The Last Temptation: How Evangelicals lost their way

Discussion in 'West Mall' started by Seattle Husker, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. Seattle Husker

    Seattle Husker 10,000+ Posts

    In light of the salacious news that the National Enquirer paid a Trump doorman $30k to spike a story in which the doorman claims that Trump had a child with the housekeeper, this less salacious article came to mind.

    Michael Gerson, himself an Evangelical chronicles how the movement ended up putting it's support behind the least religious candidate in modern Presidential elections.
  2. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    I get this guy's point and agree with significant though not all parts of it, even though I identify as an evangelical Christian and attend a church that generally concurs with evangelical doctrine. And of course, I didn't vote for Trump. However, virtually everybody in my family and most people I know did and think I was wrong for not doing so.

    If they were critiquing this guy, they'd take issue with some of his characterizations of Trump as hyperbolic and partisan. (Whether he's a partisan himself, he's pretty much regurgitating the Democrats' talking points on Trump.) However, their biggest question would be, "what choice did we have?" They viewed the election through the "binary choice" lens. He doesn't have much of an answer for that.

    He also downplays or ignores a few pretty obvious and pretty major points. First, he largely ignores the impact the political Left has had on the issue. Both Hillary Clinton and Obama were outwardly hostile and condescending to religious conservatives. Well, if one side is nice to you, and the other side is an ******* to you, most people are going to go along with the side that's nice to them.

    Second, he underestimates the impact of the Supreme Court. A 5-4 liberal majority (which we'd have now if Hillary had won) is scary to religious conservatives, and it's a well-founded fear. Democratic justices effectively don't believe in the rule of the written law. They say they do, but they believe in an evolving meaning of the words according to "realities" of the modern world - as they see it. Well, that's tyrannical, because there's nothing restraining what the Court can do. If a constitutional provision that was primarily intended to keep southern states from summarily killing, imprisoning, and seizing the property of former slaves can be contorted to mean that states can't stop abortion or that we have to have gay marriage, then it's pretty clear to most sensible people that the Court is making this stuff up as it goes along. There isn't a guiding principle. Furthermore, when people who hold that view have controlled the Court, it has pretty much always worked against religious conservatives, and it has gradually expanded its scope over the years. At this point, the Court has pretty much taken over every hot button social issue. Where does that stop?

    Also, there's one thing he gets clearly wrong. He says the religious liberty priority is about the Obergfell decision that legalized gay marriage and a fear of coercion arising from it. It's not. In fact, the Court could have gone the other way, and it would have no bearing on the issue at all. The religious liberty issue is about state nondiscrimination statutes, some of which existed before the Obergfell decision and some in states that had even banned gay marriage.
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  3. Crockett

    Crockett 5,000+ Posts

    I think like a lot of words, the term Evangelical can lose meaning. If you are "Christian" Evangelical beliefs are part of the doctrine to which you ascribe.

    A lot of beliefs I ascribe to folks who typically self identify as Evangelical Christians... need for low taxes, support for capital punishment and the war on drugs ... are honestly held beliefs, but seem to me more cultural than scriptural.

    I probably would identify with northern evangelicals and the causes they supported, but maybe more from my humanity than my Godliness.
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  4. Run Pincher

    Run Pincher 1,000+ Posts

    He was elected to be president, not their pastor.
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  5. Htown77

    Htown77 5,000+ Posts

    “We need separation of church and state. We need to keep religion out of government.”

    “Oh no! Religious people are voting for someone who is not religious! What is wrong with them?!?!?”

    ^ Thoughts of the Left
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  6. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    RP, this is true. However, we've generally claimed that we expect the President to be a moral leader as well as a political leader. That has been true of the Right and the Left, though the Left's claimed moral priorities are very different. That doesn't mean we impeach and remove for immorality, but we have generally condemned it when discovered.
  7. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    I agree with this, but I think there are a few angles besides just culture. I think the support for low taxes is also an economic matter as well as a matter of association. The political leaders and donors who tend to be socially conservative (or at least claim to be) also favor low taxes. I think that's going to skew social conservatives to favor a low tax agenda more than they otherwise would or at least approach low taxes with less scrutiny than they otherwise might, because they associated it with those who agree with them on social policy.

    I think this goes the other way as well. Are all secular voters who vote Democratic really rabid believers in a big welfare state, onerous economic regulations, high taxes, and an open border? In a vacuum, many of them probably don't - at least not across the board. However, I think they are willing to rally around them to a point to support those who favor their social agenda. It doesn't motivate them to fight over those issues, though I do think there's a line at which the balance would tip for many.

    With capital punishment, I don't think social conservatives see it as a moral issue. I think they see it as a matter of justice. If you kill, then you deserve to die, and the public deserves to have you gone. There's no biblical reason not to do it. There's no constitutional reason not to do it. So why not do it?

    I think the war on drugs is largely cultural with a dash of public health. Conservatives don't want a drug culture, because it's lackadaisal and tends to be morally lax. A thriving society and culture doesn't consist of large numbers of people taking mind-altering drugs on a regular basis. Personaly, I agree with them. My opposition to the drug war is a matter of effectiveness and a lot bad unintended consequences, not support for drug use. But either way, this is cultural.
  8. ProdigalHorn

    ProdigalHorn 10,000+ Posts

    I do think some Christians have conflated certain political ideas with Biblical teachings, and in many cases, those principles do create a foundation for certain ideas, i.e. "if any will not work, neither let him eat." Others, i.e. gun ownership, are linked as much by people on the outside as people on the inside. I don't know a lot of Christians who would say that gun ownership is core to their values as Christians - and it's by no means a universally held position.
  9. Crockett

    Crockett 5,000+ Posts

    I'm Christian. I like the Food Stamp Program, defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I grew up talking politics with my parents and grandparents, Depression survivors and felt an awesome reverence for Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Social Security let my great grandparents live out their lives decently comfortable. The GI bill paved the way for my family's ascent into the middle class.

    I still know folks who are poor through causes other than laziness and believe in a government sponsored social safety net. Certainly regulators can be unreasonable, but I believe the government has a role in keeping our air and water decently clean ... and I know there are still businessmen who put profits ahead of safety and the public good.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
  10. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    And there's nothing inconsistent about that. You can be a devout Christian and support a social welfare system. That doesn't always make it smart policy. (For example, I think Social Security is horrendously bad policy.) However, one can support one. On the flip side though, I think you can oppose a social welfare system and be a devout Christian, so long as you support aiding the needy privately.
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  11. ProdigalHorn

    ProdigalHorn 10,000+ Posts

    Biblical Christianity (not secular or social or cultural Christianity) does not deal at all in what a government should do. It is focused on personal character, personal action, and personal accountability toward God. When you get outside the realm of worship to God (where specifics are outlined), there aren't many specific applications in terms of how those areas are supposed to impact your view on government or societal structure, other than the idea that "we ought to obey God rather than man" and the idea that we are to "submit yourselves to higher powers" which are considered to be from God.

    Our problems often come when we take the next step and say "because the Bible teaches me to XXXXX, and because I believe that XXXXX policy will have a specific effect, that means I must be for/against that policy, and anyone who is NOT for/against that policy is not truly following the Bible teachings on XXXXX."
    • Like Like x 1
  12. ShAArk92

    ShAArk92 1,000+ Posts

    I think we have too many Christians (sincere, Bible-Believing, Jesus Christ proclaiming, Born Again Believers) who have allowed our contemporary cultural influence to allow/promote (varying degree) of displacing God with Government; for provision, for protection ...and even for propriety.

    (no, I'm not a Preacher, but I do recognize the 3 point alliteration, thanks)

    Deez said it above ... be a private donor to charity (The Church) and oppose government confiscation/redistribution of wealth.

    The SS which allowed for Crockett's grandparents has become one of trans-generational theft. Someone paid for that retirement and it wasn't Crockett's grandparents.

    My grandfather didn't understand that Medicare is a tax. He had no idea the Fed was confiscating from my paycheck and he wasn't a fool, just not informed on this program by which he was benefitting (and never had to pay into).
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  13. ShAArk92

    ShAArk92 1,000+ Posts

    also ... I recommend a read of Cal Thomas' book about the 80's "Moral Majority" and Jerry Falwell. "Blinded by Might"

    Another example of misplaced, if not well intentioned, effort by Christians.
  14. Crockett

    Crockett 5,000+ Posts

    I don't see it as a binary choice. People in societies where the elderly are taken care of and allowed to end their years in dignity are happier, if not more economically efficient than ones where the "I got mine" prevails."
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
  15. ShAArk92

    ShAArk92 1,000+ Posts

    it's not about "I've got mine" it's about recognizing what's proper for a free society and what's not ... part of that includes taking care of our parents/grand parents ... not "contracting out" to the government.

    But we're in this lufberry of overtaxation and guarantee'd assisted living costs (incl healthcare/drugs) that the price is also so high it's an artificially high burden ... which makes concession to the government a relented act.

    Like a lot of folks, we struggle with this very thing.
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  16. Monahorns

    Monahorns 2,500+ Posts

    Social security is a drain on the younger, poorer generation. It started out a minor theft of the young, every recipient was supported by 5-10 young workers. Now that is around 2-3. For my generation that will be turn upside down. Much of that due to the fact that the birth rate continues to lag.
  17. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    Most people would not throw their parents into the street if they were having financial trouble. They would help. Some would not or could not, but creating Social Security to care for those people is like amputating your arm to treat a paper cut on your finger. They didn't have to permanently make the government the biggest player in the personal retirement system of the United States to care for the people who needed it. They definitely didn't have to build the program on the big charade that contributors to the program were putting money into a trust fund for them and that recipients were getting what they paid while working, which led to the phony justification of having a very regressive funding mechanism that clobbers the lower and middle classes. Instead, they could have instead set up a means tested program that could have been financed honestly through federal income taxes. It would have been a much cheaper program and wouldn't be ripping off the middle class the way the current program does.
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  18. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    I used to feel bad for young people on this, but they're such dolts that's its hard to sympathize with them. If you've marched in a gun control rally but haven't asked your congressman to reform Social Security and stop stealing your retirement, your priorities are a dumpster fire. Frankly, your judgment is so bad that I don't want you near a voting booth. Just get back on your coach and go back to playing video games.
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  19. Monahorns

    Monahorns 2,500+ Posts

    I agree generationally. But I am concerned for my kids and grandkids. The best thing to happen would be for it to collapse sooner than later so we can start building something better.
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  20. ShAArk92

    ShAArk92 1,000+ Posts

    means testing is coming.
    those who are able to earn more than ~ 75K in todays dollars ... will be culled from "benefits" on money confiscated over their work life.

    I'm fortunate to be in that group, to be sure ... but it's legalized theft. I'd rather have a law which requires me to pay for my grandparents' expenses (with my cousins)
  21. iatrogenic

    iatrogenic 1,000+ Posts

    Based on what evidence?
  22. ShAArk92

    ShAArk92 1,000+ Posts

    It's not hard to see that taking from some and giving to others doesn't benefit the "others." But I do agree if we didn't have these legalized thievery codified ... there'd probably be more tending to one's own affairs ... but more importantly ... there might even be a greater sensitivity to attending to elderly parents ... let alone ABILITY to attend to elderly parents.
  23. Crockett

    Crockett 5,000+ Posts

  24. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    I don't think means testing is coming. With a greater sense of entitlement and even greater stupidity as to how the program works, I think it's going to get hardre to means test the program, not easier. What I think we'll see instead is the earnings cap on FICA increased substantially and eventually eliminated. But of course, that only delays the inevitable. It doesn't fix the problem. The next step will be creating a second (higher) FICA bracket to suck even more money into the program.
  25. ShAArk92

    ShAArk92 1,000+ Posts

    yeah, you're probably right (really, not just the good hi sign! LOL)

    ... well except for "how the program (DOESN'T) work" ;)

    yeah, eliminating the cap is a point of diminishing return as fewer are ever able to reach the cap. The entire notion is simply to grow the Fed, nothing more. In the course, a few people get a few bucks less than they otherwise would have if they'd just put their 15% into a mattress.

    But anyhow.

    trying to become a political party in the Christian Evangelical (which all Christians are, but there are evangelicals of false narratives) ... is a fools errand. Not that Christians shouldn't be engaged, but seeking to put Holy on the Fallen just will not EVER work.
  26. ProdigalHorn

    ProdigalHorn 10,000+ Posts

    I firmly believe that one of the worst things ever to happen to Christianity was when Christians decided that it was a good idea to try and enlist the government on their side, or when Christians assumed government roles and started trying to use that position to support religious ideals. It has helped create a wildly secular version of discipleship, it has given secular culture a say in spiritual matters like marriage, and it has helped make it easy to transfer individual responsibility and morality onto the shoulders of government.
    • Like Like x 2
  27. Monahorns

    Monahorns 2,500+ Posts

    Prodigal, and that happened at the beginning of the 20th century as a part of the Progressive movement. There were religious Progressives who thought the State would bring about Jesus' millennial rule on earth.
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  28. ProdigalHorn

    ProdigalHorn 10,000+ Posts

    Pattern's starting to emerge, isn't it? "God needs government to do His work." "God needs government to step in and fulfill prophecies." "God can't come back and fulfill His purpose unless we set the table for him."
    • Like Like x 1
  29. Monahorns

    Monahorns 2,500+ Posts

    It is what Paul warned of in 2 Timothy. In the last days men will hold to a form of godliness but deny its power.
    • Like Like x 1
  30. Crockett

    Crockett 5,000+ Posts

    Yeah ... as I read history that is not a particularly recent development.
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