiring busses. “The name of God was everywhere during Wednesday’s insurrection against the American government,” writes Emma Green for The Atlantic. Like the January 6th Jericho march, whose organizer framed it as “denouncing any and all acts of violence and destruction”. Yet, the organization’s website listed skilled incendiaries like Mike Flynn, Mike “My Pillow’ Lindell, Eric Metaxsas as speakers that day. “I didn’t incite anything,” protests another speaker, convicted felon Ali Alexander. “The lord says vengeance is his, and I pray that I am the tool to stab these motherfuckers,” the Christian activist also said, which seems to be a slight contradiction. Giving a platform to these radical Christianists was like carrying lit matches into a gunpowder factory. Metaxsas boasted he was prepared to shed blood for Trump (although it conveniently turned out to be other peoples’). Also on their webpage was a large photo of Donald L’état, C’est Moi Trump with the caption, Be There, Be Wild.  This didn’t exactly have the makings of pious, law-abiding Christians being uplifted at a Billy Graham Crusade.

“The people who stormed that Capitol, the people who killed that police officer, were not a part of the kingdom of God, as some people claimed; they were a part of the kingdom of Satan,” Robert Jeffress stated. For once, this spiritual blowhard for Trump got something right. But many came from churches – probably a horde from First Baptist of Dallas as well. The Kraken comes in various flavors – evangelical being one of the most popular. “The day was peaceful,” writes the My Pillow Guy, “with police letting people in to both the Capitol grounds as well as to the Capitol itself, with some scuffles as the police tried to control the crowds so they would enter safely.” The trouble-free and non-violent First Amendment expression of civil disobedience peacefully resulted in five deaths.

Evangelicals who sit lovingly through Sunday church – probably including a number from Jeffress’ own – jumped the barriers and raged through the Capitol like a pagan horde. Pastor Caleb Cooper, a self-described “young firebrand revivalist,” recounts his exhilaration at being among the hordes of righteous Christians that invaded the Capitol. “The patriots were innumerable. They filled the top platform of the Capitol, with a sea of people extending down the stairs and into the courtyard and beyond. Over the crowd, I saw American flags, Trump flags and Appeal to Heaven flags being carried past the barriers and making their way to the top as the crowd began to sing the National Anthem and shout ‘USA’.” Meshawn Maddock, prominent Trumpist from Michigan, is proud to proclaim, “I’m a Christian and I believe that God qualifies the called.” She organized buses headed to the protest. The hometown paper reported that she and her husband joined a Facebook group which openly discussed civil war.

I don’t fault the pastors of a hundred thousand churches across America trying to keep their flocks together amidst a pandemic and political partisanship, both of which are out of control. I accuse the politically radical media Christians. Like Charlie Kirk, the college dropout that manages the Falkirk “think tank” – and who launched more than 80 busloads of Trumpists aimed at the Capitol. “This attempted coup,” writes Hemant Mehta, “could not have happened without the active participation of Christian Nationalists who have been brainwashed into thinking they’re victims of persecution by pastors who will never admit their role in this tragedy.” He’s not exactly right, but well on the way. Of course, there are Christian Nationalist/QAnon pastors – many of them – and he points to one in Minnesota who says Trump must enact martial law. But that is a man who “shepherds” in a black robe with an AR-15 strapped on. These blind folks feed a false Gospel to a blind congregation.

 “America’s problem is not political. It is religious fanaticism,” writes Frank Schaeffer. I don’t always agree with Schaeffer, but he is spot-on saying the “White evangelical delusion problem” is the enemy of democracy. We saw that in action on January 6th, as evangelicals essentially blessed the cannons. We’ve seen it intensify over the past four years, serving Donald Trump – the Cyrus President – as their new savior.

The riot, noted The Atlantic, was “a Christian insurrection”. I wish there some happy note to conclude on, but don’t see an end to it. Not until the various Christian media despots either repent or are deposed. “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” These evangelical fixtures are nurseries of sedition – against the government which they are to pray for and to submit to, but more importantly, against the Jesus of the Gospels. I pity a future of evangelical Christianity largely left in their hands.


[1] “Now if you want to be true governors, you must begin government at the roots, and, as Christ commanded, drive his enemies from the elect. For you are the means to this end. Beloved, don’t give us any old jokes about how the power of God should do it without your application of the sword.” William C. Placher, Readings in the History of Christian Theology, Vol.2 (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988), 29.

[2] Robert Livingston Stanton, The Church and the Rebellion (New York: Derby & Miller, 1864), 245.

[3] Jason McElligott, Fear, Exclusion and Revolution: Roger Morrice and Britain in the 1680s (Farnham: Ashgate, 2006), 193.

[4] Warren Johnston, Revelation Restored: The Apocalypse in later Seventeenth-Century England (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2011), 15

Sheep Without A Shepherd

The idols speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. – Zechariah 10:2 (NIV)

To kickoff the January 6th festivities, an almost invisible President chose to bless the Washington marchers in an hour-long tirade. Like a pre-game coach pumping up the team, he exhorted his very fine people to press onwards to the U.S. Capitol. He laid out no specific objectives for them, although his remarks were prefaced by Rudi Giuliani calling for “trial by combat”, and his son directing a threat to non-supportive legislators that “we’re coming for you”.

One thing we can be thankful for: Donald Trump was either too clueless to orchestrate the assault, or lacked the requisite cajones, to personally lead his motley collection of followers from the front. After his speech, he headed back in his armor-clad limo so he could watch its consequences unfold at a safe distance on Fox. Not uncommon for the Great Liar, he made one more hollow promise: “I’ll be there with you” to march from the White House to the Capitol. Unlike his hero, General George Patton who truly “had a pair,” Trump predictably dispatched others do his dirty work, and once again led from behind. At the same time, he disowned his fawningly-loyal Vice President for not having “the courage to do what should have been done”.

This was what his “patriot” devotees considered as his Joan of Arc moment at the Siege of Orléans. America’s Savior being AWOL was like a grand fête which the guest-of-honor adroitly disinvited himself. They raised lots of hell, but without a visible leader or plan of action, the rampage – apart from several deaths – achieved little more than a drunken Buffalo Bills tailgate. After his no-show, the myriad arrests and negative reactions left a bad taste in some MAGA mouths. “[He] tells angry people to march to the capitol [and then] proceeds to throw his supporters under the bus,” one disciple groused. The sheeple were momentarily pissed that their shepherd ducked out.

I will spend every day fighting for Christian values!”  Derrick Evans, a West Virginia legislator, was describing his fitness for office, and being an upstanding evangelical was at the top of the list. “I don’t know where we’re going. I’m following the crowd,” he was quoted, while pushing his way through a Capitol doorway, presumably with the busload of folks he organized to travel to D.C.  

No less than the paranoid Stalin once remarked that “Hitlers come and go; the German people remain”. That axiom may not apply to Trump, who will soon transition to be ordinary citizen Trump. But he won’t go away, only more and more removed from view – like C.S. Lewis’s Bonaparte, living in a handsome mansion in the far distant reaches of Hell, relentlessly muttering it was someone else’s fault.[1]

Trumps come and go; the Trumpists will remain. At least for the time being, the diffuse movement is licking its wounds from so many defeats, giving a respite to external enemies as they turn inwards to devour one another. But a wounded beast is the most dangerous.

With or without Mr. Trump, the radical millenarian crusade will continue. “It is the need not of liberty but of servitude that is always predominant in the soul of crowds”, wrote Le Bon. “They are so bent on obedience that they instinctively submit to whoever declares himself their master.”[2] The people wander aimlessly like sheep lacking their shepherd. It is a certainty that in Trump’s footsteps, there will be another murdering Barabbas to choose over Jesus; another anti-Christ like Nicolae Carpathia for them to follow. And so many Christians will be deluded, while saying “I don’t know where we’re going. I’m following the crowd”. 


[1] Lewis, C.S., The Great Divorce (New York: Harper Collins edition 2001), 11-12.

[2] Le Bon, Gustave, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895).

One Thing I Didn’t Miss This Election:

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s continued rise in national political influence. Jerry was AWOL during the time he would have been most useful to Trump – during the November general election. His face would have been spread across Fox News and its many imitators, pronouncing the evangelical doctrine of Trumpism. But that was not meant to be.

It’s amazing the power of a glass of “black water” can have. Soon after photos of Jerry aboard a yacht emerged with his hand around a woman’s (not his wife) midriff and zipper at half-mast, he resigned as President of his dynastic empire, Liberty University. There’s much more to this story, and Falwell denied any monkey business. Suffice it to say, casually embracing a woman on a yacht with pants undone – well, it was perhaps too suggestive of Presidential candidate Gary Hart, who in 1987 was snapped with Donna Rice sitting on his lap on the yacht, Monkey Business.

Well, there was some sordid sexual content involved in the scandal as well. Maybe harmless antics as defined in the secular world, but allegations with a pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda, that would besmirch Falwell’s reputation among evangelicals. “He enjoyed watching,” the young man alleged, confessing a years-long liaison with Falwell’s wife, while the husband was looking on approvingly. That’s not the story Falwell himself tells. In fact, he accused the 21 year old of extorting him and his wife with “outrageous and fabricate[d] claims”, and demanding money from them.

It’s a typical he said-she said story that would have ended there, except that Liberty University “moved quickly” to support and act on Granda’s allegations, which Falwell alleged destroyed his reputation. Falwell filed suit against his own university for defamation of character.

Anybody can file a lawsuit, alleging anything including the kitchen sink in the complaint. The meat and potatoes come during discovery, when something called evidence enters the picture. Depositions sworn under oath become important features. The truth typically comes out when people are being stupid and lying; they go to jail. Falwell withdrew his suit before it came to that steep step of truth.

I don’t know the facts; there is so much secrecy surrounding the evidence that no one will probably ever know the truth. But I’m a lawyer sitting on 40 years of experience, and a client doesn’t withdraw a suit sua sponte without a compelling reason. I wonder whether Falwell worked a deal with Liberty. Experience says, when you’re mudwrestling, even the winner comes out dirty. Not speaking specifically to this case, but an unforced withdrawal agreed as in the best interests of both parties usually means some sort of undisclosed benefit exchanged hands.

Of more curiosity to me is Falwell’s reticence to sue Granda for defamation of character. It’s all there; he has been most public in assertions which are no doubt injurious to Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s reputation as a committed Christian. And yet, there is inexplicable reserve from the lawsuit-prone former President. Perhaps in the spirit of Jesus, he is turning the other cheek in forgiveness. Sometimes, silence is the best way to let someone know they did you wrong. On the other hand, silence can speak volumes. Either way, I really do not miss the silence of Jerry Falwell, Jr.

You see if you shoot pool with some employee here, you can come and borrow money. – Old Man Potter, “It’s A Wonderful Life”

In 2020, the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act established the Paycheck Protection Program, creating a $350 billion kitty of forgivable loans for small businesses. The intent was pandemic relief for recipients to keep workers on the payroll and stay open in the near-term. The massive bailout program was rushed out, and hidden in a veil of secrecy, with the Treasury Department declining to disclose how it spent the funds or who the PPP recipients were. Eventually, the recipients were revealed – but only vague dollar ranges instead of specific awards were published. For example, records show that a family-owned shipping business related to McConnell’s wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, received a loan somewhere between $350,000 and $1 million. Chao disavowed any connection to the business or knowledge of the loan, although the New York Times reported that in the past, she had repeatedly used her official position to bolster the business. Their net worth is estimated between $25 and $35 million dollars. Meanwhile, the slipshod administration of the loan program opened the door to massive fraud, waste and abuse, with the Government Accounting Office declaring “the limited safeguards and lack of timely and complete guidance and oversight planning have increased the likelihood that borrowers may misuse or improperly receive loan proceeds.”. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner received million$, along with many in their orbit – even a golfing buddy.

Other friends of Trump made out like bandits – and evangelicals were especially keen on cashing in on free government money to the tune of $17.3 million. Joel Osteen’s megachurch received a $4.4 million check. Members of the President’s evangelical advisory board were exceptionally well-rewarded for their loyalty, with Paula White’s ministry receiving between $150,000 and $350,000, and Robert Jeffress’ church getting between $2 million and $5 million. Prestonwood Christian Academy, associated with Trumpist Jack Graham, received between $2 million and $5 million – but reported zero jobs being retained. There were numerous other ministries tied to the President that reaped a financial bonanza.

Like Daystar Television Network’s Marcus Lamb, who bought a Gulfstream V just two weeks after receiving a $3.9 million PPP loan. Ostensibly an operating expense to spread the Gospel, Inside Edition reported it was used like an airborne RV for family beach vacations. Lamb’s organization denied using the PPP loan to buy the luxury aircraft, although hastily repaid the loan.

There are so many questions here that nobody is asking. What did America buy with this bailout? Should taxpayers be obliged to underwrite debt-free ministries with plenty of cash to maneuver? These figures are so gargantuan that one questions why such an immense budget? Like the ministry leaders pulling down million dollar salaries – can’t they cinch up their belts a bit to keep the lights on, like most American households are forced to do. And why, oh why, are they considered too big to fail?

In 2008, when General Motors desperately needed financial aid to continue, the government authorized emergency loans to continue paying bills and making payroll, but tied strings to the bailout. GM would have to go through a bankruptcy reorganization, auction off assets to raise cash, reduce management ranks and cut executive pay. The CEO was ousted, shareholders like me were left penniless, and a new company emerged from bankruptcy to continue making the same old crappy cars.

The point is, if you are too big to fail, you should nevertheless pay a price for surviving on the public dole. The government doesn’t operate on grace, and everyone else shouldn’t be forced to keep a bunch of religious goofballs living the high life. The government had the leverage that Chuck Grassley wished he had in his 2008 investigation of tax-exempt religious organizations. Maybe we would have seen some genuine reform of tele-vangelism. Instead, we got shafted by people who shoot pool with some employee here.

I could have ended there, but can’t resist this apt quote about virus relief from Mitch McConnell: “Socialism for rich people is a terrible way to help the American families that are actually struggling,”

How To Become A Mega-Rich Evangelical

If you love being an evangelical so much, it makes perfect sense to make money off it. Multi-millionaire church leaders might seem like an oxymoron. But the leaders of the top 50 megachurches in America reads like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Many have done it using various methods, but if you want your faith to make you stonking rich, just follow this make-bank business model developed by the top of the evangelical stardom heap:

  1. Become a minister Pastorpreneur. Never mind seminary education and ordination, that’s old school. All you need is to have “vision” and trailblazing aspiration. 
  2. Begin a church. It doesn’t have to start as “mega” – every church has the potential to be church-growthed into a prosperous economic enterprise.  Make sure you form the 501(c)(3) and by-laws to remove transparency and make yourself bulletproof. Appoint your family into all the top positions. Make sure every employee signs an iron-clad non-disclosure agreement.
  3. Make outsiders think they possess a slice of authority, but never sacrifice control. And never, ever disclose how much church finances benefit you personally. Instead, humbly state it “would be the most arrogant thing I could do.”[i]
  4. Zero in on a comfy, white exurban area with down-market churches you can harvest. Cater to their lifestyle, offering greater spectacle and more buoyant life-affirmation. With a little talent, a dynamic praise band, and heavy advertising, soon you’ll be attracting people bored with their own churches to come and own a part of “what God is doing”.
  5. Tout yourself as the community’s church. Come up with high visibility events that get on local news. Become friendly with a few wealthy locals that will share your vision of moving up into that abandoned mega-mall across town. But never, ever ruin your pristine carpet by taking in flood victims!
  6. If the Bible doesn’t fit into your revealing of the deep mysteries of Scripture, make stuff up. Just speak in the love language of God. Nobody reads the Bible anymore anyway.
  7. A rock star preacher does more than pastor a church. Podcasts, Facebook followings, books, blogs, uploaded sermons, public appearances, speaking engagements and conference: these all make Jesus – and particularly you – famous. The more prominent you are, the more you become a religious wholesaler on the path to riches. The impetus is to diversify the client base into a religious conglomerate.
  8. You have a flock of sheep people that can work for you!  Checks in the offering plate can bankroll your writing side-business. Use staff time and church resources to do the leg work behind your books, the royalties of which wind up in your pocket. There are some loosely-worded financial accountability standards, but most churches don’t mind sermons and study materials developed on church time and with church resources (double-dipping). The bigger the megapastor’s footprint, the greater that church’s stature and influence. No ambitious church can argue with heightened public image and political clout.  Having a pastor who is a “go-to” media celebrity only enhances the cult status of the church and its brand recognition.
  9. Retain the enormously profitable proprietary rights over your books, videos, etc. Set up your own parachurch organization (which by the way pads the payroll with family members) to manage all your money under the same tax-free roof. Your parachurch can be transformed into an IRS-defined “church”, with greater opacity of finances to make it hard to follow the money.
  10. Form a separate for-profit business to receive book royalties, income from video productions, freelance speaking gigs to hype your products, etc. And while these assets are produced during your work for the church, and church resources are used to develop them, the copyrights are owned by you, the mega-pastor, through your personal side business.
  11. Disguise your books to look like works of love, not lucre. Donate copies of your books to the church for a personal tax deduction. Remember that your congregants are essentially captive customers. Sell thousands of them to the church bookstore below retail cost. No need to mark them up; you will already receive royalties up to 20 percent of wholesale. The objective is for the church to spend tithe money on numerous copies of your books to drive it onto a bestseller’s list. Everything the church does must be designed around your product line.
  12. For tax purposes, pour your assets into a CRUT (Charitable Remainder Unitrust) and name yourself as trustee. This complex tax shelter allows you, the donor, to pay yourself up to 90 percent of the assets over your lifetime, with 10 percent committed to a charity. (In the time-honored tradition of Ananias and Sapphira, it’s telling just the teensiest lie when a celebrity preacher boasts about donating his book proceeds to his church. He enjoys a hefty nest egg, while the church has to wait for whatever leftovers the trust has not exhausted by the time of his death).
  13. Expand your product placement without even having to leave the building through McChurches. Because the dream-weaver can only be physically present at one venue at a time, your image can now be teleported to preach in multiple campuses via video simulcast uplink. Franchising strings together a conglomerate of satellite operations to expand the revenue base. You do the speaking and take the offering plate, while a local staffer facilitates the satellite feed locally. You continue to profit as the main attraction, without having to pastor anybody.
  14. Remember that you are not only a person, you are a trademark. And that means protecting your property from potential rivals. The congregants are your job security, and they will take their business wherever mega-grifters offer greater spectacle. You’ll need to be trendier and produce more and better theatricality because your church’s back door is as open as it’s front.
  15. Follow these rules, and soon you’ll be a celebrity-leader collecting holy piles of other peoples’ money.

[i] Morgan Fogerty, “The Get with Morgan Fogarty: Pastor Steven Furtick”, WCCB-TV, Inc., November 10, 2015. http://www.wccbcharlotte.com/news/local/The-Get-with-Morgan-Fogarty-Pastor-Steven-Furtick–345443532.html  (accessed November 20, 2015).

America’s Best Christian

America’s Best Christian

It’s hard to watch Betty Bowers’ (aka America’s Best Christian) Youtube videos because she is so righteously cynical about evangelicalism. And like a roadside accident, its hard to look away. But I have my own nomination for America’s Best Christian: Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton. “We are in the position as the church, and as believers, we have to stand up and speak out,” he told a Grapevine, Texas congregation. But he hasn’t exactly spoken up about the first-degree felony charges for he faces for securities law violations. Or his extramarital affair. Or firing whistle-blowers accusing him of bribery and abuse of office; all high-ranking staffers in his office. Sounds like America’s Best Christian? Franklin Graham thinks so. He asked for urgent prayer concerning a suit filed by Paxton asking the Supreme Court to bar four states (in which Trump lost) from participating in the Electoral College. “Forces of evil are at work, and we know how much is at stake,” Graham wrote. In the real world, actual state attorneys general  have dismissed Paxton’s suits as “beyond meritless, beyond reckless”. So, I guess its a real toss up here: is it Graham, or is it Paxton who is America’s Best Christian. Your vote counts!

Old Men Yelling At Clouds

It may take a while sometimes, but most people can spot a phoney. And they want nothing to do with them. That describes the sad state of contemporary “evangelicalism”. They see wealthy telepreachers billing themselves as financial deliverers and tricking ordinary people to send in their hard-earned cash – some so brazen as to start a new year off by demanding the January paycheck or face consequences from God. They see the hypocrisy of evangelical leaders, most recent being a Trump sycophant and high-living Christian university president accused of sexual ‘games,’ and self-dealing.

They see preachers tell their congregations NOT to get vaccinated against COVID-19, because “that’s what Satan wants.” Or COVID-19-denying preachers dying, giving Holy Spirit immunity, or even shout “Hallelujah” when their church is ravaged by COVID. They hear lurid accounts of ballot-stuffed suitcases in Georgia, thankfully “caught” by Rudy Giuliani. The allegations were debunked as ridiculous – and the only thing Giuliani actually caught was a case of COVID virus. They may have seen him testifying (accompanied by what suspiciously sounded like him squeezing out a few farts), and then trying to shush his wacky “star” witness. They hear a Presidential advisor shouting an incantation of “victory, victory, victory, victory”, sounding more like a demented sorceress than a charismatic prophetess. Even Rush Limbaugh admitted Trump supporters are coming across as ‘kooks‘.

That is what the empty shell of evangelicalism looks like today. Trump didn’t invent Trumpist ideology – he simply was the opportunity for fringe politicians and fringe religionists to usurp the mainstream. “And this ends up feeding doubts about religion itself,” notes David Gerson. People see evangelicals standing with racists, white nationalists, homophobes, and misogynists, and ask themselves, “is Christianity a faith I want to be associated with?” More and more people have answered “no”, including many who voted with their feet walking out the church door. Some churches are happy to see them go, like one that uses a detailed questionnaire to see if you’re a perfect enough Christian to worship with that select few. Others just discard large swaths of humanity as “unsavable” – meaning those “who are politically or socially liberal and should be eschewed”. Where is Jesus of the Gospels in that? Who, by the way, can be expected to believe the truth of the Gospel from Franklin Graham’s mouth when it is so crammed with bullshit about Trump?

Trump scores an “A” for truthfulness on the American Christian Voting Guide. Fred Clark, who writes as Slacktivist, asks rhetorically whether Trumpism is harming the evangelical witness. No, he answers himself. “It is your witness. The entirety of it, for all the world to see. And that message is coming across loud and clear.” The inmates believe Trump is the embodiment of truth, and they are running the insane asylum. And the mentally unstable can’t understand why droves of perfectly normal humans are exiting their bogus Christian brand in disgust. For them, it is the unifying message of Christ.  To everyone else, its clear that truth no longer matters to them. “It’s bearing false witness against President Trump to say he seeks to divide us,” evangelical professor Wayne Grudem comments.  We didn’t need him to divide us, our white American Jesus has been doing it pretty well already. Looks like that Jesus has finally succeeded. And it makes our faith look like Grandpa Simpson yelling at clouds.

If you are an evangelical looking to bail out, I can only say I don’t blame you. But hang in there. Find someplace that is not a Patriot Church and still preaches only the Gospel. Our Wheaton concert band went on many regional tours, and we overnighted with honest, decent Christian families through “fly-over” America. I often think of ta particular church in rural Kansas, and how wonderful the people were. And I pray that they’ve remained the same. My advice is, look for a non-political congregation – they’re out there. Try the ELCA or the Evangelical Covenant churches. There is a loving home for you to recover your wounds and heal.

Gott Mit Uns

God Is Not Finished With Donald Trump. “He sees his claims of fraud as driving up donations – there’s nothing behind it beyond greed. Trump is using the moment to raise money.” Michael Cohen, a man who knows a thing or two about @RealDonaldTrump, surmises that Trump’s post-election misbehavior is all about keeping himself foremost in the minds of his followers and shaping public opinion in his favor. And, of course, making money off of it. Like his Election Defense Fund, a misleading but lucrative revenue stream intended to fund his post-presidency political apparatus. The Washington Post reports that there is no account associated with the so-called Fund, and most money goes to a new Super-PAC he recently set up. “He’s a brilliant thinker,” writes Paula Furr-Knight-White-Cain, “who tends to walk several steps ahead of the masses.” She could have added, “… and the courts”.

Operation Valkyrie; except without Tom Cruise. Prophet Dutch Sheets says it was revealed in dreams that “Valkyrie” was the demonic code name for the operation to steal the election. He put out a 24/7 prayer call – along with his donation plea – declaring his strategy would cause Valkyrie to fail. Perhaps he never saw the film by the same name, where the good guys used an operational plan to remediate the failure of an evil German government. Seems like quite an ironic inversion to me. Meanwhile, Prophet Rev. Dr. Sheets is making an “Appeal to the Supreme Court of Heaven”. You see, if facts go against your prophecies in “the natural” (translation: the real), you always have the supernatural, where you can simply make things up.  “It is God’s will for Trump to win this, not Biden,” he insists, a month after the election. Look for wacky charismatics pretending Trump really still reigns supreme, but in Heaven where sorry, you can’t see it. For the next four years, get ready for denying there is no President Biden, only a usurper like his former boss.

Gott Mit Uns. You would think that an erudite evangelical who wrote a sloppy book to pose as the world’s foremost authority on Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have better sense than to state that “God is with us”. Seriously? At the risk of invoking Godwin’s law, I have to remind people this motto was embossed on Nazi belt buckles. That God sides with nationalistic groups and their politically-radicalized churches is a recurring historical theme, most notably to me being the “white man’s country” of former South Africa, and its elevation by the white supremacist Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, which supplied the mythical theo-political foundation of the Afrikaner identity. What evangelicals really need to be asking themselves is, “are we with God?” If they were serious, they would hear God’s answer is “No. Repent from your sinful self-pride.”.

Oh! Listen, there’s an odor in there and I didn’t do it.” In My Point…And I Do Have One, Ellen Degeneres describes exiting a stinky airplane restroom and having to explain that the smell was there already. I feel embarrassed like that when people refer to “evangelicalism”, or rather the sociopathic free market religion it has become. I didn’t make the stink, but I have to live with it. I refer to those who seem comfortable in their own sanctified odor while calling out the farts of everyone else.  “We confess the sins of our country as proxies,” prays Michele Bachman. Proxies represent someone else. The self-narrative as the high priestly-class of America holds evangelicals back from admitting any sins themselves. National sin is the problem of other people; Christians are the good guys. Because sin has been externalized – so the argument goes – they are ordained to purify the rest of the nation. “But who,” wrote Solzhenitsyn, “if not we ourselves, constitutes society? This realm of darkness, of falsehood, of brute force, of justice denied and distrust of the good, this slimy swamp was formed by us, and no one else”.[i]


[i] Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr, From Under the Rubble, New York: Bantam Books, 1976, 117.

The Problem With Judaism: All The Good Jews Live In Israel

I recall my mother-in-law, a refined Mississippi lady, announced with some surprise that a Jewish family had moved onto their cul-de-sac. Like many evangelicals, I doubt she had ever known a single Jew before. To meet a real live Israeli is an even rarer occurrence within this religiously-sheltered movement. To know one, they say, is to love them. But Jews don’t go to a megachurch, so evangelicals don’t know any. Except on television. But they claim to love the Jewish people – or at least, love Israel.

It’s cool to be a Jew — if you’re also an evangelical Christian, writes Sam Kestenbaum. Messianic Jews are a popular item on Christian television these days, keeping a semblance of halacha, while their audiences of elderly goyim blow shofars like party favors. Some “rabbis” are ekhte yidn that now claim Jesus Christ as Mashiach; they make millions off their new tribe of philo-Semitic goyim. “We’re in the Middle East because of Israel,” Trump said – a calculation in large part aimed at Christian Zionists “reached by televangelists and megachurch pastors preaching the End Times” – and who outnumber Jewish Zionists. His cabinet has been overflowing with evangelicals who are also staunch Christian Zionists, including Mike (“my-Christian-faith-compels-me-to-cherish-the-state-of-Israel”) Pence, Mike Pompeo, Nikki (“The-days-of-Israel-bashing-are-over”) Haley, and Rick “I’m-more-Jewish-than-you-think-I-am” Perry.

All these professions of undying love derive from biblical eschatology and the pivotal role of Israel they read into in the end times. The most popular apocalyptic stream in American evangelicalism today is premillennial dispensationalism, a cultic form of salvation history (Heilsgeschichte) “rediscovered” a century-and-a-half ago. Going through all its twists and turns is more tedious than Wagner’s Ring Cycle. For those interested, you could go to Dallas Theological Seminary and sit through three insufferable years of it. Suffice it to say, God made two covenants with Abraham: to give Israel as an everlasting possession, and to bless all peoples on earth through him. God’s primary concern is keeping his word through their ultimate fulfillment in the triumphant return of Christ. This present Gentile-ruled age will conclude in increasingly severe judgments, and world catastrophes. Before it gets to Israel-hating countries tossing atomic bombs like water balloons, true Christians will be surreptiously “raptured” to Heaven. Left-behinders – made famous through Christian pulp fiction dreck – endure a Superpower Death Match in which three invading armies ravage Israel, and leave a third of mankind dead. It foresees the conversion of global Jewry, which will inaugurate the Second Coming.

What irritates evangelicals is that Jews don’t seem in as quite a hurry to see the world get incinerated as they are. “Jews Welcome Evangelical Love, Money and Influence for Israel. But Call Our Christianity ‘Poison’”, Michael Brown, a converted Jew, writes. I suppose it’s a normal reaction from anybody that feels used as a pawn, not loved as a person. Or share their joy in a divinely-ordained destiny that edges the world towards conflagration. There’s a bit of “just wait and see; I told you so” conceit when the preacher’s offer of salvation is rejected. How can the Jews frustrate [our interpretation of] God’s will?,” Brown asks. “I suspect that, consciously or not, end-times believers crave apocalypse”, writes Dina Nayeri. “They want a leader who will return them to the past, or barring that, hurry it along to its end.”

“All they are interested in is their interpretation of Biblical prophecies.” A millenarian cult and the trust of influential U.S. officials in politicized prophecy results in foreign policy towards Israel being de-Judaizasied. Even today, Christian broadcast networks have 24/7 cameras at the Mount of Olives trained to bring live feed when Jesus touches down. To the dispensationalist mind, hastening the apocalypse (immanentizing the eschaton) is good for Christians, regardless how bad it gets for everyone else. “Many of them relish the second coming because for them it means eternal life in heaven,” a professor of religious studies said. “There is a palpable danger that people in high position who subscribe to these beliefs will be readier to take us into a conflict that brings on Armageddon.” Like he was casually planning another golf round, President Trump threw out the idea of a bombing campaign against Iran. He was warned down by advisors that a major conflict would erupt with unpredictable consequences. Sort of a last-minute foreign policy option to thank incoming President Biden for a rigged election by gifting him a toxic and even deadly diplomatic crisis.

Being pro-Israel does not translate into being pro-Jewish, however. Despite professions of undying love for Israel, anti-Semitic beliefs seem to be growing among evangelicals. It’s never been far below the thin veneer of Christian refinement. “A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine,” Billy Graham commented to Richard Nixon during a 1972 White House meeting. “They swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.” Good Jews live in Israel. But not here. American Jews are overwhelmingly devoted to the Democratic Party and espouse liberal ideals. According to Trump, Jews who vote Democratic show ‘great disloyalty’. He tells them, he loves “their” country – but apparently they do not love “ours”. And “some very fine people” were neo-Nazis at Charlottesville.

Overt anti-Semitism is growing among evangelicals – a movement which sometimes overlaps with the far-right. One major influence is Q-Anon, which with demonic baby-eaters and a global Satan-worshipping conspiracy run by Jewish billionaires is a revision of that odious book of libels, The  Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A Christian broadcaster claimed George Soros was paying $50 an hour to go protest and riot. (He heard it authoritatively from a friend who heard it from another friend.) Ginni Thomas, evangelical wife of a Supreme Court justice, spins the conspiracy theory that George Soros is the evil mastermind behind the Democratic Party.

That’s the way the Jews work,” says nutball end-times evangelist Rick Wiles. “They are deceivers, they plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda.” Wiles received White House press credentials. Not once, but again even having called Trump’s impeachment a “Jew coup”.  The chief banker funding the satanic sedition against President Trump is George Soros, he maintains. Once relegated to the lunatic fringe, fascist crackpots are now the most influential evangelical voices. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example: U.S. Representative-elect and committed Christian. Also a Q-Anon believer who wrote that Zionist supremacists were flooding Europe with migrants to wipe out the white population – the so-called “Great Replacement Conspiracy”.

“‘Respectable’ conservative evangelicalism has always been a fig leaf,” writes David French. The darker of its impulses are rising to the top. Trump – along with his motley crew of religious courtesans – will leave the White House soon, but the odor will linger like a twenty-dollar hooker’s. Christian anti-Semitism is only getting started. To my Jewish friends, be wary and remember Elie Wiesel’s words:

I’ve got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He’s the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.[1]


[1] Wiesel, Elie, Night (New York: Hill and Wang) 2006, 81.