White evangelicals, Republicans and wanting to ‘take our country back’

Linda Harvey of the “Christian radio” program Mission America chimes in with her own version of Michael L. Brown’s awful “why have black people betrayed Christianity?” riff following the 2012 election. Harvey says:

Ninety-three percent of African Americans voted for Obama in this election. Where are the Christians? Where are those who choose candidates based on the content of his or her character?

“Some people,” white evangelical radio host Linda Harvey says, “are swayed by race.”

Harvey can’t imagine any reason that black Christians would vote for President Barack Obama other than because he’s black. (I suppose that’s also why Obama won over three-fourths of Asian-American voters and a large majority of women voters — because Obama is an Asian-American woman.)

Harvey goes on to claim, falsely, that Obama’s re-election means “that people of faith should be forced to pay for other people’s abortion-causing drugs … drugs that kill unborn babies.”

And then she speculates sadly on the cause of this tragedy, in which most African Americans have chosen to be Satanic baby-killers rather than real, true Christians:

Some people are swayed by race, giving him the benefit of the doubt; some find it impossible to accept the jaw-dropping reality about his actions though. He has insulted our Lord, our values and our faith in ways too numerous to mention. But folks decide which camp they want to be in: the cool camp, the one with the hip president who likes big government programs and nods at sexual sin, even if great harm comes to children as a result. No, for some people, first they choose their camp and then they try to figure out ways to justify it.

There’s just something about Obama that, for Harvey, is an insult to “our Lord, our values and our faith.” Whatever could that certain, ineffable something be? And what do you mean “our,” Kemosabe?

Whenever white evangelicals like Harvey speak of “our Lord, our values and our faith” or of “our country,” it’s always done in a way that excludes — to use Harvey’s phrase there — “some people.”

Just like Michael L. Brown and most of the other white evangelical leaders of white evangelicalism, Linda Harvey would insist that she favors diversity, in principle, and that she would be very pleased to see “our” church become more inclusive. In theory, people like Brown and Harvey can nod along with Alvin Sanders as he outlines his “Mission Lessons From Election Night“:

For 20 years I have beat the drum telling evangelicals that they need to get their institutional house in order because diversity is coming. That line no longer is accurate. Ladies and gentlemen, diversity is here.

And as demonstrated [Election] night, the organizations that figure out how to express their values, attitudes, and beliefs in a diverse manner will be the ones that come out on top. The ones that don’t will slowly and steadily lose their impact.

Here are the facts. Our country is browner, is more female, and is well on its way to becoming an ethnic minority/majority country. If we can’t figure out how to speak to this reality evangelical institutions will be completely marginalized.

The white evangelical leaders of white evangelicalism can murmur approvingly when conservative columnist Anthony Bradley writes:

And here’s a valuable lesson for conservative evangelicals from last Tuesday’s election results: If your church, college, seminary, denominational annual meeting, etc., looks like Romney’s concession speech audience, you likely will be unable to transform, influence, or engage America. To do so, you’ll need to start including minorities and women as executive leaders and thought leaders who will help chart institutional direction.

Michael Brown and Linda Harvey and other white evangelicals are fine with that. And they’d be perfectly comfortable tapping “minorities and women as executive leaders and thought leaders” just as long as those folks share all the exact same opinions, perspectives and priorities as those of the white evangelical establishment. They’re all for diversity, but only in the sense that they like the optics of a diverse-looking crowd all pledging unquestioning allegiance to the pure white evangelical agenda in lockstep conformity.

Matt Taibbi was writing about politics, not about the church, when he wrote the following. But I think Taibbi’s comments here on the Republican Party as a whole apply just as much to that party’s subgroup of the white evangelical church. Symbolic attempts at “outreach” to women, Latinos, African Americans, etc., won’t work, Taibbi says, because the real problem isn’t symbolic, it’s the resentful, indignant, self-righteous heart and soul of the Republican/white evangelical ideology:

But modern Republicans will never be able to spread that message effectively, because they have so much of their own collective identity wrapped up in the belief that they’re surrounded by free-loading, job-averse parasites who not only want to smoke weed and have recreational abortions all day long, but want hardworking white Christians like them to pay the tab. Their whole belief system, which is really an endless effort at congratulating themselves for how hard they work compared to everyone else (by the way, the average “illegal,” as Rush calls them, does more real work in 24 hours than people like Rush and me do in a year), is inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can’t win votes when you’re calling people lazy, stoned moochers.

You can’t win votes by insulting potential voters. And you can’t win over everybody else when you’re convinced you’re better than everybody else — because they’re all a bunch of evil, depraved, Satanic baby-killers.

Anthea Butler gets at the heart of white evangelicals’ “take our country back” rhetoric and the assumptions underlying it:

After four years of hearing the refrain “Let’s take our country back,” it is clear that 2012 is not only, as Sarah Posner writes, a religious realignment, but also a moral realignment.

Fake God talk doesn’t cut it with Americans. Everyone sees through it. For Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and a host of others, the last four years have been a confidence game, a careful calculation that if they could just promote themselves, their god, their America, and Obama as a socialist just enough, the tide would turn their way and the money would flow. It didn’t. Many Americans want gay people to have the right to marry, recognize that rape is rape, and view women’s reproductive rights as important.

Americans are tired of racist remarks and the denigration of the office of the President of the United States simply because an African American with a dual heritage and a white mother cracked and decoded the American dream.

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  • Mira

    Any time you hear an ill-defined “we” (as in “we Americans,” “we in modern society,” “we Christians) opposed to minorities, foreigners, women, poor people, etc…even when it’s well-meaning, that’s where the problem is. The “we.”

    Sorry, “they” are already here among “us.” It’s only in your imagination that “we” do not include “them.”

  • Does anyone else remember the Reagan Rap?  I think Garry Trudeau was involved, as I recall?  “I’ll settle for just ten percent!”  That’s the part I’m remembering right now.

  • For my part, I’m pretty sure about 3/5 of them, I have a dubious guess at “d—s” but don’t see why Italians would be involved, and no idea at all about “c—-s”.  And I would like to know.

  • Hilary


    “One of the things that startled me a bit, reading the post-election tantrums from the right wing, was discovering that I’m not white. Apparently I’m one of those Ebil Voting Block People like blacks, hispanics, and “young people” (who also aren’t white, none of ’em). Nope, to be really truly white you have to be old and, above all else, male.”

    Me too.  I mean I knew I wasn’t realy ‘white’ white, what with being a dyke Jew, but still.  (Glances at hands on keybord) I’m not talking about an excess of melanin here. 

    But here’s what I’ve decided: If they can talk about ‘taking their country back’ I’m gonna take ‘white’ back.  I’m white.  I’m a white American.  I’m a white American voter.  And you, my dear right wing Christian Republican ‘real America’ quote unquote, you DO NOT own me, you DO NOT define me, and you CAN NOT buy me, with money or fear. You can shove your racist dog whistles up your ass – I’m a cat lover, anyway. 

    As much hand wringing as we’re hearing about black votes and hispanic votes and women votes (aren’t white women really white? what else do you call XX chromasomes of European heritage?) I don’t think they’ve even touched on their deepest fear, that they can not be the gatekeepers and definers of ‘white’ much longer. The more “white voter” becomes short hand code for conservative straight Christian Republican, the more people of European heritage in this country who voted for Obama are going to distance themselves from that racial identity.  Or like me they might take back being white only to turn it into a proud label of defiance that ‘white’ is nobodies monolithic group to be manipulated like a marrienette.  What do you mean ‘we’, white man?  What exactly are you calling ‘our’ country? 

    I said this before on another thread here, but if 4 out of 10 white people voted for Obama, that is a lot of Euro-Americans going for him.  That’s almost half the white population.  Given the age demographics of his white voters, 12-24 years out that would probably be half or just past half of the white population.  And that is something the Republicans are going to have to face.  I think that might be even harder to face then their need to somehow connect with brown voters.   

  • Lori

    For the d one I’m pretty sure that Ross meant a term for lesbians which is generally fine within the queer community, but a nasty insult coming from outside it. (It goes so nicely with the f one.  /sarcasm)

    Now that I look at it again I’m not sure about the c one. It has one more – than I thought it did and now I’m a little confused. (I originally assumed he meant the c word that can refer either to a woman’s lady bits (fine with me, in an appropriate context) or to the woman herself (not fine, not fine at all, we will throw down if you call me that).

  • Ah, that ‘d’ word makes a lot more sense.  And, I had the same confusion about the ‘c’ word, so it’s not just you.

  • Hilary

    Yes, what you said! Like!


  • Tricksterson

    Isn’t Biden a bit old?

  • Not Italians, but women in sensible shoes. No clue about the other. 

  • Tricksterson


  • Tricksterson

    Italian would be dagos

  • Ronald Reagan was 70 when he became President. And McCain ran for President at a pretty advanced age, too.

  • Maybe Clinton/Warren? I like the idea of following up the first black president with the first all-women ticket. 

    I’m a little concerned about Warren’s career being quite a lot of ‘falling upwards’ — she definitely deserves it, but it really seems like a lot of lucky breaks and having enemies self-destruct of their own accord — A lot of Brown’s appeal was seeming like a pretty nice guy. Then he goes on this ‘fake Indian’ tangent that did nothing but make him look like a screaming asshole. It’s like he wanted to lose.  In that respect Warren’s career is kind of like Obama’s, come to think of it.

  • Lori

    I suspect there are very few successful who don’t have essentially the same issue. That’s part of the reason that the just world fallacy is a fallacy—there’s a fair bit of luck at the core of most epic success (and most epic failure). That doesn’t diminish Warren, or other successful people. As the old saying goes success is luck + preparation. There’s skill & hard work in being able to seize the luck when it comes your way.

    Also, the fact that Brown’s “nice guy” image fell apart wasn’t really luck at all. The image was never more than an illusion and it fell apart because Warren was a strong enough candidate, running a strong enough campaign to push Brown hard enough to crack his facade. Warren earned every vote she picked up because Brown melted down.

    Incidently, it appears that Brown agrees with me that he lost because Warren was too strong an opponent, as opposed to him being a fundamentally weak candidate. The scuttlebutt is that if Kerry gets a cabinet post* Brown intends to run for his seat and fully expects to win. That would indicate that he thinks his likely opponents in that race would be easier to beat than Warren.

    *I wish Kerry would just stay in the Senate. The Dems don’t seem to have anyone lined up to hold his seat, having Brown in the Senate would be even worse than having him in the House and the Dems are facing a tough enough fight to hang onto the Senate in ’14, without adding to the workload. At the same time, Kerry has had a long career and if he really wants to cap it off with a cabinet post for which he is well qualified I’m not sure it’s my place to tell him he shouldn’t have it.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    I think that “c—-s” is a reference to the plural form of a common pejorative term for Chinese people.

  • Lori

    Oh, that makes sense. Obama got even more of the Asian vote than he got of the hispanic vote and everyone knows those people all look alike*. (In defense of my slowness, I’ve heard the s word which makes reference to their eyes much, much more than I’ve heard the c word that technically only applies to the Chinese.)

    *They really don’t. My ex used to joke by saying that I was really good at telling them apart…for a white girl. Yes, even in the 2000s there is still enough prejudice that an  inter-racial couple, even of a fairly broadly accepted sort, occasionally has to resort to bad jokes in order to deal with other people’s BS.

  • Kadh2000

     There is evidence (I’d have to ask my pastor for the details) that said rich man did eventually sell his possessions and become a Christian.

  • Kadh2000

     The Chinese were intended to be the villains.  They protested.  The North Koreans, having less clout, moved up the ladder to take their place.

  • MikeJ

    I thought the purpose of language was communication. If you want to say something, just fucking say it.  As long as you aren’t using it to degrade somebody, nobody is going to be shocked to learn that other people use bad words.

  • Daughter

    Do you have any citations for that? Because it seems like during the FDR era when a majority of Americans were voting Democratic, that would have included women, too.

  • I’ve reached the point where my response to “liberals make us pay for procedures that kill babies!” is “conservatives make us pay for procedures that kill adults, which is so evil, disgusting and reprehensible that no decent person should have any truck with it.”

    Which isn’t true, I know. The reality is that decent people sometimes make decisions that mean a life that might otherwise have lasted longer doesn’t. The real world is full of tradeoffs, and longer life is not the only moral good.

    But either trading longer lives for other moral goods is morally acceptable or it isn’t. I think it is, but I could be wrong. I’ll participate in conversations that assume either standard, but I’ll apply that standard across the board.

  • Morilore

    Where are those who choose candidates based on the content of his or her character?

    oh for fuck’s sake

    martin luther king would be on my side smug smug smug SMUG SMUG SMUG SMUG SMUG


  • Baby_Raptor

    You’d be surprised…I share your opinion, but “bad” words being bad is still very much ingrained in the collective mind. 

    It’s likely another case of Intent Isn’t Magic. No, bad words aren’t really bad, it’s how the person uses them that’s bad. But words can still be triggers for the bad things people have used them to mean even when people are using them “innocently.”

  • Daughter

    Of course, Harvey defines character and faith purely in terms of the litmus tests of not supporting abortion and marriage equality. Oh, and “penalizing success” by which I assume she means taxes. So that’s what Christian faith comes down to, in her view.

    Nothing on loving others, helping the poor, all those things that Jesus spent most of his time talking about. It doesn’t occur to her that African-American Christians, having suffered slavery, discrimination and poverty, might prioritize non-discrimination and a social safety net as important moral issues.

    And, btw, it is interesting that no one questioned black Christian’s Christianity when they voted overwhelmingly for pro-choice Democratic presidents and candidates in the past. Why does only their vote for Obama call their faith into question?

  • Lori

    At least for me it’s not so much a matter of avoiding shocking people as it is avoiding calling the trolls. Certain words seem to bring a particularly low sort of troll out of the woodwork, so I reflexively avoid typing them in full.

  • Daughter

    Or to be more explicit, it doesn’t occur to Harvey that many Obama voters find Romney and the GOP in general, with their racism, greed, lying and fuck the poor attitude, to be the ones who are immoral, un-Christian (for those who are Christian) and lacking in character.

  • OK, I can’t figure out half of those bowdlerised words. But then, I was mystified about what “the t word” could be when I heard that Palin had been called it.

    In order, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, lesbians, homosexual men, and women who enjoy nonmarital sex.

  • stardreamer42

    From the last election cycle: http://www.shakesville.com/2009/05/loud-and-clear.html?dsq=9379187
    The problem isn’t that minorities aren’t listening to what Republicans have to say. It’s that they ARE, and have been for the last hundred years. (And so are an increasing percentage of white people.)

    Coleslaw: Historically, the single largest factor affecting women’s life expectancy is the likelihood of dying in childbirth. Once that was no longer a major factor, it turned out that women had a slightly longer life expectancy than men. This is borne out by the gender ratio among senior citizens.

  • LoneWolf343

     I want Clinton never to be president. How can anyone see “Bush-Clinton-Bush-…-Clinton” and be okay with that?

  •  And, btw, it is interesting that no one questioned black Christian’s
    Christianity when they voted overwhelmingly for pro-choice Democratic
    presidents and candidates in the past. Why does only their vote for
    Obama call their faith into question?

    If Obama had been white, it’s possible that his outright explicit support for marriage equality and his role in obliging all insurance companies to cover contraception may yet have been a dealbreaker for them.

    But it can’t exactly soothe their insecurities that he’s “not really American” and “a secret Muslim,” which is to say, black. And if he’d been white they wouldn’t be able to holler that black voters only voted for him because he was black.

    (And, seriously, complaining that black voters overwhelmingly voted for the very first black candidate for president ever in the history of the US demonstrates a rather stunning willful ignorance of CONTEXT. Up until Obama, no voter, white OR black, ever voted for a non-white presidential candidate, so whats their effin’ point?)

  • Hilary

    I was talking to my wife Penny about white identity and this last election. She’s even whiter then I am – red hair, blue eyes, freckles, and burns in five minutes.  She pointed something rather terrifying out to me – that most, almost all, of Obama’s supporters would be Holocaust victoms 70 years ago in Germany.  I’m not saying this to Godwin the discussion, I am not calling Romney Hitler, I am not saying his supporters are Nazi’s.  But it is an interesting observation.

    Gays, non-Europeans, non-Aryan Europeans, Gypsies/Roma, handicapped/disabled, *politcal dissidents* Poles, Catholics, it’s a long list beyond Jews.

    How many of these people are us, how many would be part of the 47%?  Again, I AM NOT CALLING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NAZI’S.  I’m just noticing an overlap in demographics.  Romney himself might have been a victim, I don’t think Mormon’s would have been safe.

    But maybe the real racial identity conversation amoung us whitefolks is white v. Aryan?  As in, all Aryans and WASPs are white, but not all white people are Aryan, or a WASP. 

    I don’t know what to think about this.  Any ideas? 


  • Jeff Weskamp

    Because the Conservative Christians have, during this year’s election, literally demonized Obama worse than any other candidate I can remember.  Some of them have accused him of being the Antichrist.  They’ve accused him of doing everything except drinking the blood of Christian children.  After that much hyperbole, how can they possibly accept any self-described Christian voting for such a monster?  Many of these folks truly feel that voting for Obama is the same as extending both middle fingers up to the sky and screaming, “&#$@ you, God!”

  • Lori

    Honestly, this was the single biggest reason I didn’t vote for her. “Bush-Clinton-Bush-…-Clinton” really shouldn’t be a thing and frankly “Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama…-Clinton” isn’t much better and I’d rather it not happen. That pains me on several levels, but it’s true.

    I also don’t want any more people named Bush or Kennedy running for president. At least not for a very, very long time. Inherited position and wealth, and the enormous difficulty of getting those things without inheriting them, are at the heart of what’s wrong with our country right now. I would rather not see the presidency become a position that gets handed off that way.

  • I think it’s because all through the last 500 years, the people who’ve historically been on the top of the social and economic pyramid have been male, white, wealthy people. As such they were considered superior in a lot of racial paradigms, not just the Nazi one.

    It’s historically been non-white people who have formed a preponderance of the dispossessed and who’ve been the unfortunate punching bags for angry white people looking for someone to blame.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    most, almost all, of Obama’s supporters would be Holocaust victoms 70 years ago in Germany

    Um, not so sure this is correct. In my case, my traceable ancestors came from Germany a few centuries back. So did my husband’s. It’s entirely possible to be very white (and perhaps even meet the Nazi scumbags’ definition of the meaningless term “Aryan” – there’s an embarrassing status for you), and as Christian as you can manage to be, and also be unable to stomach the modern Republican party.

  • Hilary

    Thanks.  Like I said, I just just thinking out loud in a thread with interesting people who also think about this stuff.  I’m not accusing anybody of being anything, just . . . thinking about it.


  • EllieMurasaki

    I want Clinton never to be president. How can anyone see “Bush-Clinton-Bush-…-Clinton” and be okay with that?

    I think Hillary Clinton would be a fine president, but among the reasons I voted Obama in the primaries was we really do not want anyone thinking our first female president got the job because her husband’s a former president, and we also do not want anyone thinking Hillary’s first term is a smokescreen for Bill’s third. And isn’t she retiring as SecState? I don’t think she wants the presidency.

  • Katie

    I don’t think that Hillary Clinton will run for President.  She’s had a good run as Secretary of State, and she’s getting old enough that her age (as well as her gender) would be a factor in the next election.  Also,  given her husband’s health, I’m not sure that *he* is up to the rigors of a election, or to the duties of the First Gentleman. 

  • Lori

    I think Hillary Clinton would be a fine president, but among the reasons
    I voted Obama in the primaries was we really do not want anyone
    thinking our first female president got the job because her husband’s a
    former president, and we also do not want anyone thinking Hillary’s
    first term is a smokescreen for Bill’s third.  


    And isn’t she retiring as SecState? I don’t think she wants the presidency.

    Yes, she’s stepping down from her position at State. If that says anything about her thoughts on trying again for the presidency it would weigh more on the side that she is interested, than that she’s not. It would be all but impossible to make another run for the White House while serving as Sec of State, so she’d have to step down to run. The transition between the two terms is a good time to leave the job without creating hard feelings, or at least the appearance of hard feelings, that could hurt her. I hope she has something else in mind for her next act, but it will probably be a bit before we really know.

  • Keulan

    If we’re going by just race and sex, I don’t fit with the demographics of many Obama voters, since I’m a white male. But I’m also in my twenties, and an atheist, while the Republican party is full of old, bigoted theocrats. I vote for candidates who are more likely to support equality and separation of church and state. I haven’t heard of many Republicans who value both of those things, in actions as well as words.

  • Daughter

     From what I know of  her, I think she might be interested in doing work around women’s rights internationally, but that’s speculation on my part.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Oh, no offense here – just offering a counterexample to help you think it through.

  •  Some have suggested that she’s retiring as Secretary of State so that she’ll be able to distance herself from the previous administration in 2016.

    Of course, she’d be close to 70 when she took office in that case, which would make her older than any president since Reagan. I’m not sure the presidency is how I’d like to spend my seventies.

  • Lori

    Given the infamous aging properties of the presidency spending one’s 70s doing the job would seem to be a good way to avoid having to figure out what to do with one’s 80s. I’m pretty sure the only reason it didn’t kill Reagan outright is that he lived in such a fantasy world even before the Alzheimer’s set in, that he wasn’t subject to the same stress as most presidents are.

  • http://publications.socialstudies.org/se/5905/590505.html

    The women’s history of the 1950s is often seen simply as the era of motherhood, large families, and suburban development. The decade was, however, an important time of expansion in the participation of women in the labor force. By 1960, twice as many women were employed as in 1940 (Chafe 1972, 218). The decade was not a dramatic period for women’s involvement in politics. The election of 1952 brought the first sign of a “gender gap” in voting, as women voted particularly strongly to put Dwight David Eisenhower into the White House (Baxter and Lansing 1980, 61-62). Roper survey data before and after the election indicated that 58 percent of all women, across all social groups, voted for Eisenhower, while only 52 percent of all men did. Since 1920, women had favored the Republicans, but the difference in 1952 was particularly great. In 1954, Louis Harris looked back on the election and commented: “It raises the real possibility that in the future there will be a ‘woman’s vote’ quite separate from the men’s” (quoted in Baxter and Lansing 1980, 62).

    There was a lot of stuff I read about the history of women’s suffrage back in the 70’s, but I did find this summary online. Plus I lived through the ERA fight and had an older friend who was a member of the National Women’s Party and knew Alice Paul.

  • Coleslaw: Historically, the single largest factor affecting women’s life expectancy is the likelihood of dying in childbirth. Once that was no longer a major factor, it turned out that women had a slightly longer life expectancy than men. This is borne out by the gender ratio among senior citizens.

    I really wish I could remember the title of that book, because the author said it wasn’t just childbirth, women had higher death rates in their teens before they began bearing children. He may have been wrong, for all I know.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Ah, I see. I got the first; was momentarily thrown by the anti-gay ones cos of the reference to racism but figured them out; and had no idea about the second and last.

    The only thing I’ve ever heard called “the s word” was “shit” in primary school (or “shut up” in infants school). As an adult only two swear words get bowdlerised, and with the racists slurs you’re either someone who uses them or you’re not. I’ve never had (or heard) occasion to refer to a racist slur in coded terms (here, that is; the US-based ones are well known).

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Really? Fox news freaked their shit out about Bill Maher calling Sarah Palin a twat?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    How about Adams, Harrison or Roosevelt?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    On the demographics, I checked out the US stats and apparently there have been more women than men of voting age since around 1940.