The Evangelical Christian Movement: An Introduction

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?

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105 Responses

  1. Lauren
    Lauren February 28, 2012 at 9:31 am |

    The growing power of the Evangelical movement is very ominous; I’m really looking forward to reading your analysis and stories. One quick clarifying thing, though: Rick Santorum is Catholic, not Evangelical. Obviously he is very popular with Evangelical Christians because many of his beliefs line up with theirs, but he himself is not one of them.

  2. Taliesin_Merlin
    Taliesin_Merlin February 28, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    Where I live in Georgia, I see the effects of the evangelical movement in a few areas:

    1. What’s a crisis pregnancy center? One of these popped up in a downtown. On a billboard outside another one, they advertise a “pregnancy center.” The difference? The former is run by these people (http://abeaconofhope.com/) and the latter is run by Planned Parenthood.

    It’s mad. How do I tell the difference between a group that will give me many reproductive options and a group specifically geared to convince people to not have an abortion?

    2. Actual evangelism. Kind women stand outside the train station every morning, handing out pamphlets. I have no inclination towards their religion, but they are polite, never casting judgment with signs or glares. I make sure to say good morning to them.

    3. Not standing out. Rather, they expect others to not stand out. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender? Hell, alternative? While there are spaces for that sort of thing, I’ve witnessed people harassed for it.

    As you say,it’s difficult to perceive the connections between these three influences. I undoubtedly miss a lot. I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

  3. Shannon
    Shannon February 28, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    I’m really excited about this series!

    I know you said “not including Santorum…” when you were talking about Evangelicals, but I do think it is important to note that Santorum is Catholic, and Catholics haven’t traditionally been part of the Evangelical Movement. The fact that he has so much support from Evangelicals is really interesting and definitely represents a change in American religion and politics. It also represents a “new Catholicism” which is much more closely tied to the Evangelical movement and technically conflicts with Catholic theology (for example, Santorum’s position on immigration and war aren’t Catholic in that they contradict traditional Catholic social teaching and theology).

    I note the distinction only because I grew up Catholic in the middle of Texas, in a town that was largely Evangelical. And the anti-Catholic hate was ridiculous. When I went to church with friends, the entire church would pray for my “lost Catholic soul.” When I tried out for cheerleading, I was told I shouldn’t because they prayed before games and “I wasn’t a Christian.” When 9/11 happened, tons of people decided to take it upon themselves to “show me Jesus” and someone in my Government class actually thought Kennedy got shot because he was Catholic, and everyone knows God hates Catholics! There was also a host of strange things, like some Evangelicals breaking into the Catholic Church and destroying the statue of Mary because it was an “idol.”

    All this is to say, Evangelicals have a tense relationship with the Catholic Church. And while that relationship is quickly changing, they aren’t necessarily synonymous. At least not yet.

  4. K
    K February 28, 2012 at 10:02 am |

    I am really looking forward to this series. I do have a concern about the language, though. For people who aren’t familiar with the delineations among various Christian sects, I am concerned that framing this series as about “Evangelicals” is too broad, because it includes for example the ECLA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) do not share the attributes that it sounds like you are going to address. I’m not ECLA but last I checked a significant minority (approaching 40%) and steadily increasing proportion of ECLA ministers are quite happy to perform same sex marriages or blessings (where the governing body has not yet approved marriage equality), and where I live, in Minnesota, the ECLA has approved an anti-marriage-equality constitiutional amendment (I think I worded that badly — they voted, and they’re against the bigoted amendment).

    I think of the culture that you are describing as fundamentalist Christian, or Dominionist/Christianist, depending on the context and whether we are talking more about theology or politics.

    Like I said, I am really looking forward to the series, but I don’t assume that Feministe readers know a lot about the myriad Christian denominations or the terminology that is frequently common to politically conservative churches and to strong allies of progressive politics alike, and I would hate those readers to misunderstand.

  5. Shoshie
    Shoshie February 28, 2012 at 10:11 am |

    All this is to say, Evangelicals have a tense relationship with the Catholic Church. And while that relationship is quickly changing, they aren’t necessarily synonymous. At least not yet.

    I find this perspective really interesting, because I’ve seen something similar from the Jewish side. I feel like the Jewish community I grew up in was incredibly skeptical of the Evangelical Movement and Christian groups in general. There was a huge focus on separation of church and state. But, partially due to Israel politics but DEFINITELY not exclusively, it seems like more and more conservative Jewish groups are allying themselves with Evangelical groups. My mother actually teaches a class about it, and basically why Jews should be really hesitant to lock step with Christian political groups. It’s depressing and also kind of terrifying.

    Anyways, I’m really happy to see you guest blogging here, Kristen J, and I’m really looking forward to your posts.

  6. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 28, 2012 at 10:19 am |

    @Shannon,

    Re: Santorum

    I know! Isn’t that strange? I grew up similar anti-Catholic communities and to see the people who bashed the memory of JFK as a heretical anti-christ embrace Newt and Santorum just makes me want to laugh hysterically…or possibly throw up…whichever.

    @K,

    I’ll get into that a bit later, but to be clear Evangelical Movement is something I see as not precisely coterminous with “Evangelical Christian”. There’s a political/social movement that is a bit more fluid in its definitions and that often aligns with various other Christian sects. But you’re absolutely right there are Evangelical Christians that are more progressive. There’s even a green Evangelical sect!

  7. Servalbear
    Servalbear February 28, 2012 at 10:35 am |

    I am really looking forward to your series. I am a clinic escort in Louisville, KY and we deal with evangelists/fundamentalists daily. These include an active group of fundamentalist Catholics calling themselves Catholics in Action. While this may not be common for Catholics, it does exist. We also have tremendous support from churches and synagogues in our area. We are very aware these beliefs are not common with all Christians or other religions. There seems to be such a powerful, vocal, political group who are influencing legislation locally, within the state and nationally. I want to learn more about them from in your series. What particularly interests me in your series is “how we can work together to stop them from causing additional harm.”

    We see some of that harm daily when we escort. There is a CPC center beside the abortion clinic and another one within one block. We write about our interactions with the CPC and protesters every week on our blog. We have no bubble laws to protect the clients and it seems each week brings another restrictive bill being proposed in the state legislature.

    Thank you for starting this series.

  8. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat February 28, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    K is right, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is (mostly) a pretty chill and progressive bunch. The irony of the denominational name is particularly amusing/sad here in Georgia, where any ELCA congregation is guaranteed to be surrounded by conversion-centered denominations.

    Given where I live and the experiences I’ve had with rabid evangelicals, I’m REALLY looking forward to this series.

  9. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |

    Ha! Modded on my own post…there is a response coming I promise!

  10. K
    K February 28, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    Yep, I’m fairly sure there is a merit badge for that.

    And I do recognize that “evangelical” is the term most commonly thrown around in the media to discuss this segment of voters/activists, so in that sense, yes, I understand why you would use it if you wanted readers here to immediately think, ah yes, I know who she is talking about. The usage of “Evangelical” = fundamentalist/Dominionist usage goes back at least to the mid-90s, when “evangelical” was the name that got attached to the folks who voted the Republican congressional takeover, but I thought it was pretty lazy then and I am surprised (but maybe not really surprised) that it has never really been effectively replaced by a more accurate descriptor.

  11. Athenia
    Athenia February 28, 2012 at 11:58 am |

    My mom actually volunteers at a pregnancy crisis center (so labeled by the watchdog groups). That’s like a whole blog post in itself. *sigh*

  12. suspect class
    suspect class February 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm |

    Kristen J.! I’m very excited to see you posting a series here, and looking forward to reading more!

    I’m living in Portland these days, and I’ve been on the lookout for crisis pregnancy centers. I’ve noticed two so far; one of course is right up the street from Planned Parenthood.

  13. William
    William February 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm |

    Looking forward to the series! Not so much looking forward to the inevitable tide of Christians screaming oppression and demanding pats on the head and cookies.

  14. Brennan
    Brennan February 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm |

    Several other commentors have aluded to the growth of an unholy alliance between the most conservative sects of several denominations. This was my experience growing up. My town had one abortion clinic which was regularly picketed by a mix of Catholic and “born again” Christians. We also had a “crisis pregnancy center,” and one of the most vocal spokespeople for that was a woman who was Eastern Orthodox. Planned Parenthood wasn’t allowed to speak to our high school health class, but this woman was invited to give a talk and distribute pamphlets. I worry about what will happen if these groups ever get over their doctrinal bickering enough to organize on a wide scale; they already seem to have idealogical synergy on some of the most troubling issues.

  15. Rachel
    Rachel February 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

    The Evangelical Movement is certainly alive and well in my small town, a mostly-red suburb of Philadelphia.

    Most notable was the book banning that took place at the district high school; though the action to ban Revolutionary Voices (and other titles that were on the GLSEN recommended reading list). Interestingly, many of those who supported the banning of the book were quick to disassociate the action as being sponsored by The 9/12 Project, but the “face” of this action (Beverly Marinelli, a name you can easily find in articles about the incident) is a big part of The 9/12 Project.

    Anecdotally, I spoke to a media specialist in the district who had some significant knowledge of the banning, and she was pretty convinced that the evangelical movement played a big role here.

    And I have no less than 4 crisis pregnancy centers within a 15-minute drive from my home.

  16. piny
    piny February 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    I think the holy alliance will probably get a lot stronger during the election season. It’s a throwdown between the heretic cult leader and the minion of the Roman antichrist, so, either way, conservative evangelical voters have some toleratin’ to do.

  17. from two to one
    from two to one February 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

    A good comparison could be to analyze the differences in ideology, teaching, credentials, and reputation of traditionally evangelical schools in areas that are not commonly seen as the Bible belt. For instance, in the Chicagoland area, Catholic schools and evangelical Christian schools have vast differences in how they are perceived and the types of educations that the students are getting.

  18. chava
    chava February 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    Dude! William and Kristin in a week? What did we do right??

    Looking forward to the series; curious about the Evangelical movement, about which I know very little. I’m not even sure what Protestant strain(s) they’re building on, although the movement itself has always reminded me of the Great Awakening.

  19. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm |

    @chava,

    Evangelicals are actually the product of the Great Awakening(s) so your intuition is dead on there. The history of the movement is fascinating from a purely sociological perspective because it seems to ebb and flow in response to social changes. Thomas Kidd has a great book called the Great Awakening which you might find interesting. There is an ebook version that is relatively inexpensive.

  20. sprout
    sprout February 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

    I just want to second K’s (and others’) comments about the ELCA. I grew up in the ELCA (in Minnesota), and while I no longer identify as Christian at all, my parents are still highly involved in their ELCA church. I know they get really annoyed when the word “evangelical” is thrown around as a substitute for “fundamentalist,” particularly because they “converted” from my dad’s family’s much more fundamentalist Lutheran sect (Wisconsin synod, where women still don’t get to vote…) when I was a kid. The ELCA, on the other hand, has long had women in powerful positions in the church and has recently made it officially ok for pastors to be openly gay and to acknowledge gay marriages.

    Anyway, I guess my point is that it would be nice if we (as a society) could use a term other than “evangelical” when we actually mean “fundamentalist” because those who don’t know better end up attributing qualities to ELCA folks (and probably other groups too) that don’t really fit. Either that, or the ELCA could just change its name, which might be easier…

    I’m looking forward to your posts!

  21. Rebecca
    Rebecca February 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm |

    I’ve been a long time reader of this site, but don’t comment, but I had to make an exception for this post. This is a topic very near and dear to my heart, as I too have grown up in evangelical/holiness movement churches and schools.

    Will you be covering the “fundamentalist” camps, such as the IFB, as well? I suppose most fundamentalists don’t like being grouped in with the “liberal” in their mind evangelicals. Jack Hyles clips really will make your skin crawl.

  22. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

    I do have a concern about the language, though. For people who aren’t familiar with the delineations among various Christian sects, I am concerned that framing this series as about “Evangelicals” is too broad, because it includes for example the ECLA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

    Well, it’s true that religious jargon is notoriously confusing and hard to understand. Words like “orthodox,” for example, can mean about ten different mutually contradictory things depending on who is using them and how. But, in any event, the word “evangelical” in the title of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the word “evangelical” in the phrase “Evangelical Christians” is being used in two different ways to refer to two different (albeit vaguely related) things. Most people in the ECLA are not Evangelical Christians in the usual sense of the term.

    The word “evangelical” in the title of the ECLA refers to the Lutheran concept of “Evangelical Catholicity,” which has a long, boring history that isn’t worth getting into. But, in any event, it’s a very different connotation than the more common usage of the word “evangelical” as referring to “Evangelicals” or “Evangelical Christians.” Evangelical Christians are basically people who are “born again,” view the Bible as an inerrant, ultimate authority, and believe they have a moral obligation to actively spread the Gospel. Most people in the ECLA don’t fall under this ideology, and as you implied the church is largely theologically modernist. Ironically, there’s actually more Evangelical Christians in the more conservative and slightly smaller Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod than in the ECLA.

    Wow can’t believe I actually typed all that. Hopefully someone found it interesting.

  23. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm |

    @Rebecca,

    I’m so glad you commented! I hope you’ll feel comfortable talking about your experience. I’ll definitely be talking about the youth movements. Did you ever attend Living Waters or the other camps? (Those camps still freak me the hell out.)

    @LotusBen,

    Bah!!! Stop stealing my material for the next post!! :P

  24. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm |

    Omg sorry Kristen!!! I am really looking forward to your series though. Should be fascinating.

  25. LG
    LG February 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm |

    I was raised Catholic, and was a practicing Catholic for many years until my fundamental disagreements with the church over issues of gender equality, gay rights, birth control, etc. grew so many and so strong that I did not want to associate with the Catholic church anymore. From my personal experience, I do not see much chance of Catholics joining up with Evangelical Christians in a socio-political sense. I think we need to separate what the Catholic Church says from what actual Catholics think and do.

    While many official Catholic doctrines (such as those about abortion, birth control, and gay people) align with the beliefs of Evangelicals, I think there are many Catholics who either actively or passively reject those teachings and choose not to follow them. (This happens in every religion/sect to some extent, but I think this phenomenon is especially pronounced in Catholicism). Many Catholics practice their religion much more privately and do not feel compelled to share their beliefs with others or try to convert people. A lot of Catholics that I know are ambivalent at best about some of the Church’s more controversial doctrines. Most Evangelicals that I have met and had experience with are very passionate about their religion and consequently very active in trying to spread their beliefs in a way that most Catholics do not feel compelled to do.

    I’m really looking forward to this series!

  26. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable February 28, 2012 at 10:19 pm |

    Dude! William and Kristin in a week? What did we do right??

    This.

  27. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh February 28, 2012 at 10:35 pm |

    Yay Kristen!

    I’m excited about this and look forward to reading and commenting on the series. :)

    I’m a survivor of Word of Faith teachings, and I attended a Word of Faith church for about 7 years. Not a good idea if you have a psychiatric disability. Not a good idea if you are bisexual. And so and so forth.

  28. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

    Great points LG. According to almost all the opinion polls I’ve looked at, Catholics nowadays mirror the overall American population in their stances on controversial social and moral issues. And sometimes Catholics are even slightly more socially liberal than the overall American population. So the Catholic hierarchy is just out of step with their flock in the U.S on things like gay rights, abortion, and definitely birth control.

  29. Alexandra
    Alexandra February 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

    Something which I think is really important to note about American evangelical Christianity historically is the extent to which its adherents have attempted to wed their theology to social change, for good or for ill.

    19th and early 20th century progressivism, for instance, was inseparable with evangelical Christianty. I’m sure everyone here is familiar with the connection between women’s suffrage and abolitionism; but it’s important to note that the early suffragists and abolitionists were almost universally evangelical Christians, seeking to improve civil society through principles they believed came from God. John Brown was an evangelical Christian; so was Harriet Beecher Stowe.

    While evangelical Christianity has become substantially less progressive over time, its commitment to social change has hardly abated.

  30. abracadabra
    abracadabra February 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm |

    Sounds like a great series.

    I live a few block from Planned Parenthood and pass it daily. For the last several months the local crisis pregnancy organization has parked an RV across the street for STD screening and “Pregnancy Options” counseling. I think it is pretty clear what it is for — at least I hope no one would go to an RV for abortion services. I honestly can’t imagine it accomplishes anything – there is limited parking aside from Planned Parenthood’s lot and it isn’t a easy street to cross.

    I do have to say it is an improvement over the delivery truck plastered with posters of aborted fetuses they had parked there. That was a fun one to explain to my 5 year old.

    I also grew up Catholic in a heavily evangelical/fundamentalist area. This was the late 1990s and there wasn’t a whole lot of space between the school and the handful of larger Baptist and nondenominational churches. Those pastors prayed from the announcer’s booth before football and basketball games, spoke at graduation, and led in-school memorial assemblies for students who had died — even for the student who was Catholic. Oh, and the only teacher to mention evolution, taught it was a myth.

  31. Esteleth
    Esteleth February 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

    Shoshie:

    I find this perspective really interesting, because I’ve seen something similar from the Jewish side. I feel like the Jewish community I grew up in was incredibly skeptical of the Evangelical Movement and Christian groups in general. There was a huge focus on separation of church and state. But, partially due to Israel politics but DEFINITELY not exclusively, it seems like more and more conservative Jewish groups are allying themselves with Evangelical groups. My mother actually teaches a class about it, and basically why Jews should be really hesitant to lock step with Christian political groups. It’s depressing and also kind of terrifying.

    Your mother is right to be concerned. Many Evangelicals who are pro-Israel are so because they are seeking to hasten the Second Coming, i.e. the End of the World As We Know It™. In this theology, what happens to Jewish people is pretty explicitly spelled out: some non-trivial fraction convert to Christianity. The rest die, along with everyone else in the world who is not Christian. The righteous Christians throughout history are resurrected and live with Jesus in glory while everyone else suffers in Hell. So yeah. The Evangelicals support Israel because it is a means to their goal, which (among other things) features the total destruction of Judaism.

  32. Yonah
    Yonah February 29, 2012 at 12:37 am |

    Esteleth: I know, right? Here in Jerusalem, while right-wingers are happy to accept the United States’ and Evangelicals’ “support,” everyone still manages to be skeptical and disturbed about their motives — except for immigrants from America, who spout the same sort of nonsense Shoshie mentions, and some of whom I have even heard advocate for a Christian state in America, since they think it is the only thing to keep them safe from antisemitic attacks. It is impossible to argue with people like that, since they are so driven by fear, and cannot give up the totally bizarre beliefs (“Christians love and will protect us, as they always have!”) that keep them feeling safe.

    I wonder what the difference is between American Jews and Israelis (plus I think other non-American Jews as well) that has the former swallowing the most outrageous views about Evangelicals and Christians in general.

  33. EG
    EG February 29, 2012 at 12:55 am |

    I wonder what the difference is between American Jews and Israelis (plus I think other non-American Jews as well) that has the former swallowing the most outrageous views about Evangelicals and Christians in general.

    Just want to raise a flag here for American Jews who Do Not Trust Those People.

    What disturbs me is that they stand against every single quality I was ever taught to value as a Jew–education, radicalism, social justice.

  34. Hannah
    Hannah February 29, 2012 at 1:14 am |

    I’m at college in Richmond, VA , and it seems that whenever there’s nice weather there’s evangelical Christians trolling our campus . There’s several guys who will come and stand in the center of campus, “preaching” (ie, screaming) at students about how sinful they are; there’s a group that I’ve seen standing around with gory “pro-life” signs; and then there’s a lot of bible or pamphlet-givers, Mormons etc. Mostly they are either stupidly angry or really harmless. I do remember one instance I found really disturbing was a group that was there, having their children distribute anti-choice literature to students.

    Anyways, it’s pretty inescapable.

  35. Worthwhile Reads: Santorum, environmentalism, and more | Love … | The Environmentalism.org

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  36. Rebecca
    Rebecca February 29, 2012 at 1:40 am |

    @Rebecca,

    I’m so glad you commented! I hope you’ll feel comfortable talking about your experience. I’ll definitely be talking about the youth movements. Did you ever attend Living Waters or the other camps? (Those camps still freak me the hell out.)

    ( Not sure if I used the quote feature correctly)

    I never attended any of those camps, I have much more background in the Christian school aspect of evangelicalism. However, I am very interested in particular aspects of the fundamentalist/evangelical movement, specifically scandals that have affected fundamentalist colleges, the horrors of places like Hephzibah house, Michael and Debi Pearl’s disgusting writings, and other terrible things that seem to fly under the radar all too often.

    I look forward to reading your posts on this.

  37. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 29, 2012 at 2:06 am |

    What disturbs me is that they stand against every single quality I was ever taught to value as a Jew–education, radicalism, social justice.

    EG, your observation that Evangelicals stand against education reminds me of something I was thinking of typing here earlier tonight, and now I have the time, so, yeah. Here in Texas we have the ultra-conservative Texas State Board of Education that determines what curiculum is taught in all public schools. It is dominated by a block of hard-right Evangelical Republicans who have a narrow majority over the Democrats and “moderate” Republicans combined. They are elected officials and generally are not professional educators or have any sort of expertise in the subjects the schools are actually teaching. All the same, they take it upon themselves to re-write textbooks in science, history, economics, and other topics. Of course, they are always trying to get in stuff that casts doubt on evolution and implies there might be an intelligent designer, that’s not really news.

    Their standards in economics and history, though, I think are particularly ludicrous. They went through all economics textbooks and replaced every use of the word “capitalism” with “free enterprise system” because they thought it sounded better. In a history textbook, there was a list of thinkers whose ideas helped inspire the American and French Revolutions. The Evangelicals took Thomas Jefferson off the list and added Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. (First–what?!?! Second, you are pretty reactionary if you can’t even handle Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, being in a textbook.)

    So, yeah, good point. These people are against education.

  38. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 29, 2012 at 2:28 am |

    OK, in my zeal to make my point about how shitty the Texas State Board of Education is; I got a bit carried away on one count. I said most of them aren’t professional educators. Actually, most of them do have a background as professional educators. But they are still overwhelmingly not experts in the fields in which they are choosing to rewrite textbooks.

  39. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated February 29, 2012 at 8:33 am |

    @Hannah-The stumpknockers always manage to avoid any verses about praying in secret, meekness, etc when they begin squalling in public. Quoting those verses to their audience, though, reduces fundie cred.
    Kristen, I’m really looking forward to your research.

  40. Jen in Ohio
    Jen in Ohio February 29, 2012 at 9:07 am |

    talk about where you see the influence of the Evangelical Movement in your community

    I presently live in a red part of Ohio (not too far away from where Zeus apparently took out some of his stress upon Touchdown Jesus), so I am pretty much surrounded by these people at pretty much all times. The creepiest thing to me is how nice they are in public. So nice! So polite! So seemingly tolerant! Then they get you alone…don’t ever let them get you alone. Santorum is now polling ahead of Romney here by double digits.

    I’m chronically ill, disabled, and queer, so this movement has the most negative tangible impact on me most frequently in those contexts. For example, I have made it a habit to come out to all my doctors as queer during the first appointment because I don’t fuck around, I need to know if my doctor is an asshole right away. I had to get a new GP last year and I told her during the initial exam/history that one of the conditions I have is PTSD, partially attributable to having suffered a considerable amount of abuse at the hands of homophobes in positions of authority, including doctors and my parents. After providing her with this information, I asked her for a referral to a therapist. (For the past year my PTSD symptoms have been, like, on a fucking bender or something. I don’t know wtf is going sideways on me, but whatever it is, it’s bad.) She gave me a business card, I went home and googled the firm, and I discovered only two links on their front page: one to Focus on the Family and the second to a local clone org.

    It took me MONTHS to calm down enough to return to her office and explain to her that FotF is an anti-gay hate organization. She claimed to have no idea and the look on her face was convincing enough that I haven’t decided to fire her over it. She said that her patients come in and gush over their therapists and give her these cards to give out to her other patients. I told her directly, “Never, ever give that card to another gay person.” “You should have told me sooner!” she said. “I couldn’t,” I told her, “Because I didn’t know if you’d done this to me on purpose. I had to calm down first so I didn’t accuse you of it unfairly. If I had gone to these people, they would have tried to ‘cure my homosexuality’, not help with my PTSD. They’d have told me that my PTSD was a direct result of my being homosexual.” “Oh my god,” she said. “Um, yeah, that would be the exact reason they’d use to justify their behavior.”

    Meanwhile, I had gone out and found myself a gay therapist just so I could make appointments without having panic attacks but it turned out to be a bad match so I’m still in need of help I’m not sure is even available within 50 miles of my home. But churches? Oh fuck yeah, there are plenty of churches. Google maps alone turns up ten churches within a single mile of my home, all of them some flavor/variety of Christian, and I know of a few more that didn’t make it onto the map.

    This is also a heavily Catholic area, and while they are compassionate enough to vote to preserve social services funding and against union-busting bills, they are also conservative enough to vote for hateful anti-gay amendments to the State constitution. My father’s entire family is Catholic, and while they don’t live around here, they’re some of the most vile, hateful, hypocritical people I have ever run across.

    These liberal Catholics that people are talking about, I have only ever met one of those in the flesh, but he seemed like a great guy. He was a priest, actually, whom I met back in the 80s when he did some kind of Catholic funeral service thingamabob (obviously I did not grow up with my father’s family or else I’d know what it was called) for one of my friends who’d died in the AIDS crisis and who had never been able to resolve his anger and pain at being tossed out of his religious community for being gay. After the service, the priest and I went outside and he bummed a smoke off me, and we talked a little while. I suspected he was gay, but it would’ve been rude/sketchy to ask, and since I liked him and appreciated that he had done this thing my friend had wanted, I didn’t want to offend him/put him at any risk.

  41. ScottInOH
    ScottInOH February 29, 2012 at 10:24 am |

    Kristen J.:

    I came over here from Libby Anne’s place (“Love, Joy, Feminism”), and I’m looking forward to your series.

    Like others, I’ve been surprised at how the Catholic Santorum has appeared to gel with conservative Protestant voters or, more generally, how conservative Catholics and conservative Protestants have become such apparent allies in the fairly recent past. Charles Pierce’s take is here. (No idea if I just used the html tags right (I don’t see a “preview” function). If not, you can google “where the church of Rick Santorum came from” if you’re interested.)

    For Pierce, the marriage is between the evangelical movement that got increasingly organized after the 1970s and the anti-Vatican II movement that has gained traction among Catholics in the past couple of decades. I’m very interested to hear your insights!

  42. from two to one
    from two to one February 29, 2012 at 10:26 am |

    As someone who grew up Catholic but also attended evangelical Bible camps during my high school years and later as a counselor, I’d be happy to share any insights I have about conservative evangelical (not necessarily fundamentalist) Christians.

    For instance, the girls all signed a virginity pledge one year. I was fourteen years old. We also began writing letters to our future husbands and children, talking about what sexual purity looks like, and how to prepare to be a good wife and mother. Needless to say, the boys did not talk about these issues in the same light that the girls did. All in all, there was nothing sinister about what we were being taught, just that it was a lot of misinformation and simplification about really complex issues — marriage, life, faith, children, sex, etc. Oh, and we heard “modest is hottest” about 5 times per minute.

  43. Ladeeda
    Ladeeda February 29, 2012 at 11:00 am |

    19th and early 20th century progressivism, for instance, was inseparable with evangelical Christianty.

    I think it’s equally important to note, though, that secular routes to progressivism were (and continue to be) often blocked. While I am sure that a great many progressives did indeed feel a spiritual calling to support suffrage and abolition, I am sure than many also hitched onto evangelical Christianity in these efforts because theirs was a message people were more prepared to hear. Getting a secular word in edgewise has historically been very, very difficult in this country, at least in positions of power.

  44. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |

    lol @Annaleigh

    I’m a survivor of Word of Faith teachings

    Also, I second Servalbear’s comment:

    What particularly interests me in your series is “how we can work together to stop them from causing additional harm.”

    @Kristen #6 and sprout #20—I’m also looking forward to learning more about nuances and differentiation. I admit, especially since the advent of the Republican primaries, I’ve guiltily noticed myself jumping on the bandwagon of “divide and conquer” bigotry with regard to “Conservative Christianity”… damn it, I don’t want to stoop that low. Or… be that sloppy. A swift stake through the heart is more like it… not a massacre. (*Just a little morbid, if not tasteless, figurative language, don’t worry)

    @from two to one:

    evangelical Bible camps during my high school years… For instance, the girls all signed a virginity pledge one year.

    heh heh, one (futile) moment of personal triumph was participating in a virginity pledge at a camp when I was 16… and wasn’t actually a virgin! They actually ended up breaking me by the end (seriously, it was creepy: my camp counselor started singling me out and taking me on secluded bike rides, drilling me about my faith and whether I was saved). We endured hours upon hours of preaching a day. The last night there, they broke me… I wept wildly (out of utter mortal terror) and confessed my sins and practically crawled on my hands and knees to “get saved”… The next day, on the bus ride home, I brooded and (silently) renounced the whole messy, disturbing scene! And I smirked like a fool about “pulling a fast one over them” with the virginity pledge. (I felt awfully clever about that at 16)

  45. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 11:06 am |

    Also, this doesn’t add anything to the conversation, but between reading about the pregnancy centers and typing the word “saved,” it’s reminding me how much I love the movie Saved!

  46. Worthwhile Reads: Santorum, environmentalism, and more | Love Joy Feminism

    [...] Feministe is beginning a series on Evangelical Christianity, and I am keenly interested to read their take. Read the introduction here. [...]

  47. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 11:31 am |

    Jen,

    Meanwhile, I had gone out and found myself a gay therapist just so I could make appointments without having panic attacks but it turned out to be a bad match so I’m still in need of help I’m not sure is even available within 50 miles of my home. But churches? Oh fuck yeah, there are plenty of churches. Google maps alone turns up ten churches within a single mile of my home, all of them some flavor/variety of Christian, and I know of a few more that didn’t make it onto the map.

    Wowww… what a distressing story. I hope you’re able to cross paths soon with someone who can help in all the right ways.

  48. Donna L
    Donna L February 29, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    Just want to raise a flag here for American Jews who Do Not Trust Those People.

    What disturbs me is that they stand against every single quality I was ever taught to value as a Jew–education, radicalism, social justice.

    Thank you. Nobody should forget that despite all the publicity that right-wing (usually Orthodox) USA Jews receive for getting in bed with Christian fundamentalists (and have been getting since the days of Richard Nixon), the overwhelming majority of Jewish people in this country consistently identifies as liberal/progressive — with very little correlation between economic status and political identity, unlike most other ethnic groups except for African-Americans — and consistently votes against Republican candidates, etc., etc.

    I grew up in New York City, surrounded by other Jews, and have never known a single one who didn’t react to Christian fundamentalists the way other people react to vampires. Keep in mind that I barely ever knew any white Protestants of any kind, except for a handful of Upper East Side Episcopalians: most of the people I went to school with were Jewish or Roman Catholic, to the best of my knowledge; if the African-American kids were Protestants I doubt they were fundamentalists.

  49. Donna L
    Donna L February 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

    19th and early 20th century progressivism, for instance, was inseparable with evangelical Christianity.

    I don’t know enough about the abolitionist movement to comment about that aspect specifically, but at least in my part of the US, and at least later in the 19th century and early in the 20th century, I think progressivism was a great deal broader than that. I seem to recall an awful lot of progressive Jews and Roman Catholics and Quakers and Unitarians and non-religious socialists. Especially if you count the labor movement as part of progressivism. And in terms of the Progressives themselves, was Robert LaFollette Sr. identified with evangelical Christianity?

  50. Jen in Ohio
    Jen in Ohio February 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm |

    Cécile, thank you so much for your compassion and good wishes.

  51. IrishUp
    IrishUp February 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    Really looking forward to this series and enjoying these posts!

    @ScottInOH; Great link, thanks! Pope Prada (aka Benedict XVI) is virulently anti-Vatican II*. If the USian Evangelical Christian Movement seems bent on going back to 1850, one gets the feeling *he’d* like to go back to the Halcyon Days of the RCC ca 1450!

    The common ground appears to be intensive oppostion to BC, women’s rights, and inclusivity, the flip-side of which is of course heavy investment in the white/het/cis kyriarchy. Each is looking for political power and control, and these issues are their means.

    They will never make happy bedfellows (har!) in the long run though; the RCC via Benedict has doubled-down on it’s position as the Only True Church of Christ, and the ECM at it’s heart barely considers Roman Catholiscm as a Christian denomination (I have Southern Baptist relatives who say things like “Papist idolatry” and “mackerel snappers” FOR REALZ). And of course, the system in which each is so embedded, only allows for One True way.

    Neither will ever *really* consider the other equals. At best, there will eventually be a rift similar to what we see now developing in the US Republican party, where the schism between the “Tea Partiers” and the economically conservative base of the GOP is widening as each’s *true* agenda collides more often with their ideological differences. The question is, how much damage can they do in the meantime?

    (* This is a very nice orientation peice with links for any who are interested: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/may/20/pope-benedict-vatican-council )

  52. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve February 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |

    I grew up in New York City, surrounded by other Jews, and have never known a single one who didn’t react to Christian fundamentalists the way other people react to vampires. Keep in mind that I barely ever knew any white Protestants of any kind, except for a handful of Upper East Side Episcopalians: most of the people I went to school with were Jewish or Roman Catholic, to the best of my knowledge; if the African-American kids were Protestants I doubt they were fundamentalists.

    I grew up in New York City (in the 70′s) and I remember there being plenty of Christian fundamentalists proselytizing on the streets and especially in Washington Square Park. In fact, were Hare Krishnas and Orthodox Jews proselytizing as well. I remember when I was like 14 years old, this guy in Hasidic dress ignored everyone in front of me, but when I walked by, he asked me ‘are you Jewish?’ I said back to him ‘What’s it to you?’ It really bothered me that someone could look at me and tell I was of Jewish heritage, and then from that make an assumption about my private belief system. I think that was another example of right wing Jews becoming more and more like fundamentalist Christians, as proselytizing is not something I associate with Judaism. (Although I think this guy technically was not trying to convert non-Jews, so proselytizing is perhaps the wrong word)

  53. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

    (An aside to Jen—hope nobody minds, and not to derail your post, Kristen)

    Cécile, thank you so much for your compassion and good wishes.

    You’re welcome! As William said to me in his series, “I feel your pain.” I still don’t “know what to do” with affect dysregulation and dissociation when it’s happening. I should take my own advice (have been in a stormy maladaptive/self-destructive place for quite some time), but, in the meantime, have you tried googling anything like self-regulation, affect regulation, or physical grounding? I also find that clinical literature can be helpful for coping—though I know it’s still not a replacement for therapy. Or perhaps exploring online trauma support groups? (I’ve been thinking of looking into that myself.) Best wishes to you!

  54. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

    …self-regulation, affect regulation, or physical grounding…
    *adding “trauma” or “PTSD” in front of any of these phrases, of course :-P haha

  55. Joani McBride
    Joani McBride February 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    I would just like to call attention to the reality of “Evangelism”. Simply put Evangelism is spiritual and intellectual Imperialism. A reading of the “sacred books” of all 3 of the principle groupings of the Abrahamic Faiths will quickly reveal that this Imperialism is commanded by faith.
    Each of these groups has a long and bloody history of Evangelism by sword and that history is not instances of abberant groups within the whole. It is fundamental to the faiths.
    We realized during the War in Viet Nam that sadly, our nation was saying, “Give us your hearts and minds (evangelism, no) or we’ll burn your f#@%ing village down” Jericho much.
    A reading of the history of European colonization of the North American land mass reveals the Franciscan and Jesuit orders of priests converting the first peoples into landless refugees often huddled into concentration camps or simply exterminated. You know, sorta like the Palestinians.
    Inquisition/Jihad. Relax, just practicing their religion.
    Do I want to see some very strong limits on them practicing their Religion? WTF, my Momma raised a fool…but it was my little brother. Enough.

  56. Donna L
    Donna L February 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm |

    I think that was another example of right wing Jews becoming more and more like fundamentalist Christians, as proselytizing is not something I associate with Judaism. (Although I think this guy technically was not trying to convert non-Jews, so proselytizing is perhaps the wrong word)

    The Hasidic Jewmobiles have been around forever. Their goal is not to proselytize, it’s to try to persuade secular or otherwise non-Orthodox Jews to “return” to Orthodox practice. The term is Ba’al Tshuva. They don’t, to my knowledge, approach people they don’t think — for whatever reason — are Jewish. And yes, I do understand how problematic the concept of “looking Jewish” is.

    I also understand that there were always people proselytizing in public spaces in New York City in the 1970′s, including Hare Krishna devotees and fundamentalist Christians — the kind of people who were referred to as “the God Squad” when I was in college. My point was simply that I didn’t actually know or meet any people like that when I was growing up.

  57. Jen in Ohio
    Jen in Ohio February 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm |

    have you tried googling anything like self-regulation, affect regulation, or physical grounding? I also find that clinical literature can be helpful for coping—though I know it’s still not a replacement for therapy. Or perhaps exploring online trauma support groups? (I’ve been thinking of looking into that myself.)

    Oh all that, and a hundred other things. :wry grin:

    Best wishes to you!

    Backatcha.

    /derail

  58. Donna L
    Donna L February 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    a long and bloody history of Evangelism by sword

    Why am I not surprised that this thread is being used for generalized attacks on that favorite target, the “Abrahamic Faiths” lumped together as some kind of singularly evil entity?

    How long has it been since Judaism has sought converts through “Evangelism by sword”? Maybe 2,500 years? More? Speak for your own long and bloody history, whatever it is.

    I didn’t think it was possible to write a comment that mentions extermination, concentration camps, and the Inquisition while deliberately failing to mention one specific group of people who have far more frequently been the targets than the perpetrators of those practices — and, in the third case, the specific reason for the Inquisition’s existence — but you managed. Congratulations. And thanks for the derail.

  59. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar February 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm |

    I view the alliances between conservative Protestants and Catholics, and to a lesser extent Jews, as not a mere tactical alliance but a long-term strategic coalition. I think it’s a decades-long realignment driven by the fear and resentment that social conservatives feel when the world changes in ways they can’t understand. Most people do not accomodate themselves to new realities when their world changes but merely grow embittered, as Trent Lott proved when he essentially said that the world would be better if segregation had never ended. Religious conservatives have never accepted a world where women have some medical control of fertility, but that world came without their acceptance. They will not accept a world where marriage equality is common and increasingly accepted, but that world is coming without their acceptance. They will self-select their organizations and even schism their churches (see Episcopalians) to align their religious grouping with their politics and religious conservatives who are Protestant will be closer to conservative Catholics than to moderate or progressive Protestants for the rest of my lifetime. That’s my prediction. And it’s not without some glee that I’m watching the bitterness and frustration that some of those folks experience as the world around them changes into one beyond their ken.

  60. j.
    j. February 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm |

    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.

    …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.

    “Don’t worry, theists, we won’t make you think too hard about anything here! Your precious superstitions will go unchallenged!”

  61. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

    They will not accept a world where marriage equality is common and increasingly accepted, but that world is coming without their acceptance… it’s not without some glee that I’m watching the bitterness and frustration that some of those folks experience as the world around them changes into one beyond their ken.

    And the increasing anger and opposition that they’re provoking in trying to mass-impose their fundamentalism is SO heartening and valuable! They’re shooting their own feet in many ways. This topic really isn’t my forté, but I can intuit that their “kind” are more of a minority than that their media presence would suggest… but damn, what a frightening and powerful media presence at that.

  62. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm |

    @J,

    Yes, because I never challenge theism. **eye roll** You must be newish. Nope, I’m just bored with that conversation. I’ve been having it for 20 years and I’d like to talk about something else now.

  63. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm |

    And the increasing anger and opposition that they’re provoking in trying to mass-impose their fundamentalism is SO heartening and valuable! They’re shooting their own feet in many ways. This topic really isn’t my forté, but I can intuit that their “kind” are more of a minority than that their media presence would suggest… but damn, what a frightening and powerful media presence at that.

    Also, and this may be wishful thinking on my part, but my interpretation of the seeming upswell in Evangelical activism over the past couple years is that it actually represents a sort of “last stand” for them politically. They have lost battle after battle on issues like LGBT rights and policing free speech in media (just look at the internet). The overall religiosity of Americans has declined dramatically over the past 10 years (especially among the younger generations), and most Evangelical churches are aging. Most of the new immigrants coming into the U.S. are not Protestants. And taking a longer view of the past fifty years, it becomes clear that Evangelicals are losing the culture war. They are losing on abortion, on gay rights, on ideas around women’s role in society, on societal standards around “decency” and “obscenity,” on almost all their core issues. And they realize it, which is why they always talk about how America is in decline and increasingly seem to be hoping for the end of the world. And they seem to be realizing it especially acutely now, which is why I think they are freaking out like this and going for one last hurrah. Obviously, I can’t predict the future, but I think we may be heading the direction of Europe and be about to see a massive trend toward secularization over the next couple generations.

  64. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

    P.S. “For Christ’s sake, stop talking.“—Punny!

    Someone just happened to post this elsewhere in an online dwelling. (Article: My Take: Don’t blame college for young people leaving Christianity) Thought I’d throw it in the mix here. Had mixed feelings while reading it, but maybe that’s just my own prejudice and negative associations, heh. The best line, though, for which I applaud Mr. King for taking the stand:

    The years young adults spend in college aren’t causing them to leave their faith; those college years are exposing the problems with the faith they grew up with.

  65. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm |

    The overall religiosity of Americans has declined dramatically over the past 10 years (especially among the younger generations)

    Haha, ironically, I just posted a link to something about this too! (it’s stuck in mod)

    And they seem to be realizing it especially acutely now, which is why I think they are freaking out like this and going for one last hurrah.

    I hope that’s what it is. Even if that’s not their explicit intention, they’re certainly scaring a lot of people.

  66. debbie
    debbie February 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

    Thank you. Nobody should forget that despite all the publicity that right-wing (usually Orthodox) USA Jews receive for getting in bed with Christian fundamentalists (and have been getting since the days of Richard Nixon), the overwhelming majority of Jewish people in this country consistently identifies as liberal/progressive — with very little correlation between economic status and political identity, unlike most other ethnic groups except for African-Americans — and consistently votes against Republican candidates, etc., etc.

    I hope I’m not derailing, but I find this fascinating – the Jewish community in Canada has become quite conservative. In Toronto, Jews were an integral part of labour movement and other progressive/radical movements. Until recently, most Jews probably identified as centrist (I guess what Americans would call liberals). That no longer seems to be the case, and is directly tied to the willingness of the Conservative party’s willingness to (1) support Israel at all costs (federal government), and (2) provide government funding for private religious schools (provincial level in Ontario).

  67. anon for this one33
    anon for this one33 February 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

    @ScottInOH; Great link, thanks! Pope Prada (aka Benedict XVI) is virulently anti-Vatican II*. If the USian Evangelical Christian Movement seems bent on going back to 1850, one gets the feeling *he’d* like to go back to the Halcyon Days of the RCC ca 1450!

    That article is really pretty vague and not at all convincing in arguing that Benedict XVI and John Paul II are anti-Vatican II. I’ve read through it a few times, and his argument essentially seems to be: they haven’t laicized priests, they’ve marginalized local bishops by traveling, BXVI sounds insufficiently enthusiastic when talking about Vatican II, and JPII had a catechism commissioned and didn’t like people to receive communion via hand (which is kind of a moot point since receiving communion via hand is still acceptable.)

    Vatican II was actually about the following things, though: 1) Stop praying for Jews to convert, and take a more ecumenical tone towards non-Catholics, including both Orthodox people and Protestants, because rude. 2) Mass should be said in the local vernacular instead of Latin, unless there is a special dispensation for it, and even then the order of the Mass is slightly altered to accommodate point 1. 3) Greater participation of the faithful in the Liturgy (i.e., non-religious getting more involved in the process of the Mass via readings, leading prayers, being altar servers, bringing up gifts for communion, etc.)

    So I have no idea where you’re getting “virulently” anti-V-II from, because it definitely didn’t come from that article, even. Virulently anti-Vatican II people, actually virulently anti-Vatican II people, are sedevacantists à la Mel Gibson and father. Look up radical traditionalist Catholics, like Slaves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary — really creepy.

  68. debbie
    debbie February 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

    I’m also going to make a more on topic post:

    Evangelical Christianity does not have the same political clout in Canada that it does in the United States, especially in big cities and Quebec (although, oddly enough, our Prime Minister is an evangelical Christian). However, US-based evangelical groups, like Focus on the Family have moved north of the border to spread their message. They don’t seem to have much of a foothold, but living in Toronto gives me a skewed perspective.

    Here’s an article on the Christian right in Canada if anyone is interested.

  69. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |

    Haha, ironically, I just posted a link to something about this too! (it’s stuck in mod)

    Great minds think alike! I just prefer to make my claims unsourced. I believe people should take what I say on face value based off my inherent, stupendous credibility.

  70. anon for this one33
    anon for this one33 February 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm |

    Re big questions up top: I’m not aware of as strong of an Evangelical tone in my hometown, even though it’s the buckle of the Bible Belt, but that might be the fact that it’s a very large city, and simply that I don’t know many Evangelical Christians. In fact, I actually don’t think that I know very many (Christian) people at all who aren’t Catholic, Orthodox, or Mainline Protestant. I know a few people who go to Korean and Chinese-language churches that are non-denominational, but I wouldn’t describe them as being Evangelical.

    I wonder (absolutely speculation, no evidence to back this up) if there’s a particular reason why I don’t know anyone who’s Evangelical, since I’d be surprised if Houston didn’t have a fairly large Born-Again community. I’d actually be shocked.

  71. QLH
    QLH February 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |

    This is a guest post by Kristen J.

    Yay!

    Are Evangelical Churches impacting how schools operate in your community?

    LotusBen mentioned the “ultra-conservative Texas State Board of Education” above. As I understand it, because Texas buys such a significant % of textbooks, the changes the TSBE asks for end up in the books everyone reads. So whatever the TSBE wants, the rest of the country gets.

  72. j.
    j. February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    **eye roll** You must be newish.

    Nah, just tired of the undue privilege that belief gets in this country, kthx.

  73. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm |

    I just prefer to make my claims unsourced. I believe people should take what I say on face value based off my inherent, stupendous credibility.

    Not at all, LotusBen!! Whenever my comment appears, you’ll see that it’s a news site blog post ;-)
    (featuring unsourced statistics at that!)
    Still, it’s interesting… given the POV…
    *unbearable suspense on Feministe*
    (jk)

  74. konkonsn
    konkonsn February 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm |

    @LotusBen

    And they realize it, which is why they always talk about how America is in decline and increasingly seem to be hoping for the end of the world. And they seem to be realizing it especially acutely now, which is why I think they are freaking out like this and going for one last hurrah.

    I want to believe this, but I’d like someone with some experience (or perhaps you have experience, and if so, can I have links/books?) of these types of movements to know this is true. It’s just, whenever I think something has never happened before, I find some television recording from the 40′s or read a book from the 1800s that suggests that civilization tends to go around in one big circle. I feel like a century ago the fundamentalists were saying that the world would end because we were all becoming morally bankrupt and that the progressives of that day honestly believed we were “finally” stepping past all of that and into a better age.

    It’s not that we’re not spiraling closer to a more progressive goal, it’s just that the exact same rhetoric gets used every other decade with the same results.

  75. konkonsn
    konkonsn February 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm |

    @anon for this one33

    No, you’re not the only one. I mean, when we tried to study the Bible in my high school English class, nobody in the room would talk because they believed that discussing it as anything other than a sacred object was wrong. BUT, we had a teacher who put that into the lesson plan in the first place, and nobody went to a school board or principal to complain, so…(this teacher was awesome. We read The Handmaid’s Tale in that class as well).

    And this was a smallish farming community in rural Illinois. The other two places I’ve lived were college towns (though smaller and located between miles of corn), and while we have some dude that likes to read/shout the bible in front of our library from time to time, I’ve not encountered much outright fundamentalism.

    I may insulate myself, however. I’m more of an online person than anything, so I don’t get around my campus all that much.

  76. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date February 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm |

    I view the alliances between conservative Protestants and Catholics, and to a lesser extent Jews, as not a mere tactical alliance but a long-term strategic coalition.

    Don’t forget the Mormons. Though it seems to me currently that the conservative Protestants are more comfortable with the conservative Catholics than the conservative Mormons.

  77. Blue Collar Todd
    Blue Collar Todd February 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm |

    This Evangelical has argued that Christians should lead the charge against gay bullying while not compromising our view that homosexuality is a sin. I would even argue that a Christian should use violence to stop an attack on a gay person.

  78. librarygoose
    librarygoose February 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

    Christians should lead the charge against gay bullying while not compromising our view that homosexuality is a sin.

    I don’t think these two views will ever exist together on a large scale.

  79. EG
    EG February 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm |

    First of all, the bullying is not “gay.” It is anti-gay.

    Second: “So, you’re going to burn in hell unless you give up any chance you might have of finding sexual and romantic happiness, but, um, we’re not going to beat you up or anything. It’s just that, you know, you have no hope of happiness and God’s approval.” I don’t see that helping so much.

  80. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

    Well, konkonsn, my predictions and some of my analysis were highly speculative, and I wouldn’t put money on them. But I think I can point you to some of types of resources that influenced me in the developing these opinions.

    Here’s an two interesting Pew surveys from 2007 and 2010 that shows how people under 30 are less religious and more socially progressive than their elders: http://www.pewforum.org/Age/Religion-Among-the-Millennials.aspx

    Some key findings:

    **22% of people under 30 are Evangelical Christians as opposed to 27% of people over 30.

    **Only 18% of people under 30 attend church on a weekly basis. Thirty years ago, 26% of people under 30 attended church on a weekly basis.

    **63% of people under 30 say “homosexuality should be accepted by society” as opposed to 47% of people over 30.

  81. Cécile
    Cécile February 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

    This Evangelical has argued that Christians should lead the charge against gay bullying while not compromising our view that homosexuality is a sin

    Join it—absolutely. But it’s already being led… by the LGBTQ community, with support from people who love and accept them just as they are.

  82. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |

    Todd, I find it amusing that on your blog you say you are not a Democrat because of “liberal intolerance for the freedom of thought, get ready for re-education camps.” In fact, you display very little tolerance for freedom of thought through your own political commitments. You don’t think women should be free to think about having an abortion, at least not if they plan to act on that thought. You would prefer that they be forced by the government to stay pregnant and give birth against their will. In a similar way, you support the “re-education” of gay people by people like Michelle Bachmann’s husband and the rest of the ex-gay movement, and hope to convince them to ignore their innate, biological desires and focus instead on following the rigid moral precepts found in a handful of desert fairy tales that were written thousands of years ago.

  83. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh February 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm |

    OK, in my zeal to make my point about how shitty the Texas State Board of Education is; I got a bit carried away on one count. I said most of them aren’t professional educators. Actually, most of them do have a background as professional educators. But they are still overwhelmingly not experts in the fields in which they are choosing to rewrite textbooks.

    Speaking of the Texas State Board of Education, Ben, you may find some comments by Carolyn Jessop in her second book interesting (she’s ex-FLDS and used to teach elementary school in the FLDS’ Arizona/Utah community), where she talks about how the Evangelical push for homeschooling in Texas created a system where the FLDS was able to get away with very, very poorly educating the children living on the YFZ ranch. The quality of education in the Arizona/Utah community was already bad enough, but Texas homeschool laws allowed the Texas FLDS to get away with much worse.

  84. librarygoose
    librarygoose February 29, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

    Todd, I find it amusing that on your blog

    Whoa, you actually went to the blog? How very…not brave…what’s a mix of brave and pointless?

  85. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon March 1, 2012 at 5:06 am |

    I grew up in a fairly small town in east Texas, so was surrounded by evangelicals growing up. Although my family was partially lapsed Methodist, partially fundamentalist but more charismatic so my personal experience of being damaged by the church is a little different.

    I don’t remember there being any crisis pregnancy centers in my town, probably because the local Planned Parenthood did not do abortions (although there were always a handful of protesters – mostly from the catholic church – outside). Google maps tells me there’s a shitload about.

    As for school, well, what everyone else said about the horrible Texas BoE. There was a heavily Christian presence in my school, Teens for Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Meet at the Pole or whatever it’s called. It was pretty rough to be The Atheist Kid and I was always in an argument with SOMEONE. Many teary fights about abortion issues and such. I was on the prayer list for Teens for Christ and a group of girls my bestie had stopped hanging out with in favor of me and my friends had an intervention thing for her. ‘You thought you were just coming to sleep over, well SURPRISE!!!’

    Anyway, in eighth or ninth grade I went to the administration with a friend to see about starting a group for kids of other faiths, and was told there was no way anyone would be interested and to stop trying to be unique.

  86. Crys T
    Crys T March 1, 2012 at 5:44 am |

    Re Yonah’s comment about the attitudes of some USian immigrants to Israel:

    “Christians love and will protect us, as they always have!”

    WHAT?!!? I don’t even………

  87. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    Whoa, you actually went to the blog? How very…not brave…what’s a mix of brave and pointless?

    I think the word you are looking for is “reckless.” Or maybe “foolhardy.”

  88. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm |

    Wow, thanks for the recommendation Annaleigh. That does sound interesting. I’ve had a fascination with the FLDS ever since I read Jon Krakauer’s book Under the Banner of Heaven about the FLDS and the history of the Mormons–which is a really good book by the way.

  89. Yonah
    Yonah March 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

    Crys T: RIGHT?? Is it like gay republicans? People need coping mechanisms in this hostile world but it’s a shame when it comes out so destructive and absurd.

    LotusBen:

    63% of people under 30 say “homosexuality should be accepted by society” as opposed to 47% of people over 30.

    Really? Only 63% would agree to such a modest statement? Depressing.

  90. Blue Collar Todd
    Blue Collar Todd March 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

    @LotusBen,

    I guess I’m not a determinist when it comes to human behavior. We have the possibility to refrain from this or that actions. Rejecting free will is not a strong way to make your argument. Married men may have frequent desires to have affairs, many act on them, but many do not. Some are making the choice not to act on their desires. Just because one has a desire to do something does it mean he or she must act on that desires. As to abortion, I would think that an action that causes harm to another person is one that would justify limiting that action.

  91. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. March 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm |

    @Todd,

    **BUZZ** Oops…my bullshit detector just went off. You know, you are probably going to absolutely *hate* the rest of this series…I tend to make Evangelicals incredibly uncomfortable. Daughter of Satan and all that. So why don’t you head on back to your normal stomping grounds and we won’t have to spend countless hours correcting you about silly things like autonomy, freedom, and personhood.

  92. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm |

    I was just going to respond to you Todd, but I see that Kristen already did, and her response about covers it. I really shouldn’t get sucked into a debate with you as much as I’d probably enjoy it. So yeah. Ta-ta for now.

  93. firelizard19
    firelizard19 March 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

    I have seen an org. called the Gabriel Project. They have a sign posted outside a local Catholic church that says “Pregnant? Need Help?” and then gives a phone number. They appear to be a crisis pregnancy center, but they don’t appear to pretend to be neutral. They also appear to offer actual help to the mothers through church support, rather than the usual song of “don’t get an abortion- oops, but we’ll still shame you for being an unwed mother and deny you any help actually raising the kid”. It appears to be a shade of grey, where on the national stage we’re so used to seeing the most egregious examples of anti-choice rhetoric.

    Maybe it is just as bad as other groups, but maybe it reminds us that there are good people on all sides, and sometimes they promote their beliefs- even beliefs I disagree with personally- with compassion, not hate.

    So, I suppose, this project is either OT (since I think it’s Catholic based) or somewhere between the kind ladies distributing fliers mentioned above and crisis pregnancy centers that exist to shame and trick women out of abortion.

  94. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. March 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm |

    @firelizard,

    You might want check that org before you give it the thumbs up. I “volunteered” at similar orgs when I was young and they help you right up until you give birth and only if you are willing to pursue adoption. Plus during the six or so months you live with them or accept their support you get to hear repeatedly what an awful slut you are (oh, yes, even if you were raped). Its similar to what Cecile described above. I’ve seen teenage girls leave those places nearly suicidal after giving birth.

    I have no doubt there are “good” people everywhere, but good intentions don’t magically ameliorate harm. But then I’ll talk more about that when I get to how the Movement does activism.

  95. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat March 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm |

    *gets out the popcorn* Oh, now I REALLY can’t wait. Just so everyone knows exactly where I stand: I was raised ELCA, but when I was 14 we moved to an area where 75% of the county attends a local Southern Bapist megachurch. I think I made it 22 days before my first screaming match with someone trying to “save” me. (At the time I was pretty devout, so that made it extra fun/insulting.) I know there are kind, logical, progressive Christians; I see them every Sunday. But after more than a decade I’ve been analyzing my own qualms about the Bible and marinating in various flavors of “you’re going to hell” bigotry, I’m done. Nice quiet atheism for me.

    Seriously, these rabid chuckleheads “saved” me right out of being a Jesus Freak. THE IRONY.

  96. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. March 2, 2012 at 2:08 am |

    *gets out the popcorn*

    Drinks are in the fridge!

  97. Mary
    Mary March 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm |

    The ELCA took on the term “Evangelical” about twenty-five years ago, when two major Lutheran denominations (the ALC = American Lutheran Church, which was Norwegian in origin, and the LCA = Lutheran Church in America, which was Swedish in origin) decided to repress their cultural differences and join forces under a new name. The church is progressive. Time to “Occupy” Evangelism!

  98. SarahJ
    SarahJ March 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm |

    Also very excited to see this covered. I grew up evangelical in the American South, then attended a Baptist university. I’m now doing an MA at a college of the University of London, and I’m focusing on the role Christian fundamentalism has played in facilitating the growth of colonial empire. Needless to say, I am no longer religious, but I do understand the concerns raised by previous posters about terminology. I tend to classify the people you’re discussing as fundamentalists for two reasons: they have a very black and white view of doctrine. There’s no other acceptable interpretation of the Bible. Second, they have politicized their religious beliefs. And this covers so much ground. Some fundamentalists may indeed be evangelical, but that has heavily Protestant connotations, and so leaves out Mormons and conservative Catholics who share the ambition to legislate doctrine. Even within Protestant circles not all fundamentalists classify as evangelical, and vice versa. And as other posters have noted, some evangelicals are very egalitarian and therefore can’t be lumped in with the others.

    Why yes, I do feel as if the first 21 years of my life were fieldwork.

  99. EG
    EG March 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

    Second, they have politicized their religious beliefs.

    But this is more true than not across history–religion has played a heavy, major political role throughout the centuries, and for most people, the two have not been able to be separated.

  100. SarahJ
    SarahJ March 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

    @EG: it has definitely played a heavy role. The difference is, I think, is that religious institutions have been (on paper, at least) separated from state power, so fundamentalists perceive a decline in the political influence of their particular religions and so they work to reverse the trend. Religious power is more localized, at least in majority Protestant countries. I think that’s also why these extremist denominations flourish.

  101. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm |

    As to abortion, I would think that an action that causes harm to another person is one that would justify limiting that action.

    Which is why we need to limit the power of these religious zealots who would endanger women’s health, safety and lives due to their completely illogical definition of ‘personhood.’

  102. Colin Mackay
    Colin Mackay March 4, 2012 at 9:28 am |

    Catholics have an evangelical arm. To truly challenge the power of the fundamentalist right it is necessary to understand: their corporate structure ( https://plus.google.com/photos/101528582816672268631/albums/5716046576613675121 ), strategic direction and operational methods. I can see no point in trying to distinguish between the particular sects, it only enables the ‘warriors’ to remain hidden and continue the work of infiltrating the seven mountains. Remember, as we try to identify an ever moving target, they go about they’re business unperturbed.
    In fact, the religious mountain missionaries sole purpose is to infiltrate the various churches and to ‘influence their members. catholics included

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  104. firelizard19
    firelizard19 March 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

    @ Kristen

    Oh, I wasn’t meaning to endorse them, just pop in with an anecdote about where I’ve seen crisis pregnancy centers in my neighborhood. I’m also an optimist, sometimes too much so, but I’m glad you brought a counterpoint to the image they present for themselves

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