The Christian Breitbart

Because he appears repeatedly on this blog, it may seem I have knives out for Dr. Richard Land, SBC honcho and Christian Post executive editor. He’s an unabashedly loyal Trumpist culture warrior. He also an erudite and seasoned religion professor. Which is why I wonder why the most inane bullshit spills from his Christian brain onto the opinion pages of the Christian Post Breitbart.  That he and his Christian news website have turned rabid MAGA is not my random personal delusion. In 2019, longtime political editor Napp Nazworth was quit-fired after opposing a strong Trump-supporting editorial. He likened the Christian news website to the far-right website Breitbart. “We are now on Team Trump”, management told him.

This time concerns Land’s op-ed of August 26th, “The Mar-a-Lago raid: A constitutional ‘tipping point’?” Land criticizes the “very general and controversial search warrant” executed by the FBI, accusing the government of “trampling the Fourth Amendment”. In fits of partisan hyperbole, he excoriates the government as acting like a banana republic, and suspecting the FBI of planting evidence. “How do we as Americans step back from this dangerous political precipice?” Answering his rhetorical question, Land says “it is up to the people (that’s all of us, folks) to hold all three branches of our government accountable to keeping the guarantees specified in our Constitution.”

Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, former presidents are required to give all White House and presidential records back to the federal government when they leave office. Keeping such records on private property such as Mar-a-Lago is a violation of that Federal law. Evidence of storage of documents and materials related to national security was compelling enough – including a number of sworn cooperating witnesses. A pile of boxes – with some 300 highly classified pages – casually stashed a basement stairway. What does Dr. Land not see there about “holding all three branches of our government accountable”? This material wasn’t Donald Trump’s personal property any more than a soldier can hang on to his GI-issued assault weapon after he leaves the Army.

Land suggests that if the Federal Government can get away with abandoning the constitutional rights of a former President, who is safe from abuse? Well, thankfully there are limits to 4th Amendment rights to privacy. Otherwise, the (extensive) list of SBC ministers and church workers accused of sexual abuse – including child pornographers – would have remained hidden from scrutiny and never seen the light of day. And just as in the search for child pornography on convicted Christian Josh Duggar’s computer, there was evidence convincing enough for a Federal judge to issue a probable cause to believe the illegally mishandled documents at Mar-a-Lago contained some of America’s most sensitive secrets.

I agree with a commenter to his piece, who wrote: “I’m a conservative, born again Christian, but I’m disgusted by what I just read.  There were certainly a few valid points, but they were lost in the drivel.  This article is not just stating a view – its ignoring glaring facts in its writing and shows cult-like endearment to our former president.  It’s disturbing.”

This is what happens when MAGA Christian activists decide they are experienced Constitutional lawyers. The facts suggest Dr. Land should drop his screed about Trump’s  Fourth Amendment rights being violated, and just go with the “How Dare They Mess With The LORD’s Anointed”. Because facts are not important for Breitbart Christians. And because for them, the Divine Trump is not bound by the rules intended for lesser humans. Like self-proclaimed “prophet” Robin Bullock reporting that God is very upset about the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago: “God didn’t like that. It didn’t sit well in Heaven.” Kick it up to the heavenly courtroom of God if you don’t like how our democracy works down here on earth.

Too Big To Fail

“I think everyone should be upset about this and, again, Joe Biden is off the rails,” spouted Christian spite-witch Marjorie Taylor Greene. Biden should be impeached after the decision to forgive student loans, she huffed. Her outrage reflects the attitude of many evangelicals: “It seems outrageous to me that any President has the power or authority to cancel legal contracts with the stroke of a pen,” a representative commenter replied to a Christian Post article.

In contrast, evangelicals didn’t complain about the CARES Act PPP, the SBA-guaranteed small business loan program.. In fact, some 50% of churches with more than 200 members applied for a “loan”, with “evangelical leaders tied to President Donald Trump and megachurches tied to scandals pulling in some of the largest payouts”. COVID-19 was a financial bonanza for evangelicals. And they all knew it, replete with secret phone calls from the White House, being “walked through how to obtain emergency funding from the government. Participants in the calls prayed together and thanked officials for ‘blessing’ them with the opportunity to receive millions in taxpayer dollars, even without being tax-exempt or meeting requirements necessary for non-religious organizations.”

Joyce Meyer Ministries, was approved for a $5 million to $10 million loan; Robert Jeffress’ First Baptist Dallas, a loan between $2 million and $5 million; Willow Creek church, between $5 million and $10 million. Despite the intent of PPP to save jobs, the church decided instead to keep the money and cut 92 staff positions. James Dobson’s Family Institute was forgiven $668,549. Mike Bickel of IHOP got $2.5 million. The Crouch dynasty Trinity Broadcasting helped itself to $3.3 million. The American Family Association, a designated hate group, managed to pull $2 million. Steve Furtick wangled $3.6 million, even though his church ended 2019 with a cash surplus of $26 million. Jimmy Swaggart got $2.6 million. Even convicted felon Jim Bakker got into the act, receiving some $400K. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s all exposed – some 400 evangelical ministries and churches – and in the open on the Trinity Foundation website. What happens afterwards – what they do with the money – is locked behind IRS rules protecting churches from transparency in some very opaque finances.

Funny how all these good Christian folks, greedily sucking at the government tit, had no second thought about helping themselves to hard-earned public taxpayer money. And many of them ran some very impressive balance sheets. Along with stashed personal wealth galore. Like the late multi-millionaire and anti-vaccine televangelist Marcus Lamb’s Daystar Network, which took $3.9-million, and turned it around to buy him a multimillion corporate jet. It took an outcry generated by an investigative journalist for Lamb to cough the PPP funds back up. Not like they suffered to meet payroll like struggling mom-and-pop small businesses. Or, the black-owned businesses, which received a paltry 1.9% of loans.  The design was politically maneuvered as a set-up to reward loyal Trump soldiers for their godly obesisance.

And so we return to Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose own business had loans worth $183,504 forgiven. “At the stroke of the pen”, her government indebtedness was expunged. No hypocrisy there, nosiree bob. And these are shofar-blowing zealots for the Lord who adore the Old Testament, reveling in God’s command to murder all the gays.  Yet none of these ram’s horn blowing capitalists ever mention the Israelite Year of Jubilee, which came every 50th year, being a year full of releasing people from their debts, releasing all slaves, and returning property to who owned it (Leviticus 25:1-13).

The hypocrisy is palpable. It should outrage any American taxpayer. Especially a Christian, who disagrees with financially supporting a church or ministry “too big to fail” he/she otherwise shuns as heretical or sham. Meanwhile, thousands of former college students are struggling through an uneasy job market, inflation, and tuition loan repayments. One only needs point to the bait-and-switch Trump University, where “the billionaire had made enough money for himself. Now, he would put his famous brain to work for the little guy“. God cares for the little guy. For glutinous Trump and Taylor Greene, the little guy just gets in the way of the trough. Jesus instead says the little guy is too small to fail my love.

Let’s blow a shofar for student loan forgiveness! 

Saying The Silent Part Out Loud

We are constantly reminded of the holiness of televangelists – by themselves. Like Kenneth Copeland, whose spiritual purity would be sullied if he took a commercial flight in “a long tube with a bunch of demons”.  Whenever I board a plane and head back to the cheap seats, all I see is a bunch of entitled white people in first class – just the demographic Copeland would feel comfortable with. But because this man of God is creeped out to be around normal (lesser) humans, he needs his own private business jet – together with a hangar full of holy spare airplanes.  And how about the divine extortion scheme run by Paula Cain, where she informed her members to sign over their January paychecks to her. Or bad things would happen to them.

“The nondenominational megachurch has made it easier for charlatans, or those who simply seek autonomy, to shelter themselves from accountability”, according to Ministry Watch. Nobody has been watching these scam-vangelists for so long that they have convinced themselves of their invincibility. And so they grow bolder in explaining how it really works.

“I’m not worth your McDonald’s money? I’m not worth your Red Lobster money?” A pastor was haranguing his “broke” congregation because they did not buy him the luxury watch he wanted. “You know I asked for one last year. And here it is all the way in August and I still ain’t got it”, he scolded.  At least he is a truth-teller in admitting that the prosperity church is nothing more than a counting house. The greed no longer hides behind Jesus’ robes.

Likewise, the Christian Extremist Right feels secure enough now to show their cards. It’s been alluded to, hinted at, or implied – but finally now, they confirm it. According to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, “we were a nation founded upon, not the words of our founders, but the words of God because he wrote the Constitution.”  Now they have made the jump to decree that the words of the Constitution are “God breathed” – dictated word-for-word in Kynge Jaymes Englyshe, free from error and infallible in all respects. The Holy Spirit controlled the anointed Founding Fathers, just like with the verbally, plenary inspired Bible. Odd then, that the Constitution sounds more like a product of Freemasonry that nowhere mentions the word “God”. Funny, if it is inerrant, as Scripture supposedly was, I don’t recall the Bible having to be amended 27 times. Truth is incontrovertible; it doesn’t evolve. Nevertheless, our Constitution has been now officially decreed a further Word of God.

Holy War must be waged by a divinely-anointed Leader. While the Constitution makes provision for a President, it says nothing about his (her) divinity. Yet Right-wing pastor/MAGA cultist Shane Vaughn declares that “Donald Trump carries the prophetic seal of the calling of God: Donald Trump is the messiah of America.” Vaughn is no outlier; he reflects core covenants of the Christian Right. For many, Trump is the second coming of God. Jesus our Savior gave his life for America, and Trump our Chosen One – the new man of sorrows – sacrifices his own every day for us. A billboard in Georgia proclaimed For Unto Us A Son Is Given  , taking the text from Isaiah 9:6 and applying it to the heaven-sent Trump in bold letters. We no longer have to read between the lines – they are being open and honest about an autocratic Christian States of Amerika.

I occasionally have this nightmare that the Christianity practiced around me is normal while I am the dystopian one. God blesses the greedy; God loves a holy hunger for worldly power and domination. Evangelicals are finally saying the silent part out loud. The truth is out, but it doesn’t look like the Truth I know.  That Truth left the building some time ago.

Euthanizing Public Schools

It hardly needs saying that evangelicals despise public education. It’s been a long-simmering hostility that is breaking out into open warfare. Think of Betsy DeVos and her campaign to privatize schools to snatch away public funding instead for religious schools.  Christianists are dumbing down education, from intimidating school boards (including violent threats) and pitting their Christian values against “Marxist indoctrination” and “transgender grooming”, to proposing bills allowing parents to sue the school or individual teachers for “contradicting a student’s religious beliefs” – whatever that could possibly mean.

Already, culture warriors have cleared (ideologically sanitized) classroom libraries of books they’re unhappy with (and probably have never read). One woman told a school board that her pastor, rather than librarians, should decide which books should be allowed on public school shelves. It’s either poisoning young minds or strangling student learning, depending on how you look at it. Schools have culled anything from classroom libraries that wasn’t part of the approved curriculum, leaving empty shelves. One Florida district instructs teachers to place “under construction” signs where their classroom libraries would be and to make them “cute.”

It’s not just a war against books, but more importantly, teachers. Teachers “work 20% less. They have school– they have the summers off”, says one Fox News host. That’s the mentality that forces them, on average, to make 20% less than other professionals. It also smacks of someone who has never taught.

A teacher has precious little personal time, from arriving early to set up the classroom and lesson, to staying long after dismissal to meet with struggling students and make parent follow-up calls. A teacher usually gets a free period – which often is consumed by grading, Xeroxing, or dashing to the plentiful departmental meetings. Weekends involve grading, particularly in essay-oriented writing courses. Or, consumed in completing on-line seminars mandated by the board. Or going over newly- white-washed lesson plans. And summers are taken up with continuing education to maintain their certifications. This off-the-clock work is essential to the job – you know, the one where they work 20% less.  

And how many professions expect their employees to furnish their own supplies and equipment? “We buy everything”, a teacher preparing her classroom for the first day complained. “How much of my own money am I expected to spend?”  Having taught at high school level, I can vouch for her frustration. Everything from organizing tubs to poster materials for class projects to an electric pencil sharpener had to come out of my pocket.

This, on top of the fact teachers owe an average $58,700 because of their low salaries and high interest rates. Maybe that’s why America is suffering an acute teacher shortage. But Florida Gov. DeSantis has an idea, and “God is solving the teacher shortage”, proclaims a religious right site. He dismisses the traditional path of education as producing teachers who are simply “a cog in the indoctrination machine“. De Santis plans to fill vacancies with military veterans and law enforcement retirees – no experience or education degree necessary. “I love this,” says an OAN reporter. “Get rid of all these communist groomers who are responsible for indoctrinating our children. Replace them with men and women who actually respect and honor our nation.” So much for those who went deep into hock, schlepping their way to become qualified, certified, well-educated teachers.

Whether starving teachers and schools to death, or in lobotomizing students’ education, Christianists will find a way to kill off public education. Either way, our country will be much the poorer for it. Maybe Rudi Giuliani is correct:  the U.S. is “too dumb to be a democracy.” If evangelicals succeed in their approach, America will be an Idiocracy – a society governed and populated by idiots. If it’s any consolation, they will all be Christian idiots.

It Will Take God To Fix Franklin Graham

I hate to keep bringing up the favored son of Billy Graham. I wish he’d quit blocking the view of Jesus, but it seems Franklin Graham never wants to get out of the way. Like his Facebook post of earlier today:

“Former President Trump has called for the immediate release of the unredacted federal warrant related to the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home. I agree, why not release it and let the American people decide? Then, if it reveals that former President Trump has done something wrong, he will have to answer for it.” As far as your speculating whether he “has done something wrong” – that ship sailed when he first began instructing aides to pack up top secret documents he planned to steal and take with him to Mar-a-Lago.

Franklin, there’s a slight problem with the transparency you demand. Namely, a national security risk, possibly involving nuclear secrets or the identity of government spies.  Closer to home, Trumpworld is in a panic because it looks like there’s a mole in their midst. They’d love an unredacted warrant to find which insider ratted him out. Things have changed since 2016, when protection of classified information was a Trump priority: “In my administration, I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information”. 

And things have changed in Franklin’s world too. At his ordination service in 1982, he told the congregation, “I will proclaim the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world wherever I go in connection with my work. My whole purpose in my ministry is to tell others about Jesus Christ through the avenues which He gives to us.” Today it seems Graham has forsaken that first love. Graham’s purpose now is to extol the greatness of Donald Trump.

Franklin, the one thing most people excepting yourself, know, is that Trump is a lying crook. It’s about time you unhitched your wagon from that fallen star. Your sycophancy belittles you and opens the people of God to ridicule and scorn.

You say, “it will take God to fix the DOJ”. Why not take that advice yourself? “Remember then from where you have fallen. Repent and do the deeds you did at first.” It will take God to fix Franklin Graham.

Un-Presidented

No one could have missed this week’s lead story. A typical headline reads: FBI’s unprecedented search of Trump’s home stirs Republican outrage. It didn’t take long for the evangelical crowd to get in on the act. Conservative Christian leaders denounced the search as political persecution. Among the first to jump in was Franklin Graham. Graham’s fiefdoms – BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse – do worthy evangelical-ly works. Personally, he is an ass.

“I have no idea what was in former President Trump’s safe” he began, “but if the government thought there was something there that belonged to them, they certainly could have asked for it.”  Well, the government had. Several times. Franklin, why did he remove classified documents from the White House in the first place?  There also was a subpoena that went ignored. After negotiating with Trump, they eventually were given a cache, but not the lot. Still refusing to give the stuff back, Trump kept these under padlock. Franklin, why didn’t he hand them all over months earlier?

If Franklin could have kept from wetting his pants to get in front of the cameras, he might have learned that some of the classified documents Trump kept in his basement pertained to nuclear weapons. Secrets only shared among a very select few, and under highly controlled conditions. The search also focused on potential violations of the Espionage Act.

Trump has been egregiously unfit in handling state secrets. Signals intelligence – the most closely guarded secrets – including intelligence-gathering on Iran, was routinely mishandled by Trump. In 2017, the CIA had to extract its highest-level agent within the Russian government when Trump blew his cover while bragging to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. And then, the time he boasted to reporter Bob Woodward about a nuclear weapon “Putin and Xi have never heard about before.” Loose Lips Sink Ships, a WW II security maxim went. And Trump’s lips are some of the loosest. One journalist observed, “I never thought there was anything left that Trump could do that could shock me. But THIS? He took nuclear weapons and signals intel documents to his goddamn golf resort?”

Like a common Al Capone, Trump invoked the 5th amendment some 440 times relating to his dodgy business practices in New York. This is the same man who once mused, “if you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” “I don’t think the President is sitting there behind the desk trying to make up lies,” Franklin Graham once said of him. Meanwhile, a criminal fraud and tax evasion prosecution in NY is finally proceeding against the Trump Organization. Trump is on the cusp of making his status of organized crime gangster official. Trump once bragged he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters. Ever-adoring Franklin included among them.

Also in his comments, Graham – the dual-hatted/double-dipping religious magnate –expressed concern over news that the IRS plans to increase by 87,000 new personnel. You know, the agency that has utterly failed to enforce U.S. tax code provisions known as the Johnson Amendment, which prohibit churches from politicking on behalf of a candidate for public office. Christian organizations and politicians would love to see that disappear, opening the floodgates of “dark money”. And it just so happens that BGEA has received IRS designation as a §501(c)(3) “association of churches.” It draws a convenient veil of opacity over the organization’s finances, including disclosure of executive compensation.

Perhaps a concern about intensified tax scrutiny is his non-profit, Samaritan’s Purse – which finished 2021 with over $1.2 billion in net assets. One expert commented it generates “a profit margin that rivals the best companies.”  Funny, I thought it was a non-profit organization!  Senator Chuck Grassley once tried to shine a little daylight on self-dealing by tax-exempt televangelists, but it fizzled amidst protests of religious persecution. He learned government touches the third rail when messing with religious finances.  And assuming Trump is in the White House instead of jail in 2 years, any financial shenanigans by Christian organizations will never see the light of day.

If I summarize the above, is that Donald Trump and Franklin Graham need each other. They both have things to keep hidden.

God’s As$hole

No. I’m not referring to G-d, who is ineffable and utterly holy, bless His holy name. We humans are created in his image. But God is Creator, not a created being but spirit. And God doesn’t possess an anus, any more than He has other human anatomy, like a belly button.

In his controversial book, Naked Lunch, 60’s beat author William Burroughs told a story about a man’s asshole taking over speaking for him. It talked constantly, day and night in a “sound you could smell”. The man got fed up, futilely telling his ass to shut up. “It is you who will shut up in the end, not me”, the anus responded. “Because we don’t need you around here anymore. I can talk and eat and shit”.  The brain could no longer give orders anymore, and eventually died. I make the connection; the analogy is apt for today’s evangelicalism. Lots of celebrity evangelical “leaders” talking out their ass. And the body is dying.

The Apostle Paul applies a “body” metaphor to the church in 1 Cor. 12, noting that “the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty”.  Except today, “the decay from the top of the evangelical pyramid has left a stench so thick it’s hard to take American Christians seriously.” The Best And Brightest Voices of Evangelicalism™ are God’s as$hole, commandeering the entire body. It’s a target-rich environment. My Gosh, there such an engorged rectum in the body of American evangelicalism, its hard to mention only but a few.

Like the late Bernhard Ebbers,  CEO of WorldCom, who served 12 years of a 25-year prison sentence following a $11 billion “accounting discrepancy”, which was actually widespread fraud perpetrated by  dodgy accounting methods. It was the largest corporate fraud case in American history. Some 20,000 employees lost their jobs and shareholders lost about $180bn. Ebbers reportedly had told members of his Baptist congregation, “more than anything else, I hope that my witness for Jesus Christ will not be jeopardized”. The congregation gave the unrepentant Christian a standing ovation. WTF?

Another example: Nebraska State Sen. Mike Groene. He seems nice. The senator is a dedicated evangelical churchman. Meanwhile, his laptop was discovered with some 50 clandestine photos he took of a young female staffer. You know, innocent close-ups of her body parts, to which he took the time to edit and add titles. One was labeled “legs.” Another was labeled “rear tight.”  Asshole is as asshole does.

When asked, “do you think you did anything wrong?”, Groene replied, “I don’t believe so. I apologized. I did not apologize because I thought I did something wrong. I just apologized, because in their view, I had offended them.” Groene apparently escaped criminal prosecution by resigning his legislative office. He then went full-on persecution mode.  ‘I was like Jesus Christ’.  WTF? His wishes for the real victim: “he hopes [she] loses her job in the Legislature”.  

And finally, another Toxic Christian, Alex Jones. “He is a God-fearing Christian…and right now he needs our support,” said fellow professing Christian, Roger Stone. Jones, who comes from a Christian fundamentalist background, runs the wacked-out hate network InfoWars – what he terms a “Christian ‘self-help’ platform”. His perpetuation of lies that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax wound up– at least for now – in a $4.1 million judgment to the parents of a shooting victim. He was blind-sided in court, after swearing he had no pertinent emails – not even using email. Unknown to him, his attorneys goofed by forwarding voluminous phone records to the plaintiffs, exposing his perjury. Meanwhile, Jones filed bankruptcy against his own company, having devised a secured debt against it by another company under his control. Many legal experts see it as a veiled attempt to seal off his assets.

The sound you could smell”.  I could go on and on about asshole Christians. But I couldn’t stand the stench.

Trust and Obey

As a young evangelical, although I grew up surrounded by fundamentalism, I didn’t know much about it. Until the first week at Wheaton College, when most of my dorm-mates used their evenings to attend a Bill Gothard seminar, known then as Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts. I didn’t partake in that extra-curricular exercise, but I glanced through the hefty notebooks issued to each student.

Here was the cult-like teaching of neo-fundamentalism, spelling out in no uncertain terms who’s in charge. Contained therein was an overdose of hierarchic control. Trust and Obey, For There’s No Other Way. Being under authority is one of (since disgraced) Gothard’s most central teachings. Through copious diagrams, he stresses that a woman is subject to her husband; if single, her father remains in charge of her life. The husband is like a High Priest in charge under Christ and the wife totally subservient to the husband; her access to God is through her husband. The mother in turn exercises authority over the children. Presumably, likewise the children over the pets as being the least significant members of God’s family system. Bad, sinful things happen when that divinely ordained chain-of-command is violated.

I think back to Genesis 2, where God made a woman from a rib he had taken out of Adam. It’s a fascinating story. One which makes me have faith not so much because of what the Bible says, but often in spite of it. But for neo-fundamentalist literalists, they not only believe the Bible, they know its true in every respect. Things happened exactly that way because the Bible and Ken Ham say so.

In essence, Eve was a mutant. God made a new being from somebody’s body parts. Most people familiar with Frankenstein would consider that as creating a monster. And that is how neo-fundamentalists (i.e. – evangelicals) view women. A monster which must be controlled; caged by her master. Bad things happen when the monster is let off the leash.  

H.L. Mencken once observed, “morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told. Obedience is doing what is told regardless of what is right.” As religion, evangelicalism tends towards being a cult of (often blind) obedience. An old Gospel song recites, “Fix Your Eye Upon Jesus”. That’s great, except we need our peripheral vision to not bump into things. Or obstacles, like other people and their annoying problems and demands, disturbing our blissful, solo walk with the Lord. The boss takes no crap from underlings in a scheme where all the shit flows downhill anyway.

Take the family, for instance. Jesus said, “I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.” Most people interpret this as you suffering because of your faith.  I see as well as other family members suffering because of your faith. Especially today, when religious organizations use the euphemism “Family” to disguise the fact they are really Extreme Right Wing lobby groups. And Christian families cheering on Trump’s border separation of minors from their undocumented parents. Or like the six-year old looking forward to kindergarten until being expelled from the Christian school because her parents are gay.

I’ve covered a lot of ground here. Let’s just summarize by saying evangelicals put the “nuclear” into family, where rigid conformity to a fundamentalist Diktat is more important than spiritual damage being done to the family. Trust and Obey: use carefully. Among other regrets, I obeyed James Dobson’s advice as a Godly father in spanking the kids. As Mencken implied, a person can be utterly spotlessly religious and still be an asshole. I was that asshole. And I repent.

Never Apologize

“Never apologize, mister. It’s a sign of weakness.” These words were said by John Wayne in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”. Wayne was not like other men; he was the ultimate personification of American Masculinity. As Kristin Du Mez points out, “Wayne would also emerge as an icon of Christian masculinity. Evangelicals admired (and still admire) him for his toughness and his swagger; he protected the weak, and he wouldn’t let anything get in the way of his pursuit of justice and order.” No Pussies Allowed.

Apologizing is not only not masculine, its un-Christian. There is a strong strand of evangelicalism that believes being Christian means never having to say you’re sorry. Your sins – past, present and future – are forgiven, so you don’t need to apologize for anything.  “For starters, where in Scripture are we instructed to apologize? I could go so far as to say, ‘Apologies are not biblical’”, one evangelical blogger declared. He’s right, seeing that apologizing is one of the only Christian virtues Jesus didn’t do Himself. And the World’s Perfect Christian, Donald Trump never apologizes.

Evangelicals love victory in Jesus. Evangelicals are pugilistic; they don’t back down. They hold the moral high ground. The worst thing you can accuse a fellow believer of is failing to lead a victorious Christian life. We are Overcomers in Christ. Amongst Bible believing evangelicals, moral self-righteousness is a common form of pride.

Christians need to stop seeing themselves as being more morally and spiritually superior. But saying “I’m sorry and I apologize” makes one emotionally vulnerable and signals a loss of power.   If there’s one trait among evangelicals that needs to change is the inability to hold themselves accountable to others – not just God.

Public School or Armed Indoctrination Camp?

I believe in America’s public schools. I went through them, and I’ve taught in them. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the terrible. I was once mentored by a senior teacher who allegedly retaliated against a student for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. “The classroom is not a pulpit. It is a place of education, not indoctrination”, said one of the attorneys who settled the litigation.

That lawyer is swimming against the tide. All throughout the U.S., cancel culture partisans are taking over, from school board to school library to school classroom to teacher-led school prayer on the football field. “Following woke indoctrination in our schools, that is a road to ruin for this country,” Florida Gov. DeSantis warned.  Don’t mention gay, lesbian or any sexuality in class. Don’t bring up race, except slavery wasn’t that bad. And don’t use the word “slavery” – it was involuntary relocation. Don’t allow masks. Don’t teach a distorted “woke  progressive” view of separation of church and state, because history proves our godly Founding Fathers in fact expected the Christian religion to be promoted by government. It used to be that school administrators acted against bullying. Now, they are the bullies themselves.

And it used to be that teachers were critiqued based on the curriculum they failed to teach, not for the lessons they successfully deliver. All this amidst a critical teacher shortage. Teachers are demoralized, burned-out, underpaid, over-worked, and quitting in droves. “I don’t know how we’re going to continue to live in this hostile environment, how we’re going to encourage educators to enter the field and stick around,” one Florida teacher sighed.

My youngest is now in a public high school in Cobb County, Georgia. The school board that prohibits “the discussion of divisive concepts”, including that “the United States of America is fundamentally racist”. You know, the same congressional district that keeps voting for White Nationalist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. It’s the same school board that once placed stickers on biology textbooks “to foster critical thinking among students” that evolution is a theory, not a fact concerning the origin of living things. And now, new and improved – with guns! 

A new policy in the Cobb County school district allows the Superintendent to authorize district employees to carry guns. Any school employee – bus drivers, cafeteria staff, janitors, librarians, guidance counselors – who passes typical gun-carry requirements can be armed. The Super reiterated that teachers would not be armed, although the written policy doesn’t say that. Ain’t nobody gonna try and filch a second apple pie at the lunch line now. Better return that overdue library book before Ms. Grump come looking for ya!

Our school district has turned a “community of learners” into an ideologically-pure armed camp. With all the stresses on high schoolers today, I can’t imagine having to concentrate on algorisms when your algebra teacher’s Glock is slung across his shoulder. Surely we as a nation can come up with a more sane approach than turning educators into gun-fighters, and schools into Ft. Apache. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not in school anymore, either as a teacher or a student. My sophomore son gives me enough to worry about.