What is Wrong with Conservative Evangelicalism

Certain events lately have occasioned the creation of this on-line space: conservative evangelical support for Donald J. Trump for the presidency, conservative evangelical social and religious hypocrisy, and, most notably, the story of a "Christian" woman who claims that God told her to leave her husband for the charismatic pastor of a church. Let's begin with conservative evangelicalism and Trump. 

Conservative evangelicals like Jerry Falwell, Jr. (who publicly endorsed Trump) and Franklin Graham (who did not publicly endorse Trump but who, nevertheless, used every known rhetorical device to denounce Hillary Clinton and endorse Trump without using his name -- who also admitted that God put Trump into office and, thus, God can grace America once again) are merely toeing the party-line and Republican advocates -- no matter who runs as the Republican candidate, the individual receives the support of such evangelicals, and all under the guise of "Christian values." This sickens me.

Never mind that Donald Trump is thrice-married, guilty of numerous adulterous affairs, disrespects and assaults women; never mind his historical ties with the Democrats who are loathed by conservative evangelical so-called Christians, is a former supporter of Planned Parenthood and abortion, and that he changed his position on abortion five times within three days; never mind his narcissism, shady business deals with casinos and other non-"Christian"-valued venues, or his severely handicapped self-control issues. What matters to many conservative evangelicals is the propagation of Republicanism. Why? Because Republicanism is still viewed by such individuals as a "Christian" vote. 

Where is the hypocrisy? The hypocrisy of these conservative evangelicals is most evident in their double standards: they post meme after meme on social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) against abortion, lexicographically shouting how all lives matter, and then demean and degrade Muslims and Syrians vying to escape their own cultural hell, objectify and belittle Hillary Clinton and other liberals by lying and misrepresentation, and all the while continue to insist that Jesus loves all people and we should treat all people as does Jesus. Hypocrites! We can't hear your message for your hypocrisy. 

One should never blame a particular group of people for a few bad apples among them. So, I will try to tread carefully when addressing the following outlandish real-life story, a story born out of the womb of the conservative Charismatic/Pentecostal evangelical (and overtly Republican-supporting) movement. Not all Charismatics and Pentecostals and Third Wave proponents sin so grievously, so openly, and so unashamedly as the following "pastor" and his "spiritual wife," who is still legally married to another man, mind you -- all under the banner and for the cause of conservative "Christian" evangelicalism, the religious right, the "moral" majority (there is not an ounce of morality present in these two people). 

Tragically, the outrageous nature of these circumstances is syndicated for the entire world to see on the Dr. Phil show, and many people will, no doubt, think that Christians are crazy. Others will think that Charismatic/Pentecostal Christians are crazy. Still others will think that conservative evangelical Christians are crazy. This, coupled with an endorsement of Donald Trump for presidency, will only add fuel to the already crazy fire. We should all be denouncing the following two individuals as pagans. 

Charismatics James and Jennifer move to Missouri in order to join Doug Perry's independent Charismatic congregation, the Fellowship of the Martyrs (FOTM). Within a two-year period, Jennifer becomes attached to "pastor" Doug, who claims to be a prophet of God and one who hears the voice of God -- and he does not, for he is a false prophet, and is aligned with Satan -- and those in the congregation, including Jennifer, think that Doug is a prophet of God who hears the very voice of God for the direction they are to take in all matters of life: social, religious, and political.

As anyone could guess, the marriage of James and Jennifer begins to deteriorate because Jennifer is emotionally attached to "pastor" Doug. But the matter is far worse. God actually gets the blame for this! God allegedly tells Jennifer to leave her husband and be joined to false-prophet and false-pastor Doug. Fearing that his family is in danger of a cult and a cult leader -- rightly so -- James takes his children and leaves (his wife unwilling to leave). James is charged with kidnapping and is taken to prison. 

Now, out of prison, James attempts to salvage his family and marriage. He does so by reaching out to Dr. Phil, who calls James, Jennifer, and false-prophet and false-pastor Doug to appear on his show. Watching the episode is painful but very telling. The so-called pastor informs one audience member (and implicitly all who reject his false version of Christianity) that he is ipso facto the enemy -- the enemy of Christians, the enemy of Christianity, and the enemy of God, Christ, and the Spirit of God. 

What is the driving force for all these actions is the deception of a "God told me" belief, which, unfortunately, is rife within Charismatic/Pentecostal churches. As long as one imagines him- or herself under the direct guidance of God Almighty, because God allegedly speaks to and through such individuals, and we can include the likes of Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham and a host of other conservative evangelicals in such a group, vying to show these folks another perspective is nearly impossible. They are deluded; they imagine that "God" is on their side.

For example, the notion that a Christian could vote politically for a candidate who supports abortion is rarely heard among conservative evangelicals, given their presupposition that all life is precious to God. Fair and well. However, if all life is precious to God, would that not include the likes of their perceived social, religious, and political enemies? Do all Democratic lives matter? Do all Libertarian lives matter? Do all Socialist lives matter? Honestly, this situation is further complicated within a Calvinistic paradigm, since the God of Calvinism decreed, renders certain, and brings to pass all events -- including abortion, including gay marriage, and including who becomes president. 

Rather than merely present a screed here, I want conservative evangelicals to think hard about their message(s), and all the while seek to be consistent, not merely to their own social sermons, but to the actual teachings of Jesus Christ. You are most free to post your pro-life memes. Let us all be a voice for the voiceless. But you are required to love and to pray for those who disagree with you. You are legally free to vote for a candidate like Donald J. Trump, Christian. But you are required to love and to pray for those who, out of either conscience or biblical worldview, cannot vote for such an individual.

Moreover, on this topic, you are also required to rightly represent the opposing candidate(s), not misrepresenting or presenting half-truths or unverified claims regarding the person(s), and certainly not lying about any individual. This includes posting memes and other forms of information from sites that provide unverified information, conspiratorial propaganda, and outlandish suspicious claims. I had to learn a hard and embarrassing lesson recently regarding much the same.

While I hope to witnesses changes within conservative evangelicalism, I fear that many within the group will only go from bad to worse (cf. 2 Tim. 3:13). The poison of a "God told me" perspective, or an unfounded or unwarranted "rightness," pervades the mind of many conservative evangelicals to the point that renders change impossible. As long as conservative evangelicals think that they are standing for Christian principles, even while they are being overtly inconsistent, Christlike change eludes them.

What is at the heart of the problem with evangelicalism is hubris -- an arrogance that insists on its own rightness without considering that it could be wrong, very sorely wrong, and actually not speaking the values of God at all. I do not think that the Democratic party is God's mouthpiece; nor do I believe any political party is God's mouthpiece. The voice of God is found in the word of God. But evangelicals conflate their politics with their religion and flirt ever so closely with idolatry. Jesus is not a Republican. The sooner evangelicals learn this truth the sooner they can repent of their pride, arrogance, and mean-spirited finger-pointing at those with whom they disagree -- the sooner they can be about the business of the Father, regarding the gospel, not allowing Republicanism to replace their religion.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.