How to make a fortune (and lose your soul) prophesying the End Times

Want to make some easy money? A bit of creatively implausible exegesis and some conveniently elastic numerology can give us a new-and-improved End Times countdown that starts next year. There’s a fortune waiting to be made for anyone who doesn’t mind that this would entail becoming a soul-less, blasphemous, predatory monster. [Read more…]

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‘You will find out on that day …’: False prophets and lost endings

The Republican National Convention opened yesterday in Cleveland with a horrifying “benediction” from prosperity-gospel huckster Mark Burns. Burns has me thinking again of Zedekiah son of Chenaanah, the ridiculous court prophet-for-hire from the Bible. But as always when dealing with this story, I wind up getting frustrated and sidetracked by it’s missing ending. [Read more…]

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Culture warriors have weird ideas about how courts work

Litfin is so eager to minimize the legitimacy of LGBT people’s claims to legal and civil equality that he starts from an “activist judges” narrative that fails to grasp even a Schoolhouse Rock-level understanding of how government works. In Litfin’s telling, the “judicial branch” just suddenly decided one day to start legislating from the bench — “pressing hard” to create new “controversial” rights for LGBT people. That’s not how courts work. [Read more…]

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Rewriting evangelicals’ past to preserve our mistakes

Christianity Today was co-founded by L. Nelson Bell — Billy Graham’s father-in-law and also the founder of The Southern Presbyterian Journal, a pro-segregationist magazine explicitly dedicated to what Bell (a Wheaton graduate) called “racial integrity.” Bell’s argument in opposition to the Civil Rights movement was irreducibly and emphatically “moral and religious.” He categorically denied that “bare-knuckled racial discrimination” or animus had anything to do with his position. It was, he insisted, a matter of faithfulness to God and of defending the authority of the Bible. [Read more…]

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The 71-percent heresy

For social scientists like Jones, “white evangelical” is a demographic category classifying religious and ethnic identity. But his findings demonstrate, again and again, that white Christianity is also something else. It is not simply the space on some Venn diagram where adherents of Christianity and people of a particular ethnic group overlap. “White Christian” and “white evangelical” are themselves unique religious categories — distinct theologies. [Read more…]

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When identity is bound up in a lie

It’s never that easy when identity is at stake. Identity means survival is at stake. It’s safer to cling to a lie — even if we know it’s a lie — than to allow the destruction of who and what it is that we’ve always believed ourselves to be. [Read more…]

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Secret conversions and the celebrity double-standard

If you want to be beloved by white evangelicals, then, your best bet is to never become one of them. Stay an outsider, but occasionally say things about God that they can celebrate and feel affirmed by. Smile in their direction, but from a distance. (See, for example: Reagan, Ronald.) [Read more…]

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James Dobson is reliably untrustworthy

It seems that some of the same right-wing hacks who have for years suggested that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim now want us to believe that Donald Trump is a secret born-again Christian. Asked to defend his claim of Trump’s secret conversion, James Dobson instead pointed out that, to him, defeating Hillary Clinton was more important than whether or not he’s telling the truth. [Read more…]

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