J.C. Can Save America

Ted Cruz marshals a rhetoric of Christian America in his campaign for president. Christians should “take back” or “reclaim” America, he says, from secularist liberals who have led the nation from its Christian origins. This vocabulary echoes that of his discredited adviser David Barton. His own father Rafael Cruz preaches a dominionist theology and suggests [Read More…]

Culture-Changing Christians

Back in 2012, when Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, many disappointed supporters – including a number of evangelicals – suggested that his defeat spoke to an American culture in decline. For politics to change, they say, culture must change. Glenn Beck, for example, tweeted that “the time for politics is over. I’m doubling down [Read More…]

The End of American Evangelicalism

One of the big surprises of 2016 is the extent of evangelical support for Donald Trump. As I mentioned several weeks ago, judging by historical precedents, evangelicals might well have divided their support among a number of candidates who spoke persuasively about their Christian faith, including Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and the now-defunct Ben Carson, [Read More…]

Salvation Mountain

For historians and other scholars, religion provides an endless supply of fascinating narratives. And few experiences are as sweet as encountering a previously unknown but utterly bizarre and remarkable story. I had that experience reading Sara Patterson’s just-released Middle of Nowhere: Religion, Art, and Pop Culture at Salvation Mountain, a lucid chronicle and analysis of [Read More…]

Unexpected Sites of Christian Pacifism: South Korea

South Korea is an embattled nation. Birthed out of brutal Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945 and then invaded by a Marxist army in 1950, it since has been threatened by North Korea, its totalitarian, atheistic, saber-rattling neighbor to the north. The understandable result has been a militarized nation that requires mandatory service for all [Read More…]

Bethel at War: A Digital History

I’m pleased to present a guest post from Fletcher Warren, a recent graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Read this fine essay, but more importantly, check out the impressive digital history project, created by Warren and Chris Gehrz on which it is based. –David *** Bethel at War is a locally-rooted history of [Read More…]

Evangelicals Will Vote Trump

On Tuesday, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump. A NBC news poll released that same day found that Trump was the preferred choice of a plurality of evangelical voters nationwide. At first glance, Trump should be doing poorly among evangelical voters. He has no obvious track record of churchgoing, piety, or evangelical [Read More…]

The Global Context of InterVarsity and #BlackLivesMatter

Part of InterVarsity’s response to the #BlackLivesMatter controversy has been entirely predictable. In part, the organization is negotiating the intricacies of evangelical politics. A statement released on December 31, 2015, in the wake of controversy read: “InterVarsity does not endorse everything attributed to #BlackLivesMatter. For instance, we reject any call to attack or dehumanize police. [Read More…]

Vonette Zachary Bright (1926-2015)

In December 2004, I went to Orlando, Florida, to interview Vonette Bright. I was in the process of researching and writing a dissertation about Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), using the organization as a lens into the trajectory of American evangelicalism in the second half of the twentieth century. I already felt as if [Read More…]

InterVarsity and #BlackLivesMatter in Historical Perspective

In the last month, Franklin Graham called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration. Polls seemed to show considerable evangelical support for Donald Trump. Jerry Falwell declared, “If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.” Graham and Falwell represent a particular strain of Christianity. [Read More…]