Jesus and John Wayne | Reflections & Notes

Kristin Kobes Du Mez. Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2020. (356 pages)

WWNorton’s book page; book page; NPR Author interview;


In 1997 I began dating a woman which quickly led to the discussion of marriage. We were both pursuing vocational ministry at the time, and as you do, we discussed various beliefs, perspectives, and dreams. After I professed an evangelical faith in the “spiritual leadership” of the man of the home, as well as the “place of women” in the church, a perspective which was “clearly biblical,” she looked at me and simply said, “Oh, I can’t marry someone who believes that.”

I decided to look into it.

I wish I could tell you that reading this book was a wonderful experience. In all honesty, it was terrifyingly disconcerting. Each page I turned I saw my spiritual history. True Love Waits? Yup. I signed the card, held the promise, and taught it to my youth group when I became a youth pastor. (When I handed out “purity keys,” as part of the ceremony, one of my kids gleefully told me that he was calling this gift that I gave him “the key to my crotch.” #YouthPastorWin!) Focus on the Family? Yup! James Dobson was a standard voice in my home. Promise Keepers? Yup! I not only went with the men in my church, my dad sought to make it a yearly ritual. Battle Cry and Ron Luce? Yup. I remember my youth group kids smashing their secular CDs at one of the conferences I took them to. Institutes in Basic Youth Conflicts? Yup. The book is still on my shelf. I of course consumed the more innocuous mentions of DC Talk, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, the beloved Veggie Tales (which I still actually love to this day–thank you Phil Vischer), and of course Petra!

Over the last two decades, my views have radically shifted, mostly through studying Jesus, actually reading the Bible in its original languages and through its cultural and historical context, and learning from a diverse set of voices that I was never exposed to, even through Bible college and seminary. And so the later elements in this book having to do with politics, Duck Dynasty, and people like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham have fortunately been peripheral to my later stages of Christian development. Still, after finishing the conclusion, I could not help but feel a sense of discomposure, that had I not had that conversation so many years ago, and considered carefully my biases, presuppositions, and prejudices regarding my “gendered theology,” would I have been a subject of this book, not just a reader?

Dr. Du Mez has provided a journalistically insightful history of evangelicalism’s masculine expression, highlighting key figures and events that together illuminate the why’s and how’s of its development through the decades. The following are my main observations:

1. I was struck by how influential the wars in our nation’s history were in influencing evangelical culture. World War II, Vietnam, and 9/11 struck at the heart of our [American] security, which demanded–emotionally and physically–a response of “strength.” Evangelicals were deeply influenced by these moments and saw themselves within the same struggle. That our national conscience has been and will continue to be intricately tied to evangelicalism’s spiritual conscience is both insightful and an indictment on this religion’s cultural compromise.

2. Once again, fear is at the base of it all. Masculine strength is in many ways rooted in the concern of loss, and evangelicals feel as if there is a lot to lose. The terrors of “communism” (now “socialism”), “feminism,” and various versions of “apocalypticism” are best to be understood as scapegoats, because what is ultimately being lost is evangelical “power.”

3. This concern for loss of power betrays a diverse set of inconvenient truths for white evangelicals. First, that their pride of place as the dominant socio-political force is slipping (see Rober P. Jones’ The End of White Christian America), a fact that is ripe with the psychological concerns of “group position theory;” the idea that the dominant group can feel threatened by the mere “closing of the gap” between the top tiers of the social hierarchy, and the bottom. While this is seen as progress for human equality, the “top group” will only see this as a threat to their power. This is also why “masculine evangelicalism” is also expressed in misogyny and racism, the more volatile inconvenient truths for white evangelicals.

4. This all points to this paradox, that the show of masculine strength betrays the underlying reality of the fragile white male ego. Without over psychologizing, it was hard not to see how deeply insecure so many of the white, male, evangelical voices were. In accordance with the legal axiom to pound the facts when you have the facts, pound the law when you have the law, or pound the table when you have neither, there’s a lot of “table-pounding” in these masculine expressions.

5. Never underestimate the power of women’s voices in masculine Christianity. This is perhaps one of the most insightful lessons from this book, that a person’s gender is almost irrelevant when it comes to committing and adhering to a “masculine” persuasion of faith. First, this speaks to the entirety of our body politic being influenced by our social and political context (see #1 above), and women are part of our body politic. But second, women found usage in the same philosophical and rhetorical structures and strategies to gain or keep power in their own ways. Like racist ideas can influence people who are themselves objects of racism (see How To Be An Antiracist for more explication on this point) so women can be influenced by misogyny and co-opt the very sexism that damages their gender.

There’s so much more including the sexual scandals that emerge in this context, the role of the military in evangelicalism, and of course the politics of the first two decades of the 21st century. For that, I commend to you the entirety of this book as it is a gift to the broader historical knowledge and insight of evangelicalism’s shape and presence in this time and in the years to come. I am very much looking forward to our church’s public conversation with Dr. Du Mez, March 1, 2021.

Oh, and I must say “thank you” to the woman I mentioned at the top of this reflection who bought me this book as a gift, knowing I would “look into it.”



…evangelical support for Trump was no aberration, nor was it merely a pragmatic choice. It was, rather, the culmination of evangelicals’ embrace of militant masculinity, an ideology that enshrines patriarchal authority and condones the callous display of power, at home and abroad. … In 2016, many observers were stunned at evangelicals’ apparent betrayal of their own values. In reality, evangelicals did not cast their vote despite their beliefs, but because of them. (3)

Survey data reveal the stark contours of the contemporary evangelical worldview. More than any other religious demographic in America, white evangelical Protestants sup-(3)port preemptive war, condone the use of torture, and favor the death penalty. They are more likely than members of other faith groups to own a gun, to believe citizens should be allowed to carry guns in most places, and to feel safer with a firearm around. White evangelicals are more opposed to immigration reform and have more negative views of immigrants than any other religious demographic; two-thirds support Trump’s border wall. Sixty-eight percent of white evangelical Protestants–more than any other demographic–do not think that the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees. More than half of white evangelical Protestants think a majority nonwhite US population would be a negative development. White evangelicals are considerably more likely than others to believe that Islam encourages violence, to refuse to see Islam as “part of mainstream American society,” and to perceive “natural conflict between Islam and democracy.” At the same time, white evangelicals believe that Christians in America face more discrimination than Muslims. White evangelicals are significantly more authoritarian than other religious groups, and they express confidence in their religious leaders at much higher rates than do members of other faiths. (4)

Among evangelicals, high levels of theological illiteracy mean that many “evangelicals” hold views traditionally defined as heresy, calling into question the centrality of theology to evangelicalism generally. (6)

For conservative white evangelicals, the “good news” of the Christian gospel has become inextricably linked to a staunch commitment to patriarchal authority, gender difference, (6) and Christian nationalism, and all of these are intertwined with white racial identity. (7)

White evangelicalism has such an expansive reach in large part because of the culture it has created, the culture that it sells. (7)

Denominational boundaries are easily breached by the flow of religious merchandising. Indeed, one can participate in this religious culture without attending church at all. (8)

| Yet this cultural evangelicalism remains intertwined with “establishment evangelicalism.” (8)

Rather than seeking to distinguish “real” from “supposed” evangelicals, then, it is more useful to think in terms of the degree to which individuals participate in this evangelical culture of consumption. (8)

As a diffuse movement, evangelicalism lacks clear institutional authority structures, but the evangelical marketplace itself helps define who is inside and who is outside the fold. (9)

The products Christians consume shape the faith they inhabit. Today, what it means to be a “conservative evangelical” is as much about culture as it is about theology. (10)

ACROSS TWO MILLENNIA of Christian history–and within the history of evangelicalism itself–there is ample precedent for sexism, racism, xenophobia, violence, and imperial designs. But there are also expressions of the Christian faith–and of evangelical Christianity–that have disrupted the status quo and challenged systems of privilege and power. The Christian Scriptures contain stories of a violent warrior God, and of a savior who summons followers to care of the “least of these.” The Bible ends in a bloody battle, but it also entreats believers to act with love and peace, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Contemporary white evangelicalism in America, then, is not the inevitable outworking of “biblical literalism,” nor is it the only possible interpretation of the historic Christian faith; the history of American Christianity itself is filled with voices of resistance and signs of paths not taken. It is, rather, a historical and a cultural movement, forged over time by individuals and organizations with varied motivations–the desire to discern God’s will, to bring order to uncertain times, and, for many, to extend their own power. The story that follows is one of world wars and presidential politics, of entrepreneurial preachers and theological innovation, of blockbuster movies, sex manuals, and self-help books. It does not begin with Donald Trump. Nor will it end with him. (14)

Chapter 1

By the early twentieth century, Christians recognized that they had a masculinity problem. … American masculinity, too, had recently undergone dramatic changes, contributing to this sense of unease. (15)

cf. Theodore Roosevelt; Billy Sunday

Borrowing from modern advertising techniques, evangelical innovators crafted a generic, nonsectarian faith that privileged individuals’ “plain reading of the Bible” and championed a commitment to the pure, unadulterated “fundamentals” of the faith. Branding this innovative approach “old-time religion,” they then marketed this faith directly to consumers. Through religious merchandising and with the help of celebrity pitchmen like Sunday himself, they effectively replaced traditional denominational authorities with the authority of the market and the power of consumer choice. (18)

[via: This point is significant, also discussed in Divided By Faith.]

Modernists and fundamentalists did, however, agree on the need to masculinize the faith. (19)

During the First World War, these competing visions of muscular Christianity were caught up in a frenzied militarism. … But “such a nation does not exist on earth, and never has existed, and never will exist until our Lord comes again.” For this reason, patriotism was no virtue; a Christian’s loyalty belonged to God’s kingdom, not to the nation. In a move that seems almost incomprehensible today, liberal Protestants pounced on this ambivalence, denouncing conservatives’ “un-American” faith and labeling their lack of patriotism a threat to national security. Fundamentalists responded by pointing to the origins of liberals’ higher-critical theology in German intellectual circles, and by shoring up their own patriotism. (19)

Sherwood Eddy, a leading liberal Protestant proponent of the war, expressed dismay at his prowar activism: (20)

I believed that it was a war to end war, to protect womanhood, to destroy militarism and autocracy and to make a new world ‘fit for heroes to live in,’…

The carnage and horrors of warfare put an end to all that. (20)

| In the wake of this disillusionment, the more militant model of Christian masculinity lost much of its luster. In its place, the ideal of the Christian businessman resurfaced as a prototype of Christian manhood. (20)

cf. Bruce Barton’s The Man Nobody Knows (1925)

Yet many fundamentalists retained more than vestiges of the former militancy. As premillennialists, fundamentalists were less troubled by the horrors of war. (20)

By asserting this militant masculinity in the postwar era, however, fundamentalists found themselves increasingly out of step with mainstream American Christianity, and with American culture more broadly. … Having failed in their bid to gain control of existing denominational structures, fundamentalists struck off on their own, creating a vibrant array of Bible schools, churches, mission organizations, publishing houses, and other religious associations. Bu they chafed at their marginal status, and by the 1940s they decided it was time to reengage on a national scale. Rather than blundering about in isolated “squads or platoons,” they resolved to unite as “a mighty army.” (21)

| To launch the offensive, a group of fundamentalist leaders came together in 1942 to form the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Their choice of the word “evangelical” was strategic. Aware of their image problem, fundamentalists knew they needed to rebrand their movement. The fact that some of the more militant fundamentalists had started their own organization (the American Council of Christian Churches, under the leadership of fundamentalists Carl McIntire) helped with this project, enabling the NAE to distance itself from more reactionary elements, and it was at this time that “evangelical” came to connote a more forward-looking alternative to the militant, separatist fundamentalism that had become an object of ridicule. But evangelicals never entirely abandoned a combative posture, and even as evangelicals worked to bring a new respectability to their “old-time religion,” fundamentalists fought to define the contours (21) of that faith. (22

cf. Reverend Harold John Ockenga; Billy Graham; George Marsden

In his [Graham’s] own conversion narrative, then, he drew on both athletic and military metaphors to make perfectly clear that his faith did not conflict with his masculinity. (23)

Among fundamentalists and evangelicals, any lingering ambivalence toward war was swept away by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The new war was an indisputable battle between good and evil, and this time around they would give no reason to be tarred as unpatriotic. Among Americans more generally, the war rehabilitated a more militant–and militaristic–model of masculinity, and fundamentalists and newly branded evangelicals, many of whom had never entirely abandoned the older muscular Christianity, joined the fray. (23) Tellingly, when it came to the tactics of total war employed by the US military, it was liberal Protestants–many still chastened by the First World War–who expressed reservations. Ockenga, on the other hand, defended the firebombing of German cities in the pages of the New York Times. Evangelicals relished this role reversal, and their newfound patriotism and militarism would help them overcome their reputation as extremists and their marginal status. (24)

No font of virtue, the military became for evangelicals a mission field, ripe for harvest. Through organizations like the Navigators, the Officers’ Christian Fellowship, the Overseas Christian Servicemen’s Centers, and the Christian Military Fellowship, evangelicals stepped up to address the moral shortcomings o the nation’s soldiers. The military, which had its own reasons to be concerned about the discipline and moral vitality of its forces, welcomed the work of evangelical organizations. It was the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship. (25)

In the fall of 1949 … Harboring doubts about the authority of the Bible, [Graham] began to question whether God might be calling him to a different path. It was on a particularly dark night of the soul that Graham, open Bible before him, resolved to set his intellectual difficulties aside and surrender completely to the authority of God’s Word. He later recalled waking up with a renewed sense of purpose as he prepared for his upcoming visit to Los Angeles, refreshed with a vision that “something unusual was going to happen” there. (25) … Two factors contributed to the unprecedented success of Graham’s LA crusade: the looming threat of nuclear annihilation and the conversion of a celebrity cowboy. (26)

For Graham, the stability of the home was key to both morality and security: “A nation is only as strong as her homes.” (26)

Graham’s patriarchal interpretation [of Genesis] reflected the more reactionary tendencies of early-twentieth-century fundamentalism. He added a new twist, however, by wedding patriarchal gender roles to a rising Christian nationalism. (27)

cf. Stuart Hamblen

cf. Pat Boone; Elvis Presley; Christianity Today, 1956; Robert Schuller and James Robison; Wheaton College, Fuller Seminary, the National Religious Broadcasters, the NAE, Campus Crusade for Christ, Young Life, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Christian Booksellers Association (CBA)

…despite his (30) rough edges, [John] Wayne would capture the hearts and imaginations of American evangelicals. The affinity was based not on theology, but rather on a shared masculine ideal. (31)

Chapter 2

Contemporary evangelical partisanship can only be understood in terms of a broader realignment that transformed partisan politics from the 1950s to the 1980s, a realignment that evangelicals themselves helped bring about. (33)

When Eisenhower decided to throw his hat in the ring, he called on Graham to help mobilize religious support. Graham delivered.

[So, Franklin is continuing his father’s legacy?!]

In 1954, Congress added the words “one nation under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, and the following year Eisenhower signed into law the addition of “In God We Trust” to the nation’s currency. (35)

Communism was “the greatest enemy we have ever known,” and only evangelical Christianity could provide the spiritual resources to combat it. (35)

Eisenhower presided over the vast expansion of America’s military-industrial complex, and in his farewell address, he made the connection explicit: a strong military would keep Americans free to worship their God. (35)

As late as 1952, the NAE had joined mainline groups in denouncing the nation’s peacetime militarization, but by the end of the decade, the conflation of “God and country,” and growing reliance on military might to protect both, meant that Christian nationalism–and evangelicalism itself–would take on a decidedly militaristic bent. (36)

In various ways, each of these disruptions challenged the authority of white men. In the 1960s and 1970s, then, conservative evangelicals would be drawn to a nostalgic, rugged masculinity as they looked to reestablish white patriarchal authority in its many guises. Over time, the defense of patriarchal authority in its many guises. Over time, the defense of patriarchy and a growing embrace of militant masculinity would come to define both substance and symbol of evangelical cultural and political values. (37)

cf. Civil Rights Act of 1964; Barry Goldwater; Fred Schwarz; Marion Miller

cf. Roy Rogers; Dale Evans, Pat Boone; General Edwin Walker; Billy James Hargis; Pastor Bob Wells; Walter Knott

Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue! – Goldwater

George McGovern; Wallace Henley; Bill Bright; Explo ’72; Jim Wallis; Tom Skinner; Larry Norma; Johnny Cash; Kris Kristofferson

When news of the scandal broke and the extent of Nixon’s corruption (and Colson’s role in the cover-up) was revealed, Graham came to regret his unabashed foray into partisan politics. It was a lesson that most other evangelicals refused to abide. (48)

According to fundamentalist leader Carl McIntire, “the infallible Bible…gives men the right to participate in such conflicts” and the knowledge that God was on their side; believers felled in battle would be “received into the highest Heaven.” (49)

To Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell, the US soldier in Vietnam remained “a living testimony” to Christianity, and to “old fashioned patriotism.” A defender of “Americanism,” the American soldier was “a champion for Christ.” (49)

| When confronted with undeniable evidence of American brutality, evangelicals could always fall back on the concept of human depravity. With sin lurking in every human heart, violence was inevitable, and only Jesus was the answer. When the young army lieutenant William Calley faced trial for his role in the murder of some five hundred Vietnamese men, women, and children in what came to be known as the My Lai massacre, Billy Graham remarked that he had “never heard of a war where innocent people are not killed.” He told, too, of “horrible stories” he’d heard from m missionaries of “sadistic murders by the Vietcong,” and he reminded Americans that Vietnamese women and children had planted booby traps that mutilated American soldiers. His moral reflection in the pages of the New York Times was remarkably banal: “We have all had our Mylais in one way or another, perhaps not (49) with guns, but we have hurt others with a thoughtless word, an arrogant act or a selfish deed.” (50)

In 1969, Graham sent a thirteen-page letter to President Nixon–a letter only declassified twenty years later–offering an array of policy scenarios, some of which clearly abandoned Christian just-war theory and the Geneva Conventions.

The Vietnam War was pivotal to the formation of an emerging evangelical identity. For many Americans who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, Vietnam demolished myths of American greatness and goodness. American power came to be viewed with suspicion, if not revulsion, and a pervasive antimilitarism took hold. Evangelicals, however, drew the opposite lesson: it was the absence of American power that led to catastrophe. Evangelical support for the war seemed to grow in direct relation to escalating doubts among the rest of the public. After the Tet Offensive in the summer of 1968, a poll revealed support for continued bombing an increase in US military intervention “among 97 percent of Southern Baptists, 91 percent of independent fundamentalists, and 70 percent of Missouri Synod Lutherans; only 2 percent of Southern Baptists and 3 percent of fundamentalists favored a negotiated withdrawal.” Aware of their outlier status, many evangelicals understood themselves to be a faithful remnant, America’s last great hope. With the fate of the nation hanging in the balance, conservative evangelicals “assumed the role of church militant.” (50)

| The war was a watershed moment for American Christians overall. As the established power of the Protestant mainline eroded in step with their critique of government policy, evangelicals enhanced (50) their own influence by backing the policies of Johnson and Nixon. Moreover, by affirming the war and the men who fought it, evangelicals gained favor and status within the military. This partnership was acknowledged ceremonially in 1972, when West Point conferred its Sylvanus Thayer Award–an award for a citizen who exhibits the ideals of “Duty, Honor, Country”–upon Billy Graham. (51)

Evangelist Billy Graham (center) receives a ceremonial sword from Cadet Robert Van Antwerp (left) during ceremonies May 4, 1972 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York where Graham received the Sylvanus Thayer Award for outstanding service to the nation. At right is Lt. Gen. William A. Knowlton, superintendent of the Academy.

| Still, there remained within evangelicalism a small contingent of outspoken critics. (cf. “Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern (1973),”) (51)

For evangelicals, the problem of American manhood was at its heart a religious one, properly addressed within the Christian family. (52)

cf. Jack Hyles, How to Rear Children

It was up to Christian parents to rear a new generation of men, and to this end they should make boys “play with boys an with boys’ toys and games,” with “guns, cars, baseballs, basketballs, and footballs.” Boys who engaged in “feminine activities,” he warned, often ended up as “homosexuals.” A boy must be taught to fight, to “be rugged enough” to defend his home and those he loved. Hyles bought his own son a pair of boxing gloves when he was five, an air rifle at thirteen, and a .22 at fifteen. When a neighbor boy insulted Hyles’s daughter, he encouraged his son to “let him have it” and walked away as his son beat the boy bloody. Such violence was sanctified: “God pity this weak-kneed generation which stands for nothing, fights for nothing, and dies for nothing.” (53)

As religious leaders like Hyles championed a militant application of patriarchal authority, other conservatives, too, embraced a nostalgic vision of aggressive, even violent masculinity. In this way, militant masculinity linked religious and secular conservatism. In time, the two would become difficult to distinguish. (54)

If an evangelical could be defined as anyone who liked Billy Graham, by the 1970s a conservative might well be defined as anyone who loved John Wayne. (54)

…the war heroes Wayne played left recruits ill-prepared for the realities of war. Onscreen, good triumphed over evil, and the lines between the two were clearly drawn. War was a place where boys became men and men became heroes, where America was a force for good, new recruits soon learned that real war fell far short of this ideal. Reared on a false narrative of wartime heroism, many men were haunted by the sense that they somehow failed to measure up. (56)

…Wayne’s masculinity was unapologetically imperialist. All of Wayne’s greatest hits involved valiant white men battling (and usually subduing) nonwhite populations–the Japanese, Native Americans, or Mexicans. Like Teddy Roosevelt, Wayne’s rugged masculinity was realized through violence, and it was a distinctly white male ideal. (56)

With a lot blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightly so. But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people. – John Wayne, 1971 interview in Playboy

To many conservatives, including evangelicals, Wayne personified “a tone of life” that needed to be recovered if the country was to reverse course “from the masochistic tailspin of this prideless age.” He modeled a heroic American manhood that rallied the good against evil; took pride in the red, white, and blue; and wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty. … At (58) a time of social upheaval, Wayne modeled masculine strength, aggression, and redemptive violence. (59)

FEAR HAD BEEN AT THE HEART of evangelical postwar politics–a fear of godless communism and a fear that immorality would leave Americans defenseless. What changed by the 1960s was evangelicals’ sense of their own power. Between the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the 1960s, evangelicals had become more and more confident that they had a providential role to play in strengthening American defenses and upholding American faithfulness. The events of the 1960s, however, and the realization that the larger culture seemed to scorn what they had to offer, undercut their newfound confidence. Among evangelicals, a rhetoric of fear would persist, though it would be aimed at internal threats as much as external ones. Instrumental to their efforts to reclaim power, this rhetoric of fear would continue to bolster the role of the heroic masculine protector. There might be a place for the softer virtues, but the perilous times necessitated ruthless power. In the words of Baptist scholar Alan Bean, (59)

The unspoken mantra of post-war evangelicalism was simple: Jesus can save your soul; but John Wayne will save your ass. [Jesus and John Wayne: Must we choose? by Alan Bean, Baptist News Global, October 31, 2016]

[via: It is impossible not to consider the cultural context in which all of this arises. As with so much human phenomena, the diverse set of factors is astonishing, and needs to be considered carefully; moralistic politics, militaristic mythologies, political fears and ambitions, a compromise of principles, and fear and power.]

Chapter 3

cf. Marabel Morgan

The source of women’s marital woes, she discovered, wasn’t male chauvinism, inequality of the sexes, or women’s untapped potential. The problem was women’s sullen resistance to their designated role. To achieve marital bliss, a wife needed to devote herself wholly to her husband and give him the honor he was due. (60)

The Total Woman … would become the best-selling nonfiction book of 1974. Eventually America’s housewives would consume more than ten million copies.

Morgan’s advice had a religious foundation: “The biblical remedy for marital conflict” was the submission of wives to husbands. It was God’s plan for women to be under a husband’s rule. But Morgan mostly drew on her own experience, particularly when it came to questions of inti-(61)macy, a topic about which she had much to say. To begin with, it was important for women to keep up their “curb appeal,” to “look and smell delicious,” to be “feminine, soft, and touchable,” not “dumpy, stringy, or exhausted”–at least if they wanted husbands to come home to them. But that was just the beginning. To keep a husband’s interest, Morgan was a strong believer in the power of costumes in the bedroom (or kitchen, living room, or backyard hammock), so that when a husband opened the front door each night it was “opening a surprise package.” One day a “smoldering sexpot,” another “an all-American fresh beauty,” a pixie, a pirate, “a cow-girl or a show girl.” (62)

cf. Anita Bryant

Within evangelicalism itself, this activism is often depicted as an expression of long-standing opposition to same-sex relationships triggered by the gay rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, but the virulence with which conservative Christians opposed gay rights was rooted in the cultural and political significance they placed on the reassertion of distinct gender roles during those decades. Same-sex relationships challenged the most basic assumptions of the evangelical worldview. (63)

[via: This is why most people don’t understand the phrase “attack on marriage.” They’re not talking about their marriage, but the institution which is connected to the broader worldview upon which their entire lives are built.]

The Total Woman offered Christians a model of femininity, but it also presented, along the way, a model of masculinity. To be a man was to have a fragile ego and a vigorous libido. Men were entitled to lead, to rule, and to have their needs met–all their needs, on their terms. Morgan’s version of femininity hinges on this view of masculinity. IT’s not difficult to see what part of this equation appealed to men, but Morgan’s primary audience was women. What attracted millions of women to The Total WOman? (64)

| Morgan’s message appealed to women invested in defending “traditional womanhood” against the feminist challenge. (64)

cf. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, 1963

Making yourself sexually available to your husband seven nights in a row, praising his whiskers, calling him at work to tell him you craved his body–none of this came easy for many women. But thousands if not millions deemed it an easier path than the one offered by women’s “liberation.” For many housewives, the new opportunities feminism promised were not opportunities at all. To those who had few employable skills and no means or desire to escape the confines of their homes, feminism seemed to denigrate their very identity and threaten their already precarious existence. It was better to play the cards they were dealt. (64)

| Women who chose “traditional womanhood” didn’t always do so because they wanted an easier path, however; many believed it to be the better path. (64)

cf. Elsabeth Elliot, the widow of Jim Elliot; Phyllis Schalfly

Originally proposed in the 1920s, the text of the [Equal Rights] amendment was simple: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” (67)

In her February 1972 newsletter, Schlafly outlined her issues with the ERA. To begin with, she insisted that the very notion of women’s oppression was ludicrous. Of all people who had ever lived, no one had enjoyed more privilege than the American woman. Beyond that, no legislation could erase the fact that men and women were different: women had babies and men didn’t. Those who didn’t like this fact should take up their complaint with God himself. In light of this God-given difference, “Judeo-Christian” society had developed laws and customs requiring men to carry out their duties to protect and provide for women. Women’s rights, then–their rights to have babies and to be protected–were achieved through the family structure and ensured through men’s chivalry. (67)

The very language that critics of the ERA employed mirrored that used by segregationists. They spoke not of “forced” busing but of “forced” women, and they coined the term “desexegration.” Racial anxieties also surfaced in their rhetoric around “the potty issue.” Schools and public facilities had recently been integrated, and now the ERA threatened to turn public restrooms into unisex spaces. This was intolerable. (71)

This blending of racism and the perceived sexual vulnerability of white women had a long history in the South, even if historical evidence irrefutably demonstrates that it was black women who had reason to fear white men’s sexual aggression, not the other way around. But with the civil rights movement ending legal separation by race, white fears of imagined black male aggression reached a fevered pitch. That anti-ERA rhetoric focusing on the vulnerability of women found expression in racist terms is not altogether surprising. White men had long positioned themselves as protectors of white womanhood–a tradition that cultivated male bravado, and one that could easily spill over into racial aggression. Opponents’ fixation on unisex bathrooms caught many feminists off guard, but it pointed to deeper social anxieties that this new movement for “equal rights” was tapping into. It also prefigured the furor on the Right, and the evangelical Right in particular, over transgender people and bathrooms in our own time. (72)

It’s hard to overstate Schlafly’s significance in marshalling the forces of the Religious Right. Years before James Dobson or Jerry Falwell entered the political fray, Phyllis Schlafly helped unify white Christians around a rigid and deeply conservative vision of family and nation. Although her star faded by the end of the century, it wasn’t because her influence had waned. By that time, her ideas had come to define the Republican Party, and much of American evangelicalism. If she seemed superfluous, it was only because what she was saying had become the lingua franca among American conservatives. (73)

Chapter 4

cf. Bill Gothard; the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (later Institute in Basic Life Principles); Rousas John Rushdoony

For Rushdoony and his devotees, freedom was found not in individual autonomy, but in proper submission to authority, and he believed that God-ordained authorities in each sphere of life–family, church, and government–should function without outside interference. (75)

cf. James Dobson; Dr. Benjamin Spock

Whereas Dr. Spock promoted a nurturing approach to parenthood, advising parents to trust their instincts and treat their children with affection and leniency, Dobson saw children as naturally sinful creatures, inclined toward defiance and rebellion. He may also have been inspired by his own childhood to believe that seemingly innocent children required stern discipline to keep them on the straight and narrow. (79)

In 1973, Dobson resigned from the American Psychological Association after it removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. (81)

In 1971, Congress passed the bipartisan Comprehensive Child Development Bill with the purpose of establishing a national day-care system to help working parents. It was only thanks to Pat Buchanan, a conservative Catholic White House aide who denounced the plan as one that would bring about “the Sovietization of American children,” that Nixon vetoed the Bill. Conservatives saw the legislation both as a socialist scheme to replace parents with the federal government and as an attack on American motherhood. (82)

[via: In other words, this has been going on for a long time.]

But perhaps the most profound difference between men and women, according to Dobson, was their source of self-esteem: “Men derive self-esteem by being respected; women feel worthy when they are loved.” Five years later, in his book Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives, he expanded on this theme. Echoing Marabel Morgan he explained that because of a man’s fragile ego and “enormous need to be respected,” together with a woman’s vulnerability and need to be loved, it was “a mistake to tamper with the time-honored relationship of husband as loving protector and wife as recipient of that protection.” (83)

That a child psychologist, not a pastor or evangelist, would in [Richard] Land’s opinion surpass Graham’s influence testifies to changes within evangelicalism itself. As gender and “family values” moved to the center of evangelical identity, a man who dispensed advice on kids’ chores, potty training, and teenage sex ed could achieve celebrity status formerly reserved for pastors and evangelists. (86)

For both Dobson and Gothard, the problems of the modern fam-(86)ily, and of society writ large, could be traced to the erosion of patriarchal power. Within both separatist and “respectable” wings of modern evangelicalism, then, a shared defense of patriarchy contributed to an emerging cultural identity, and to a growing commitment to political activism. Over time, this alliance would begin to dictate the boundaries of evangelicalism itself. (87)

Chapter 5

AS EVANGELICALS BEGAN TO MOBILIZE AS A partisan political force, they did so by rallying to defend “family values.” But family values politics was never about protecting the well-being of families generally. Fundamentally, evangelical “family values” entailed the reassertion of patriarchal authority. At its most basic level, family values politics was about sex and power. (88)

cf. Tim LaHaye & Left Behind books

The hero is a man by the name of Rayford Steele, husband to faithful wife Irene. (89)

[via: “Steel” and “Peace.”]

cf. How to be Happy though Married; Billy James Hargis; “Is the School House the Proper Place to Teach Raw Sex?The Act of Marriage

And here the LaHayes confronted a conundrum. What happens when you believe that men have voracious sexual appetites, that their very ability to lead their families and their nation is linked to the satisfaction of those appetites, but wives have been taught from childhood that their sexuality must be restrained, controlled, suppressed? What happens when good Christian wives have little sexual knowledge and little apparent desire? When they are filled with guilt and an overbearing sense of modesty? (91)

For the LaHayes, women’s subordination was theological, social, and sexual: “The very nature of the act of marriage involves feminine surrender.” (92)

Lurking in the heart of every girl (even when she is grown up) is the image of prince charming on his white horse coming to wake up the beautiful princess with her first kiss of love.

cf. The Spirit-Controlled Woman (1976); The Unhappy Gays: What Everyone Should Know about Homosexuality (1978); The Battle for the Mind (1980); The Battle for the Family (1981); The Battle for the Public Schools (1982); Faith in Our Founding Fathers (1987); Raising Sexually Pure Kids (1993)

Like many other leaders in the Religious Right, LaHaye was inspired by Christian Reconstructionism. … Premillennialists tended to see America, like any other nation, as doomed to destruction. Reconstructionists, on the other hand, were postmillennialists who believed Christians needed to establish the Kingdom of God on earth by bringing all things under the authority or dominion of Christ before Christ returned. … In Adopting Reconstructionist teachings piecemeal, premillennialists patched over a long-standing division within conservative Protestantism. Such quibbles apparently paled in comparison to what they held in common–a desire to reclaim the culture for Christ by reasserting patriarchal authority and waging battle against encroaching secular humanism, in all its guises. (94)

cf. Council for National Policy, founded by LaHaye, 1981; Jerry Falwell; Moral Majority

Defending the family was the linchpin of Falwell’s ideology. God had created families for a purpose: families were central to procreation, and, properly structured around patriarchal authority, families were also God’s mechanism for controlling and “containing” the earth. But the family was in peril. Protecting the family required moral revival, but even more importantly, a revitalized military. (97)

In the 1960s, [Falwell] had preached against Christian political engagement. (98)

We are not told to wage war against bootleggers, liquor stores, gamblers, murderers, prostitutes, racketeers, prejudiced persons or institutions, or any other existing evil as such,… The gospel does not clean up the outside but rather regenerates the inside.

If this apolitical rhetoric seems odd coming from the founder of the Moral Majority, consider that Falwell addressed his earlier denouncement of Christian political activism to “Ministers and Marchers”–in other words, to Christian pastors active in the civil rights movement. (98)

Fallwell’s couldn’t stomach “effeminate” depictions of Christ as a delicate man with “long hair and flowing robes.” (99)

[via: LOL]

For members who had relocated from Appalachia, Falwell’s militaristic brand of Christianity dovetailed nicely with long-held traditions of masculine honor and violence. Falwell’s militancy promised protection, from enemies within and without. In this way, Falwell’s authority depended on maintaining a sense of vulnerability among his followers. This was achieved through a sense of vulnerability among his followers. This was achieved through the continual fabrication of new enemies. Danger, discrimination, and disparagement lurked around every corner. Malevolent forces aligned against true believers. Outsiders were likely to be enemies. Threats of a spiritual and cultural nature required a militant Christianity; threats to the nation required unrestrained militarism. (100)

IN THE SUMMER OF 1980… Thinking that conservatives and liberals might come together in a common cause, President Carter organized a White House Conference on Families. Things didn’t go as planned. (100)

| Well before the conference, the fault lines were impossible to ignore. (100)

Frustrated, conservatives denounced what they saw as a liberal scheme to hijack the conversation. Fuming that conference organizers had excluded conservatives’ issues–including banning abortion, defending school prayer, and opposing gay rights–from their final recommendations, conservative delegates walked out of the official conference in protest. The next month, they organized their own counter-conference in Long Beach, California, an event that united the forces of the pro-family Religious Right. Dobson, Schlafly, Falwell, and the LaHayes all spoke, rallying the troops. The timing was strategic. With the 1980 election weeks away, they were united in their efforts to unseat Carter. (101)

For American evangelicals who had placed patriarchal power at the heart of their cultural and political identity, Carter’s wimp factor was particularly infuriating, and their sense of betrayal acute. After all, Carter was supposed to be one of them… Yet it was clear that he was not one of them on the issues that mattered most. For the strong, masculine leadership the country so urgently required, they would need to look elsewhere. (102)

Chapter 6

I know that you can’t endorse me. But I want you to know that I endorse you, and your program. – Ronald Reagan, August 1980

In Ronald Reagan, the Religious Right had found their leader. (103)

What had drawn Reagan to the Republican Party were the same things that had drawn evangelicals: a mix of anticommunism, Christian nationalism, and nostalgia for a mythical American past. (104)

Reagan didn’t just speak the language of the Right, he looked the part. In contrast to Carter, Reagan emanated a firm, masculine strength. Fresh off his California ranch, he looked to be a real cowboy–and, thanks to his films, a war hero. (104)

To conservative evangelicals, Reagan was a godsend. In the face of Carter’s “wimp factor,” Reagan projected the rugged, masculine leadership they believed the country so desperately needed. (It was much easier to chalk up Carter’s failures to deficient masculinity than to blame US policy stretching back decades.) (106)

[via: The parenthetical statement above should be highlighted as pointing to a more significant theme.]

Reagan benefited from the southern strategy that his Republican predecessors had pursued. Since the 1950s, white southerners had been abandoning the Democratic Party, and Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Acts accelerated this process. (106)

By the 1980s, then, the Democratic Party had become the party of the liberals, African Americans, and feminists, and the Republican Party the party of conservatives, traditionalists, and segregationists. (107)

Accounts of the battles over the SBC commonly focus on the question of biblical inerrancy, but the battle over inerrancy was in part a proxy fight over gender.“Evangelical feminism” had been making inroads in Southern Baptist circles, and growing numbers of Baptist women had begun challenging male headship and claiming leadership positions; between 1975 and 1985, the number of women ordained in the SBC increased significantly. … Conservatives, however, insisted on a “populist hermeneutic,” a method privileging “the simplest, most direct interpretations of scripture.” For conservatives, this wasn’t just the right method, it was also the masculine one. (108)

The issue of inerrancy did rally conservatives, but when it turned out that large numbers of Southern Baptists–even denominational officials–lacked any real theological prowess and were in fact functionally atheological, concerns over inerrancy gave way to a newly politicized commitment to female submission and to related culture wars issues. (109)

Mr. and Mrs. Baptist may not be able to understand or adjudicate the issue of biblical inerrancy when it comes down to nuances, and language, and terminology. But if you believe abortion should be legal, that’s all they need to know… – Al Mohler

The same went for “homosexual marriage.” Inerrancy mattered because of its connection to cultural and political issues. It was in their efforts to bolster patriarchal authority that Southern Baptists united with evangelicals across the nation, and the alliances drew them into the larger evangelical world. Within a generation, Southern Baptists began to place their “evangelical” identity over their identity as Southern Baptists. Patriarchy was at the heart of this new sense of themselves. (109)

Oliver North had become a hero of the Christian Right. The affinities were clear. Conservatives in the SBC had skirted conventions and eschewed niceties in order to wrest control of the denomination, just as North had skirted the rule of law in order to pursue a greater good. For both, the ends justified the means. But it wasn’t just tactics that united fellow renegades. Like North, conservative evangelicals defined the greater good in terms of Christian nationalism. It was this conflation of God and country that heroic Christian men would advance zealously, and by any means necessary, with their resurgent religious and political power. (117)

Chapter 7

Jerry Falwell led the way in lionizing North. In the spring of 1988, he had started a national petition drive to pardon North, and in May of that year he welcomed North to Liberty University as the school’s commencement speaker. When North arrived on campus, just one day after retiring from the military, Falwell compared him to Jesus. Reminding his audience that “we serve a savior who was (118) indicted nad convicted and crucified,” Falwell Christened North “a true American hero.” (119)

Other conservative evangelical organizations also participated in the “Olliemania.” For American evangelicals, Ollie North was the perfect hero at the perfect time. (119)

cf. William Calley; William F. Buckley Jr.; Lt. Col. John S. Grindals

As one of his friends explained, “To Ollie, religion, flag and family are all part of the same makeup.” (122)

cf. William Broomfield; George Mitchell; Richard Lee

Part of politics is having the right friends, but an important part of politics is having the right enemies. – Ralph Reed

…pastor Edwin Louis Cole, a man widely considered to be the “father of the Christian men’s movement.” (124)

In 1979, [Cole] founded the Christian Men’s Network, and not long after he diagnosed a catastrophic condition plaguing the nation. An “anti-hero syndrome” had “eliminated our heroes and left us bereft of role models as patriotic examples.” (124)

cf. Maximized Manhood

Cole had no use for “sissified” portraits of Jesus that failed to reveal his true character. “Christlikeness and manhood are synonymous,” he insisted, and to be Christlike, to be a man, required “a certain ruthlessness.” (125)

“I like a man’s man. … I don’t like the pussyfooting pipsqueak who tippy toe through the tulips”

Women, children, churches, and nations all needed masculine decision makers; America was great only when its men were great. Tragically, however, a pernicious anti-hero syndrome plagued the nation. (125)

The canonization of Oliver North can be understood against this backdrop. Robert Grant, head of both the Christian Voice and the American Freedom Coalition, acknowledged that rallying around North had “provided a financial shot in the arm to organizations that had seen contributions plunge in the wake of the televangelist sex-and-money scandals.” (128)

Evangelicals revered North in part because he seemed so exceptional, a throwback to an earlier era when things were right with the world, an antidote to unscrupulous celebrities who were perhaps the (128) inevitable products of a consumer-driven faith. … At a time when religious leaders lacked the heroism that was so urgently needed, evangelicals found that heroism in a place where virtue and discipline still prevailed: the United States military. (129)

[General John A. Wickham Jr.] arranged for the distribution of Dobson’s Where’s Dad? video throughout the army; all 780,000 active-duty soldiers were expected to view the film, and it served as the “building block” for the army’s entire “Family Action Plan.” (130)

Folks, if America is going to survive, it will be because husbands and fathers begin to put their families at the highest level of priorities and reserve something of their time, effort and energy for leadership within their own homes. – Dobson

The readiness of our Army is directly related to the strength of our families. The stronger the family, the stronger the Army, because strong families improve our combat readiness. – Wickham

HAVING EMBRACED THE MILITARY, evangelicals would find it difficult to articulate a critique of militarism. If the military was a source of virtue, war, too, attained a moral bearing–even preemptive war. (131)

cf. One Nation Under God by Rus Walton

…even as the Cold War came to an anticlimactic end, the crusade theory of warfare endured. A flexible guide to combat, it could be employed to justify aggression against threats both foreign and domestic. Among Christian nationalists, it could effectively sanctify any engagement where the United States resorted to force. On the home front, it could (132) validate questionable or even ruthless tactics wielded in defense of Christian America. In heroic pursuits of a higher good, the ends would justify the means. Conservative evangelicals knew they were called to fight the Lord’s battle. It just wasn’t entirely clear what that battle would be. (133)

Chapter 8

In the wake of the 1980 White House Conference, James Dobson had established the Family Research Council, a conservative policy research organization to support “pro-family” policies.

In 198[1], Tim LaHaye…founded his secretive Council for National Policy. (134)

In 1986, Falwell, LaHaye, Kennedy, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and Bill Bright joined with other leaders of the Christian Right to form the Religious Coalition for a Moral Defense Policy. (135)

Campaigning to “Restore the Greatness of America Through Moral Strength,” Robertson placed foreign policy front and center. (136)

…in the summer of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. In response, the United States forged an international coalition to end the Iraqi occupation. Unlike Catholic bishops and Protestant mainline clergy, most evangelicals enthusiastically supported Operation Desert Storm. (137)

cf. the Christian Coalition; The New World Order by Pat Robertson; The Late Great Planet Earth (1970) by Hal Lindsey

[Pat] Buchanan didn’t unseat Bush, but he did shift the Republican Party farther to the Right. The Cold War might have ended, but at the opening night of the Republican National Convention, Buchanan declared that a different sort of war had begun: “There is a religious war going on in this country…a cultural war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. This war is for the soul of America.” (139)

If Bush had been a disappointment for American evangelicals, Bill Clinton appeared to be a disaster. (139)

DESPITE HIS SOUTHERN and Baptist credentials, Clinton was anathema to the Religious Right. A draft dodger, a marijuana smoker, and a Democrat, he represented everything they despised about the 1960s. And then there was his wife. She had advocated for civil rights and children’s rights and had campaigned for the antiwar liberal Goerge McGovern and the masculinity-challenged Jimmy Carter. (139) Even worse, as a feminist and a career woman, Hillary Rodham had provoked the ire of religious conservatives when she refused to take her husband’s name. … On the campaign trail in 1992, her feminism became a point of contention when, in response to the insinuation that her law firm had received favors from her husband when he was governor, she retorted: “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas.” The backlash was swift, and brutal. “If I ever entertained the idea of voting for Bill Clinton,” one woman wrote in a letter to Time magazine, “the smug bitchiness of his wife’s comment has nipped that notion in the bud.” … Since the 1970s, the identity of housewives had become highly politicized, and Hillary Rodham Clinton triggered fear, resentment, and disdain among many conservative women, some of whom felt devalued by her very existence. (140)

The Clinton White House provided fresh fodder for conservative outrage on a daily basis. In addition to the constant din of corruption allegations, of more immediate concern was the First Lady’s ill-fated attempt to reform American health care. Not only did this smack of socialism as far as conservatives were concerned, but the Christian Coalition insisted that health-care reform concealed a “radical social agenda,” ostensibly by promoting abortion, gay rights, and sex education. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. (140)

| “The New World Order Wants Your Children,” Phillis Schlafly warned. When Hillary Clinton published It Takes a Village,…Schlafly and other conservatives were adamant that it did not take a village to raise a child. They saw failed efforts to secure federal day-care legislation and the work of the Children’s Defense Fund and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as thinly veiled attempts to infringe on parental rights. Parents didn’t want a village “butting in.” If you allow the village to “usurp your parental authority, you can be sure that the village will teach your children behaviors you don’t want them to learn.” … By advancing the absurdity of “children’s rights,” the Clinton administration, and the UN, threatened parental authority, an orderly society, and American sovereignty. (141)

cf. Tailhook incident, 1991; Kelly Flinn; Lewinsky affair

…Schlafly lashed out: (142) “At stake is whether the White House will become a public relations vehicle for lying and polling, akin to a television show, or will remain a platform for the principled articulation of policies and values that Americans respect.” Clinton had “converted the once-serious offense of lying to the American public into a daily rite,” extinguishing all reverence for the presidency. The issue wasn’t really “what Bill Clinton did or didn’t do with Paula or Gennifer or Monica,” but “whether we are going to allow the president to get by with flouting the law and lying about it on television, while hiding behind his popularity in the polls.” If this precedent prevailed, Schlafly prophesied, “Americans can look forward to a succession of TV charlatans and professional liars occupying the White House. [Schalfly, “Will We Allow Clinton to Redefine the Presidency?” Eagle Forum, February 11, 1998.] (143)

Character DOES matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. – [James Dobson, “An Evangelical Response to Bill Clinton,” 1998, in The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945, ed. Paul Harvey and Philip Goff (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 303-7.]

We care about the conduct of our leaders, and we will not rest until we have leaders of good moral character. – Ralph Reed

The unfaithful, draft-dodging, morally deficient president embodied all that was wrong with America. Yet, to evangelicals’ consternation, Clinton’s sexual misconduct seemed to enhance his standing in the eyes of many Americans. Since the 1970s, conservatives had been tarring liberal men as wimps, deficient in masculine leadership qualities. As the details of the Lewinsky scandal came to light, “Bill Clinton’s image went from that of the neutered househusband of an emasculating harridan to that of a swaggering stud-muffin whose untrammeled lust for sexual conquest imperiled all females in his orbit,” according to clinical psychologist Stephen Ducat. Perhaps, “behind the tongue-clucking disapprobation of some male commentators” there lurked “a thinly disguised envy.” Clinton’s job rating received a significant boost as the scandal unfolded–”the formerly feminized president had been resurrected as a phallic leader.” (144)

In the 1980s, for example, Dobson had recommended a healthy skepticism toward certain allegations of domestic violence. In Love Must Be Tough (1983), he warned of women who “deliberately ‘baited'”their husbands into hitting them, “verbally antagoniz[ing]” them until they got “the prize” they sought: a bruise they could parade before “neighbors, friends, and the law” to gain a “moral advantage,” and perhaps also justify an otherwise unbiblical escape from marriage (144) through divorce. This argument remained unchanged in his 1996 edition of the book. (145)

cf. 1987 repeal of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine …ushered in an era of talk radio that would change the tenor of American political conversation. (147)

cf. Katz, Man Enough

cf. Rush Limbaugh; Bill O’Reilly

In 1996, the NAE issued a “Statement of Conscience”

…evangelicals had become “more interested in making a difference than in making a statement.” (149)

Tensions between militant and more forward-looking expressions that characterized evangelicalism in the 1990s found expression in evangelical discussions of Christian manhood as well. Here, too, old certainties did not necessarily hold sway. Without the threat of godless communism to justify militant Christianity, many evangelical men began to express uncertainty about what manhood in fact required. Times had changed, it seemed. Perhaps masculinity needed to change as well. (149)

Chapter 9

cf. Promise Keepers; Bill McCartney; Patricia Ireland; The Coming Revival, by Bill Bright; Mark DeMoss; Ed Cole, author of Maximized Manhood; Charles Colson; Beverly LaHaye’s Concerned Women for America; Colorado for Family Values; Gary Oliver’s Real Men Have Feelings Too (1993)

By the 1990s, the male breadwinner economy was largely a thing of the past. Since the 1960s, male blue-collar work such as construction, manufacturing, and agriculture had been in decline, shrinking from approximately half of the workforce to less than 30 percent at the end of the 1990s. Over that same period, sectors that employed pink- and white-collar women–areas such as health care, retail, education, finance, and food service–expanded to well over half of the workforce; by 1994, 75 percent of working-age women worked for pay. (153)

cf. Tony Evans, Seven Promises of  Promise Keeper; Holly Phillips, wife of Randy Phillips

By promising inti-(154)macy in exchange for power, servant leadership passed off authority as humility, ensuring that patriarchal authority would endure even in the midst of changing times. (155)

In 1954 evangelicals founded the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,… (156)

Upon visiting Thomas Road, Frances FitzGerald remarked that “sports, the oldest of Anglo-Saxon prescriptions for the sublimation of male violence and male sexual energies, might stand as a metaphor for the whole social enterprise of the church.” In Falwell’s words, “God wants you to be a champion.” (156)

It was when the evangelical men’s movement elevated sports as the preferred metaphor for Christian manhood that “racial reconciliation” emerged as a guiding purpose. … Framing racism as a personal failing, at times even as a mutual problem, PK speakers routinely failed to address structural inequalities. In this way, the pursuit of racial reconciliation could end up serving as a ritual of self-redemption, absolving white men of complicity and justifying the continuation of white patriarchy in the home and the nation. Several African American pastors critiqued this unwillingness to address deeper structural questions and called out the organization for racial tokenism. Yet, far more than other evangelical organizations, Promise Keepers provided a platform for African American voices. Black pastors like Tony Evans, Wellington Boone, and E. V. Hill, and sports stars like Reggie White frequently appeared at PK rallies. (157)

Go the Distance: The Making of a Promise Keeper [1996]…included chapters by Charles Colson, Bill McCartney, Stu Weber, and other white evangelicals, but it also included an unsparing critique of white Christianity penned by African American pastor and civil rights activist John Perkins. (157)

By the end of the decade, the emotional timbre of the events had started to feel too “soft.” (158)

cf. Gordon Dalbey’s Healing the Masculine Soul; Robert Bly; Carl Jung; Leanne Payne’s 1986 Crisis in Masculinity

Dalbey agreed with Bly that an unbalanced masculinity had led to the nation’s “unbalanced pursuit” of the Vietnam War, but an over-correction had resulted in a different problem: Having rejected war making as a model of masculine strength, men had essentially abdicated that strength to women. (161)

Failing to present the true Jesus, it instead depicted him “as a meek and gentle milk-toast character”–a man who never could have inspired “brawny fishermen like Peter to follow him.” (161)

What if we told men up front that to join the church of Jesus Christ is…to enlist in God’s army and to place their lives on the line? This approach would be based on the warrior spirit in every man, and so would offer the greatest hope for restoring authentic Christian manhood to the Body of Christ. – Gordon Dalbey

cf. Steve Farrar’s Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family (1990); Stu Weber’s Tender Warrior: God’s Intention for a Man (1993)

Farrar and Weber both addressed the “confusion” Christian men experienced in discerning God’s will for men, and both sought to navigate a course between an overly “macho” masculinity on the one hand and a disturbingly “effeminate” one on the other. Significantly, both also opened with Vietnam combat stories. (162)

[via: I am quite struck with the influence of Vietnam on evangelical expressions.]

Boys, [Dobson] explained, were naturally aggressive due to their higher levels of testosterone; aggression was “part of being male.” (163)

Channeling Dobson and Elisabeth Elliot, Weber insisted that men and women were profoundly different. Here Weber turned to the ancient Hebrew word for man, Ish, which means “piercer,” and the Hebrew word for woman, Isha, or “pierced one,” insisting that the distinction went beyond the obvious “anatomical or sexual elements.” In this case, the physical was “a parable of the spiritual.”

[via: The etymology for the Hebrew in the paragraph above is dubious, and most certainly wrong. It is possible that the word for “female” (נקבה) means “pierced” or “orifice” but the corresponding word “male” (זכר) does not mean “piercer.” The words actually referenced “man” (איש) and “woman” (אישה) has no connection to the meaning “to pierce.”]

cf. Robert Bly, Iron John (1990)

Better to look to a real-life hero like General Norman Schwarzkopf, the “conquering commander of Desert Storm,” who wasn’t afraid to get a little misty-eyed on occasion. “Now don’t get me wrong,” Weber quickly clarified. “There is a difference between ‘tender’ and soft.” Weber wanted tender warriors, not soft males. (165)

…two parallel movements would also play key roles in shaping understandings of Christian masculinity. One was the “complementarian” theology espoused by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). The other was the sexual purity movement. (166)

| Whereas the popular arm of the evangelical men’s movement often rested on somewhat shaky theological footing, CBMW marshaled the power of conservative theologians to fashion a scriptural defense of patriarchy. (166)

cf. Wayne Grudem; John Piper; “Danvers Statement” (1989)

The Danvers Statement was a response both to an alleged “gender confusion” ushered in by the 1960s and to the “evangelical feminism” that had emerged in the 1970s. It was not, however, a call to an aggressive, militant masculinity. It dictated that a husband’s headship be humble and loving rather than domineering, and it stipulated that “husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives.” Yet in asserting female submission as the will of God, it foregrounded a biblical defense of patriarchy and gender difference that would come to serve as the bedrock of a militaristic Christian masculinity. (167)

cf. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood … was Christianity Today’s “Book of the Year” in 1992. (168)

Together with conservatives in the SB, CBMW worked to promote patriarchal authority as a nonnegotiable requirement of the orthodox Christian faith. (168)

cf. Paige Patteson; Richard Land; Randy Stinson; Al Mohler; Josh McDowell, Why Wait? What You Need to Know about the Teen Sexuality Crisis, 1987; Petra; Josh Harris; The Christian Home School, 1988; I Kissed Dating Goodbye; Elisabeth Elliot; “biblical courtship”; True Love Waits

[via: When I was a youth pastor and ran a “True Love Waits” campaign, I handed out keys to my kids to which one of them declared it “the key to my crotch!” 😂]

Rhetoric of culture wars persisted, but evangelicals’ interests had expanded to include a broader array of issues, including racial reconciliation, antitrafficking activism, and addressing the persecution of the global church. At the end of the decade, however, the more militant movement would begin to reassert itself. When it did, this resurgent militancy would become intertwined both with the sexual purity movement and with the assertion of complementarianism within evangelical circles. In time it would become clear that the combination of all three could produce toxic outcomes. (172)

Chapter 10

cf. John Eldredge, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul; Rebecca St. James, Wait for Me; Randy Stinson; Mark Mulder; James K. A. Smith; James Dobson, Bringing Up Boys; General MacArthur; Douglas Wilson, Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants; Theodore Roosevelt; Marabel Morgan

The Books by Wilson, Dobson, and Eldredge appeared in the months before September 11, 2001. When terrorists struck the United States, their call for “manly” heroes acquired a deep and widespread resonance among evangelicals. (179)

The moral certainties of the War on Terror–framed as they were by an evangelical president–put an end to any post-Cold War uncertainty among evangelicals. Not since the height of the Cold War had foreign affairs so clearly connected to domestic concerns. In fact, in the days and weeks following the attacks, many Americans turned to Cold War rhetoric and thinking as they grappled with how to respond to this new threat. Once again, America needed strong, heroic men to defend the country at home and abroad. Evangelicalism had never completely abandoned its Cold War militarism, and those who had become unsettled by the “soft patriarchy” of the 1990s men’s movement were primed for this moment. The very existence of the nation again depended on the toughness of American men, and raising young boys into strong men became elevated to a matter of national security. Instructional books already lined the shelves of Christian bookstores. (180)

As Phyllis Schlafly put it, one of the unintended consequences of the attack on the World Trade Center was “the dashing of feminist hopes to make America a gender-neutral or androgynous society.” (180)

When those two planes hit the Twin Towers on September 11, what we suddenly needed were masculine men. Feminized men don’t walk into burning buildings. But masculine men do. That’s why God created men to be masculine. – Steve Farrar, King Me

cf. Gordon Dalbey, Healing the Masculine Soul; Paul Coughlin, No More Christian Nice Guy; David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church; Ron Luce, BattleCry youth rallies; Jerry Falwell; Charles Colson; Richard Land; Charles Colson; Bill Bright; D. James Kennedy; Carl Herbster

The National Council of Churches urged the president to refrain from a preemptive strike; the Vatican warned that preemptive war would be “a crime against peace.” Conservative evangelicals begged to differ. (184)

Chapter 11

cf. Brad Stine; Paul Coughlin; Christian MMA clothing brands like “Jesus Didn’t Tap”

To be sure, singing about one’s testicles and landing blows to the head for Christ represent the more radical expressions of militant Christian masculinity, but GodMen and Xtreme Ministries only amplified trends that were becoming increasingly common in the post 9/11 era. As militant masculinity took hold across evangelicalism, it helped bind together those on the fringes of the movement with those closer to the center, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish the margins from the mainstream. (188)

cf. Michael Farris’s Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDS); Bill Gothard’s Institute of Biblical Life Principles (IBLP); Mike Huckabee; Sarah Palin; Rick Perry; Doug Phillips; Howard Phillips; Vision Forum, founded 1998; Robert Lewis Dabney: The Prophet Speaks; Theodore Roosevelt; The Letters and Lessons of Teddy Roosevelt for His Sons; Stonewall Jackson; Charles Spurgeon

Phillips believed that patriarchy and patriotism were inextricably connected, and both were God-given duties. Patriarchy was key to the success of nations, and to be “anti-patriotic” was “to be a spiritual ingrate.” (190)

cf. Christian Filmmakers Academy; Kirk Cameron; San Antonion Independent Christian Film Festival; Fireproof, 2008; Quiverfull movement

Outbreeding opponents as the first step to outvoting them, and in their reproductive capacities, women served as “domestic warriors.” (191)

cf. Duggar family’s 19 Kids and Counting; Patrick Henry College; Ned Ryun; George W. Bush; Jim Ryun; “the Family,” the secretive group (also known as “the Fellowship); National Prayer Breakfast; Jeff Sharlet; Mark Driscoll; Porn-again Christian (2008)BraveheartFight Club

…I didn’t recognize the misogyny in his theology at the time, as a stereotypical beta male, it was like an invitation to become important… By listening to men like Driscoll and Piper, young evangelical men became part of a larger movement. They were called to be heroes. – one former Driscoll fan, February 25, 2019

cf. Joe Nelms; Talladega Nights; Acts 29 network; Roger Olson; Desiring God; Ted Olsen, managing editor at Christianity Today

What was remarkable was that so many notoriously combative men could find common cause. There were certainly disagreements among leaders on a variety of topics, but they were able to smooth over these differences–including rather significant theological differences–(201) because of a common reverence for patriarchal authority. (202)

cf. Doug Wilson; Southern Slavery: As It WasBlack and Tan

[via: Here is the full document Southern Slavery: As It Was, and here is one of the excerpts to which Du Mez references one or two lines:

The Old South was a caste society, but not a compartmentalized society. There were specific roles for blacks and whites, and each “knew their place” as it were, but what is often overlooked is the high level of interaction between the races which was a common and everyday experience.

Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. The credit for this must go to the predominance of Christianity. The gospel enabled men who were distinct in nearly every way, to live and work together, to be friends and often intimates. This happened to such an extent that moderns indoctrinated on “civil rights” propaganda would be thunderstruck to know the half of it.]

cf. Evangellyfish

Over time, a common commitment to patriarchal power began to define the boundaries of the evangelical movement itself, as those who ran afoul of these orthodoxies quickly discovered. Evangelicals who offered competing visions of sexuality, gender, or the existence of hell found themselves secluded from conferences and associations, and their writings banned from popular evangelical bookstores and distribution channels. Through deliberate strategies and the power of the marketplace, the exclusion of alternative views would contribute to the radicalization of evangelicalism in post-9/11 America. (204)

Chapter 12

The entrenchment of evangelicalism in Colorado Springs coincided with the growth of the military in the region. (205)

cf. Citizen magazine; Family News in Focus; Gary Bauer; Family Research Council; Roy Moore; Tom Daschle; john Thune; Richard Viguerie; Ted Haggard and New Life Church, founded in 1984; Bill Bright; Jack Hayford; Tony Perkins; Jeff Sharlet; Mikey Weinstein; Johnny A. Weida; David Antoon; Jerry Vines; Robert E. Lee; Nathan Bedford Forrest

The academy, Antoon realized, had become “a giant Trojan horse for evangelicals to get inside the military.” (212)

cf. Major General Charles Baldwin; James Glass; Brig. Gen. Cecil Richardson; War Stories with Oliver NorthMission CompromisedA Greater Freedom: Stories of Faith from Operation Iraqi FreedomAmerican Heroes in the Fight Against Radical Islam; Chuck Holton; A More Elite SoldierStories from a Soldier’s Heart: For the Patriotic Soul; John McCain; Stu Weber; Bill Gothard; Meltdown

IN COLORADO SPRINGS, militant masculinity was entrenched within the heart of American evangelicalism. From the evangelical bastions of New Life Church and Focus on the Family, this militant faith was exported to the military itself. Meanwhile, military men were refashioning Christianity in their own image, and offering their own brand of militant evangelicalism for broader consumption. As the writings of Oliver North and Chuck Holton attest, this militant faith was often virulently Islamophobic. …for all their militant rhetoric and supreme confidence that God was on their side, evangelicals seemed curiously fearful. In twenty-first century evangelicalism, the threat of radical Islam loomed large. Yet upon closer examination, this fear appears suspect. On the part of evangelical leaders, at the very least, fear of Islam appeared to be nothing more than an attempt to drum up support for the militant faith they were hawking. (218)

Chapter 13

IN THE WAKE OF SEPTEMBER 11, ISLAM REPLACED communism as the enemy of America and all that was good, at least in the world of conservative evangelicalism. (219)

cf. NAE’s Richard Cizik; Franklin Graham; Pat Robertson; From Iraq to ArmageddonIran: The Coming CrisisSecrets of the Koran, Married to MuhammedThe Islamic InvasionNew Man, the magazine of the Promise Keepers movement, carried ads for Mike Evans’s The Final Move Beyond Iraq: The Final Solution While the World Sleeps; Caner brothers, Ergun and Emir, Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, 2002; John Ankerberg

Eventually Caner’s tales started to catch up with him. (222)

cf. Walid Shoebat; Zachariah Anani; Kamal Saleem; Abu Jihad; Yasser Arafat; Doug Howard; Khodor Shami; Koome Ministries

Trafficking in a pornography of violence, these “experts” divulged graphic stories purportedly revealing the sadistic violence of Islam, and in doing so dehumanized Muslims while goading Americans (and especially American Christians) to respond with violence of their own. (225)

cf. Why We Want to Kill You

By inciting fears of an Islamic threat, mean like Falwell, Patterson, Vines, and Dobson heightened the value of the “protection” they promised–and with it, their own power. (226)

| Not all evangelicals jumped on the anti-Muslim bandwagon. In 2007, nearly 300 Christian leaders signed the “Yale Letter,” a call for Christians and Muslims to work together for peace. (226)

SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THE MILITARY, including at the highest levels of leadership, evangelicals who had embraced a militant interpretation of their faith used their positions of power to advance their religious agenda, which they saw as wholly fused with their military mission.

cf. Lt. Gn. William G. (Jerry) Boykin; Manuel Noriega; “Black Hawk Down”; Donald Rumsfeld; Stephen Cambone; Never Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom

During the 1990s, a group of young conservative intellectuals developed a plan for how America should brandish its unrivaled military and economic power, and though they were not particularly religious, these self-described neoconservatives did have faith–an expansive faith in American power. And they had their own patron saints: Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. They believed that there was a direct connection between domestic and global issues, and, by invoking patriotism to encourage sacrifice, they shout to instill “military virtues” in the American public. For these neocons, the military embodied the nation’s highest ideals been as it unleashed violence and death, and there was no contradiction. War would provide Americans with “moral clarity.” (230)

cf. Paul Wolfowitz; Paul Bremer; Stephen Cambone; Donald Rumsfeld; Dick Cheney

Chapter 14

As an adult convert to Christianity [Barack Obama] could speak with eloquence and theological sophistication about his faith, but for many evangelicals this mattered little. For some, racial prejudice shaped their political leanings. But even for those who did not hold explicit racist convictions, their faith remained intertwined (233) with their whiteness. Although white evangelicals and black Protestants shared similar views on a number of theological and moral issues, the black Protestant tradition was suffused with a prophetic theology that clashed with white evangelicals’ Christian nationalism. (234)

cf. Reverend Jeremiah Wright

To quell the controversy, Obama gave one of the most powerful speeches of his political career. (235)

Days before the 2008 election, John Piper wrote a blog post with the title, “Why a Woman Shouldn’t Run for Vice President, but Wise People May Still Vote for Her.” Piper made clear that he still believed that “the Bible summons men to bear the burden of primary leadership, provision, and protection,” and that “the Bible does not encourage us to think of nations as blessed when women hold the reins of national authority.” But a woman could hold the highest office if her male opponent would do far more harm by “exalting a flawed pattern of womanhood.” (236)

SEVENTY-FOUR PERCENT of white evangelicals voted for the McCain/Palin ticket. But 24 percent of white evangelicals–up 4 percent from 2004–broke ranks and voted for Obama. … Obama doubled his support among white evangelicals ages eighteen to twenty-nine compared to Kerry’s in 2004, and nearly doubled his support among those ages thirty to forty-four. Scholars and pundits alike started to declare the end of the culture wars, and to look ahead to “the end of white Christian America.” The old guard was shaken.

[via: cf. The End of White Christian America by Robert P. Jones]

| But militant evangelicalism was always at its strongest with a clear enemy to fight. (238)

For Christians nationalists, casting doubt on Obama’s faith functioned in the same way as questioning the legitimacy of his citizenship. (238)

In Obama’s second term, evangelical opposition manifested around the issue of religious freedom, and for evangelicals, “religious freedom” didn’t apply equally to all faith traditions; their defense of religious freedom was linked to their defense of “Christian America” and to their conservative gender regime. (240)

cf. Kim Davis; Eric Metaxas; Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End SlaveryBonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness

[via: It strikes me, again at this point, the challenge and role of the fragile male ego in all of these developments.]

…in 2013, Phil [Robertson] denounced abortion and the hippies responsible for a movement that “lured 60 million babies out fo their mothers’ wombs.”

cf. The Duck Commander DevotionalGood Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and FowlDuck Commander Faith & Family Bible

Some evangelicals worried about the “cultural Christianity” these Louisiana good ol’ boys portrayed, but the Robertsons weren’t just “cultural Christians.” They were devout, practicing evangelicals who, in good evangelical fashion, saw their celebrity as a means of spreading their faith. But the very distinction requires scrutiny. By the early 2000s, was it even possible to separate “cultural Christianity” from a purer, more authentic form of American evangelicalism? What did it mean to be an evangelical? Did it mean upholding a set of doctrinal truths, or did it mean embracing a culture-wars application of those truths–a God-and-country religiosity that championed white rural and working-class values, one that spilled over into a denigration of outsiders and elites, and that was organized around a deep attachment to militarism and patriarchal masculinity? (246)

The warrior as a model of Christian manhood remained ubiquitous, and a militaristic view of Christian mas-(246)culinity went largely unchallenged in conservative evangelical circles. Within this genre, real-life military warriors continued to bring an aura of authenticity that mere pastors couldn’t match. (247)

cf. Jesus Was an Airborne Ranger: Find Your Purpose Following the Warrior Christ by John McDougall; The Warrior Soul by Jerry Boykin

REMINISCENT OF THE WANING YEARS of the Reagan administration, conservative evangelicals had struggled to mobilize as the George W. Bush presidency came to an end. But the Religious Right had always thrived on a sense of embattlement, and in that respect, the Obama White House was heaven-sent. Between demographic changes portending an end to “white Christian America,” the apparent erosion of loyalty among young evangelicals, and steady assaults on their conception of religious liberty, white evangelicals perceived clear and present dangers to their very existence. Or at least to their social and political power. Obama’s election had issued a warning call to evangelical leaders. Leaving nothing to chance, they made the most of the moment, working arduously to stoke further fear and resentment. By the end of Obama’s eight years in office, even as the president’s overall approval ratings had been among the highest in recent (248) presidential history, white evangelicals remained his most stalwart critics. Seventy-four percent viewed him unfavorably, compared to 44 percent of Americans generally. Perhaps more importantly, conservative evangelicals had reinvigorated their posture of embattlement. Drastic times would call for drastic measures. When 2016 came around, they were primed for the fight. They just needed the right warrior to lead the charge. (249)

Chapter 15

cf. President Obama; Hillary Clinton; John Piper; Donald J. Trump; Mike Huckabee; Ben Carson; Marco Rubio; Wayne Grudem; Ted Cruz; Antonin Scalia; Bob Vander Plaats

I would say that Ted Cruz is leading in the ‘Jerry Falwell’ wing, Marco Rubio is leading the ‘Billy Graham’ wing and Trump is leading the ‘Jimmy Swaggart’ wing. – Russell Moore

Politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division. – David Lane

cf. Randy Brinson; Jerry Falwell Jr.; Robert Jeffress; Mark DeMoss; Penny Nance; Michael Cohen; W. A. Criswell; Paige Patterson; Alan Bean; Aissa Wayne;

Donald Trump kisses John Wayne’s daughter Aissa during a news conference at the John Wayne Museum in Winterset, Iowa, January 19, 2016. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong.

cf. Denny Burk; Michael Gerson; George W. Bush; Wayne Grudem; The Conservative Case for Trump by Phyllis Schlafly; Ralph Reed; Franklin Graham; Eric Metaxas; David Brody; Robert Jeffress; John Piper; Ed Stetzer; Beth Moore; Jen Hatmaker; Julie Roys

Although evangelicals may have celebrated rural and working-class values, many were securely middle-class and made their home in suburbia. More than economic anxieties, it was a threatened loss of status–particularly racial status–that influenced the vote of white evangelicals, and whites more generally. Support for Trump was strongest among those who perceived their status to be most imperiled, those who felt whites were more discriminated against than blacks, Christians than Muslims, and men than women. In short, support for Trump was strongest among white Christian men. The election was not decided by those “left behind” economically, political scientists discovered; it was decided by dominant groups anxious about their future status. This sense of group threat proved impervious to economic arguments or policy proposals. Research discounting the role of economic hardship in predicting support for Trump reinforces earlier research into white evangelical political behavior. For evangelicals, cultural alignments dictated responses to economic circumstances, rather than the other way around. (267)

This dramatic abandonment of the whole idea of ‘value voters’ is one of the most stunning reversals in recent American political history. – Robert P. Jones

God-given testosterone came with certain side effects, but an aggressive and even reckless masculinity was precisely what was needed when dealing with the enemy. If you wanted a tamer man, castrate him. Among those who embraced this sort of militant masculinity, such character traits (268) paradoxically testified to Trumps’ fitness for the job. Some white evangelicals did end up “holding their nose” to vote for Trump, but for many, he was exactly what they had been looking for. Or at least close enough. Some stated this explicitly; for others, the affinities were apparent in the language they used to explain or excuse their support for Trump. He was strong, he wouldn’t bow to political correctness, he was their “ultimate fighting champion.” (269)

cf. Michel Bachmann

In 2016, nearly three-quarters of white evangelicals believed America had changed for the worse since the 1950s, a more pessimistic view than any other group. (271)

Chapter 16

Testosterone made men dangerous, but it also made them heroes. … In the 2010s, a number of high-profile cases revealed the darker side of the aggressive, testosterone-fueled masculine “leadership” evangelicals had embraced within their own homes, churches, and communities. (272)

History, however, makes plain that evangelicals’ tendency to dismiss or deny cases of sexual misconduct and abuse, too, was nothing new. … The frequency of these instances, and the tendency of evangelicals to diminish or dismiss cases of abuse in their own communities, suggests that evangelicals’ response to allegations of abuse in the era of Trump cannot be explained by political expediency alone. Rather, these tendencies appear to be endemic to the movement itself. (277)

The evangelical cult of masculinity links patriarchal power to masculine aggression and sexual desire; its counterpoint is a submissive feminity. A man’s sexual drive, like his testosterone, is God-given. He is the initiator, the piercer. His essential leadership capacity outside the home is bolstered by his leadership in the home, and in the bedroom. The responsibility of married women in this arrangement is clear, but implications for women extend beyond the marriage relationship. Women outside of the bonds of marriage must avoid tempting men through immodesty, or simply by being available to them, or perceived as such. Within this framework, men assign themselves the role of protector, but the protection of women and girls is contingent on their presumed purity and proper submission (277) to masculine authority. This puts female victims in impossible situations. Caught up in authoritarian settings where a premium is placed on obeying men, women and children find themselves in situations ripe for abuse of power. Yet victims are often held culpable for acts perpetrated against them; in many cases, female victims, even young girls, are accused of “seducing” their abusers or inviting abuse by failing to exhibit proper femininity. While men (and women) invested in defending patriarchal authority frequently come to the defense of perpetrators, victims are often pressured to forgive abusers and avoid involving law enforcement. Immersed in these teachings about sex and power, evangelicals are often unable to unwilling to name abuse, to believe women, to hold perpetrators accountable, and to protect and empower survivors. (278)

cf. Mike Jones; Ted Haggard; Joe White, president of Kanakuk Kamps; Pete Newman; Joe Paterno; Jerry Sandusky; C. J. Mahaney; Josh Harris; T. F. Charlton; Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God, 2004; Doug Wilson; Marabel Morgan; God, the Rod, and Your Child’s Bod; Al Mohler; Bill Gothard; Doug Phillips; Lourdes Torres-Manteufel; Steven Sitler; Jamin Wight; Bob Jones University; Michael Farris; Todd Akin; Jack Hyles; Voyle Glover, Fundamental Seduction; Dave Hyles; Jule Woodson; Andy Savage; Bill Hybels; Paige Patterson; Jerry Vines; Darrell Gilyard; Paul Pressler; Rachael Denhollander; Larry Nassar; C.J. Mahaney

EVANGELICAL LEADERS were growing increasingly alarmed by the “avalanche of sexual misconduct” allegations that showed no sign of letting up. (292)

…Russell Moore thought it prudent to point out that God was revealing that there was “no ideological safe harbor,” as it was clear that abuse occurred in egalitarian strongholds and outside the church. It wasn’t just a complementarian problem. (292)

When it came to evangelical masculinity, the ideological extreme bore a remarkable resemblance to the mainstream. In the end, Doug Wilson, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, James Dobson, Doug Phillips, and John Eldredge all preached a mutually reinforcing vision of Christian masculinity–of patriarchy and submission, sex and power. It was a vision that promised protection for women but left women without defense, one that worshiped power and turned a blind eye to justice, and one that transformed the Jesus of the Gospels into an image of their own making. Though rooted in different traditions and couched in different styles, their messages blended together to become the dominant chord in the cacophony of evangelical popular culture. And they had been right all along. The militant Christian masculinity they practiced and preached did indelibly shape both family and nation. (294)


Somewhere between Jesus and John Wayne.
A cowboy and a saint, the cross and the open range.
I try to be more like you Lord, but most days I know I ain’t!
I’m somewhere between Jesus and John Wayne.

Inspired by images of heroic white manhood, evangelicals had fashioned a savior who would lead them into the battles of their own choosing. The new, rugged Christ transformed Christian manhood, and Christianity itself. (295)

FROM THE START, evangelical masculinity has been both personal and political. In learning how to be Christian men, evangelicals also learned how to think about sex, guns, war, borders, Muslims, immigrants, the military, foreign policy, and the nation itself. (296)

Yet evangelicals who claim to uphold the authority of the Scriptures are quite clear that they do not necessarily look to the Bible to inform their views on immigration; … Evangelicals may self-identify as “Bible-believing Christians,” but evangelicalism itself entails a broader set of deeply held values communicated through symbol, ritual, and political allegiances. (297)

Despite evangelicals’ frequent claims that the Bible is the source of (297) their social and political commitments, evangelicalism must be seen as a cultural and political movement rather than as a community defined chiefly by its theology. Evangelical views on any given issue are facets of this larger cultural identity, and no number of Bible verses will dislodge the greater truths at the heart of it. (298)

WHILE DOMINANT, the evangelical cult of masculinity does not define the whole of American evangelicalism. It is largely the creation of white evangelicals. The vast majority of books on evangelical masculinity have been written by white men primarily for white men; to a significant degree, the markets for literature on black and white Christian manhood remain distinct. With few exceptions, black men, Middle Eastern men, and Hispanic men are not called to a wild, militant masculinity. Their aggression, by contrast, is seen as dangerous, a threat to the stability of home and nation. (301)

American evangelicals have also forged ties with Vladimir Putin,…

If you believe that America is God’s chosen nation, you need to fight for it and against others, [Don Jacobson] realized. But once you abandon that notion, other values begin to shift as well. Without Christian nationalism, evangelical militarism makes little sense. “Jesus makes it really clear in John 13,” Jacobson reflected. “People will know you’re my disciples if you love me”–but too many evangelicals have forgotten “where our true citizenship is.” (303)

Although the evangelical cult of masculinity stretches back decades, its emergence was never inevitable. Over the years it has been embraced, amplified, challenged, and resisted. Evangelical men themselves have promoted alternative models, elevating gentleness and self-control, a commitment to peace, and a divestment of power as expressions of authentic Christian manhood. Yet, understanding the catalyzing role militant Christian masculinity has played over the past half century is critical to understanding American evangelicalism today, and the nation’s fractured political landscape. Appreciating how this ideology developed over time is also essential for those who wish to dismantle it. What was once done might also be undone. (304)

About VIA

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