The promissory note

-- Martin Luther King Jr.,  I guess, based on the way that speech usually gets quoted.

Pope Francis broke one of the cardinal rules of American politics during his visit to the White House last week. The pope quoted from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That’s fine, of course. It’s almost mandatory to praise that speech — provided you stick to the famous mountaintop kumbaya bits from near the end. But Francis quoted from the dangerous, forbidden parts at the beginning. And that just isn’t allowed. [Read more...]

How to Lose Friends and Influence People


There’s a bit of folk-wisdom that says you should never lend money to a friend unless you are willing to part with one or the other for good — either the money or the friend. Something like that is true when it comes to lending your integrity to friends. You’ll need to be willing to part with one or the other because it may turn out that you’ll only be able to keep one of them, and you should decide ahead of time which is more important to you. [Read more...]

If nothing is sacred, then everything is for sale


“Sacred” does not mean that something “is beyond question.” It means that something is beyond price. To say that nothing is “sacred,” then, is to say that everything is for sale. This is not just a deeply cynical thing to say about the world, but a bitterly cynical thing to say about oneself. [Read more...]

Scenes from the class war (9.8)


“You have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?” [Read more...]

Baptism is always a political act


Believer’s Baptism requires the separation of church and state. More than that: Believer’s Baptism defiantly asserts the separation of church and state. It declares and demands and demonstrates the separation of church and state. [Read more...]

The culture war has always been about race

Sen. Jesse Helms accepts the "Proudly Pro-Life" award from the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund in 1998.

Before the Reagan years, the culture wars were an anti-civil-rights struggle focused on race (“states’ rights,” busing, etc.), which drew support from white evangelical voters. After the Reagan years, the culture wars became an anti-feminist struggle focused on sex (abortion, LGBT rights, etc.), which solidified that white evangelical support into the GOP’s largest and most reliable voting bloc. That was a huge change. Or, maybe, it wasn’t. [Read more...]

White evangelical voters, Donald Trump, and the evolution of the religious right

"There's a bear in the woods," Ronald Reagan reminded voters in 1984. That bear was not abortion or gays. It was Russia (and black people).

This isn’t really about Donald Trump. It’s about white evangelical voters and their support (later revoked) for Jimmy Carter and their support (later regretted) for George W. Bush. And it’s about why it’s misleading and anachronistic to imagine that the religious right of 1980 was anything at all like the religious right of 1988 or of 2004 or of 2015. [Read more...]

Where you gonna run to? Tim LaHaye and Billy Graham vs. Peter Tosh and Nina Simone

Same words. Different sermon.

Nina Simone learned the song “Sinner Man” from her mother, who was a revivalist Methodist preacher. White revivalist preachers sang that song too, but even though most of the words were the same, the meaning was very different. [Read more...]