This is a guest post by Kristen J. Kristen J. is a frequent commentor at Feministe and a former member of several Evangelical churches located throughout the U.S.
Have you noticed a trend emerging from some of the more horrifying news reports recently?
• Evangelicals from the U.S. are promoting the “Kill the Gays” Bill in Uganda (HuffPo)
• Gay bullying initiated by Evangelical churches lead to a rash of suicides in Minnesota (Rolling Stone)
• An Evangelical Christian group sparked the controversy that lead to Komen defunding Planned Parenthood (NPR)
• Evangelical Christians (Christianity Today)
And that’s not including all of Rick Santorum’s recent rise recent rise (Rasmussen) in the GOP primary even after declaring declaring war on contraception (Time) and his views of women in the military (CBS).
At the root of these seemingly unconnected stories is a powerful and determined political institution that is doing more than merely slowing down the inevitable flow of progress. They are actually reversing the strides made by a range of anti-oppression movements including feminism.
While the existence of the Evangelical Movement is widely known and many of us here have suffered as a consequence of their actions, I don’t think the anti-oppression community at large has an understanding of what the movement is, how it functions, and what motivates the people involved. Most often it seems that the members of the Movement are written off as irrational or simply evil. Which isn’t particularly useful even if you believe that its true. Perhaps more importantly, because the Movement’s action are primarily grassroots and often at the national level the troubling calls to action are communicated via deeply ingrained dog whistles, I think progressive communities fail to see the Evangelical Movement as something that requires a coordinated response.
The goal of this post and the posts that follow is to give those of you who are not as familiar with the Evangelical Movement some additional information and hopefully to spark some thoughts on how we can work together to stop them from causing additional harm.
But before we go down that rabbit hole, a few notes:
1. This isn’t intended to be about Christianity in general or even a critique of Evangelical thought. I don’t care what people *believe*, I care about the harm their actions cause in the world. As a result I’d rather we avoid arguments about True Christians or God’s intentions.
2. I will use some clips from actual evangelical sermons and in each case will try to include all the appropriate trigger warnings; however, there is a lot of hate and rage in many of these sermons. It’s one thing to talk about such things in the abstract and something entirely different to hear it and listen to the thunderous applause of tens of thousands. Please exercise caution when listening to a clip. A transcript will always be below the clip.
3. My experience in the Evangelical Movement covers many years and many sects, but it is just *my* experience. Where possible I will use original sources to confirm my views. Still, my research and experiences filters through my biases. I make no claim to objectivity.
Next time I’ll cover the complex issue of how the Evangelical Movement defines itself and what I believe motivates those who are members of the Movement. But I wanted to leave some space here at the beginning to talk about where you see the influence of the Evangelical Movement in your community. I have listed a few above, but these are just the ones that have hit the mainstream news services. Does your town feature a Crisis Pregnancy Center? Are Evangelical Churches impacting how schools operate in your community? What are your experiences?