Of Lice and Men…

We’ve all heard the many cockamamie reasons given by evangelicals for being anti-vax. Including the Holy Spirit Immunity offered by Kenneth Copeland by getting the gullible to touch their TV screen. Well, Jesus did say he people who think they’re righteous don’t need a doctor. Or, the insidious plan uncovered by Matt Staver to sterilize men and women through the inoculation.[i] It’s the problem in reverse to another nutbag, General Jack D. Ripper, who warily guarded his precious bodily fluids.

Here in the real world – as much as Texas can be – we’ve seen a spike this week of over 21,000 new cases. Hospitals in our region are in crisis mode, with only 27 ICU beds available for 6.6 million people in Greater Houston Area. Triage tents have been set up outside St. Luke’s Hospital in The Woodlands. Texas has requested extra mortuary trailers.

Today, our esteemed Christian governor, Gregg Abbott, tested positive for COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated. Now, those in close contact with him been notified.  Which is more than he’s allowed for Texas school children.

Under his March disaster proclamation – which has been upheld by the Texas Supreme Court – school officials must report positive results to the health department, but have no obligation to perform contact tracing or even notify parents of other students who may have been in contact with the child.

They’re kids – healthy, young, and Texas tough. But occasionally, one of them turns up at school with head lice. And the school health authorities regulate that as well. Elementary school nurses must notify the parents of each child assigned to the same classroom as the child with lice within 48 hours. The policy is based on the priority of keeping kids in class, as head lice do not spread disease and are not considered a serious health problem. It seems “don’t ask, don’t tell” is the Texas solution to COVID-19 in the classroom. But do notify other parents if your kid has lice – “which is not considered a serious public health problem” It all fits in with that famous Texas slogan, “Come and Take It”!


[i] And some convoluted theology of the an unmasked face is bound to come into play. One of disgraced fundagelical Bill Gothard’s favorite themes was how a True Christian’s face must be uncovered, with a radiant countenance, joy in their heart, and a beautiful smile that ministers in the lives of others. I really don’t have the energy to go down that rabbit hole.

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

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.