Three excellent articles in the Atlantic sum up the situation well:
- 2020 Sept 15: Green: The Evangelical Reckoning Begins
- 2021 Jan 8: Green: A Christian Insurrection
- 2021 Jan 28: Kinzinger: Betraying Your Church–And Your Party
This is a feature, not a bug. White American Fundamentalist Evangelicalism is at its core an anti-science, post-truth, anti-humanist, anti-democratic, misogynistic personality cult driven form of white supremacy. Trump’s presidency has brought all of that to the surface, but it has been stewing under the surface for generations.
This has largely been propped up by the historically uninformed, naive, and baseless myth that abortion is unbiblical, a claim that American Evangelical leaders didn’t start making seriously or rallying around until the rise of the Religious Right in the 1970s and 80s.
Abortion is in fact abiblical, that is, never mentioned once in the Bible. (By the way, if you want to think critically about how the Bible might speak to the issues around abortion, Jewish texts, leaders, and organizations are far better guides than white Evangelical pastors who are historically ignorant and functionally illiterate in Hebrew and make a regular habit of twisting the Bible to fit their political and financial agendas.)
What is truly unbiblical (contrary to myriads of examples in the Jewish and Christian scriptures) is treating the poor, the hungry, the naked, the prisoner, the sick, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, the asylum-seeker, and the sojourner with hatred and contempt.
White American Fundamentalist Evangelicalism has forgotten its Lord and his teachings. What did Jesus say was the Greatest Commandment? To love god and to love neighbor: to understand and to practice these twin commandments as integrated and inseparable.
There is no greater unbiblical than to hate your neighbor. And who is your neighbor? Might be a good time to reconsider the story of the Good Samaritan.
There is no greater idolatry than to hate your neighbor, who is the image of god. To hate people for who they are–their DNA, their ethnicity, their country of origin, their sexuality–is unbiblical. The way you treat your neighbor is the highest form and expression of your worship of god.
There is no greater falsehood than to justify hating your neighbor. To hate truth, spread lies, and repeat and enable conspiracy theories–especially at the expense of the most vulnerable in society–is unbiblical. And what is good science and conscientious, evidence-based journalism except the shared effort and commitment to be truthful about this amazing cosmos that we inhabit and our existence within it?
For people who want to keep an authentic Christian faith that lives the Great Commandment and loves truth, there is a way out.
Learn to love science. Learn to evaluate information critically. Learn how to apply historically- and scientifically-informed critical thinking to religion and the Bible. Learn to love other people, other cultures, and other religions. Stop enabling abusive and controlling personality cults that claim to be churches, but operate as independent businesses that extract far more than they contribute to the poor and the community. Extract yourself from them before they extract your critical thinking, resources, and empathy from you.
Let gifted scientists be your pastors, the shepherds of your mind. Stop listening to frauds like Franklin Graham and start listening to leaders like Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, leader of the Human Genome project, and a thoughtful Evangelical Christian.
Let passionate activists be your pastors, the shepherds of your walk. Stop letting rage- and fear-mongers keep you angry yet sedated, couch-laden consumers of toxicity. Instead, join and support and fund causes in your local communities that make a real difference in people’s lives, organizations that do good because it is the right thing to do, not as a means to an end of bigger conversion statistics for one’s particular Christian tribe.
Let diverse communities be your pastors, the shepherds of your soul. Join a Black Church, a Latinx Church, or a church dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of immigrants (e.g., Armenians, Syrians, Copts, Greeks, etc.). Join a church that welcomes the LGBTQ community.
Just this morning I heard the story of two couples, one gay and one lesbian, who cannot find a single church in Kentucky in which to hold their ceremony. In a just and compassionate world, churches would be clamoring over each other to celebrate and participate in such moments.
If god is love, then is god welcome in White American Fundamentalist Evangelicalism? By the look of it, the answer is no. Oh well. Their loss.