US Christian writer feels the full wrath of Trumpite evangelicals

US Christian writer feels the full wrath of Trumpite evangelicals December 18, 2017

Until the run-up to the US Presidential election last year Jen Hatmaker enjoyed enormous popularity as an evangelical author and speaker.
But things went horribly wrong when Hatmaker made it abundantly clear that she was no fan of Trump, and – worse still – had no problems with same-sex marriage.
Yesterday, Politico magazine detailed the backlash Hatmaker suffered as a result. Readers mailed back her books to her home address, but not before some burned the pages or tore them into shreds. She received death threats. LifeWay Christian Stores, the behemoth retailer of the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled her titles off the shelves.
Hatmaker was devastated. Up until that point, she had been a wildly influential and welcome presence in the evangelical world, a Christian author whose writings made the New York Times best-seller list and whose home renovation got its own HGTV series.
During the campaign, as other white evangelicals coalesced around the Republican nominee, Hatmaker effectively joined the coterie of “Never Trump” evangelicals, telling her more than half a million Facebook followers that Donald Trump made her:

Sad and horrified and despondent.

Defiant: Brandon and Jen Hatmaker
When the full weight of conservative Christian outrage crashed down her, Hatmaker’s life changed dramatically. It also impacted on her husband Pastor Brandon Hatmaker, who fully supported her belief that gay marriage can be as “holy” as any other.
She says people in her little town of Buda, Texas, just south of Austin, pulled her children aside and said terrible things about her and her husband. She was afraid to be in public, and she wasn’t sleeping or eating well.
Hatmaker recently told an audience in Dallas:

The way people spoke about us, it was as if I had never loved Jesus a day in my life.

The gilded auditorium was quiet, its 2,300 seats filled to capacity with nearly all women.

And I was just an ally. Think about how our gay brothers and sisters feel.

Hatmaker, writes Politico‘s Tiffany Stanley, has not backed down. In May, she posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a black tank top with the words, “I ain’t sorry.” She has kept talking to the rump of her followers, many of them white and generally conservative Christian women, about supporting gun control, Black Lives Matter and refugees. At a time when the white evangelical share of the American electorate is on the decline, Hatmaker is out with a best-selling book, a top-rated podcast and a speaking tour that’s selling out.
Stanley added:

Hatmaker remains an unlikely, and perhaps uncomfortable, member of the anti-Trump resistance. “I don’t know if I fit neatly into that space,” she says. While she’s against abortion, she takes pains to say she has an expansive view of what “pro-life” means. And she doesn’t think holding that view necessarily ties her to the GOP, even at a time when white evangelicals are as closely affiliated as ever with the Republican Party.

But maybe that’s the point. Hatmaker can reach her own demographic. In the greenroom before her meet-and-greet, she said, “For me it’s more like a constant prophetic responsibility to call evil, evil. To call racism, racism. And unfortunately, this seems to be happening on the daily.”

Does she still identify as evangelical? “It depends on your definition,” she says. She rejects the conservative political affiliation aligned with the term. “I think the way that most people would understand the word, I would say no, I do not identity with that label anymore. I just love Jesus.”

“I am still bewildered, and I don’t know what the future is,” Hatmaker says. “I do know that there seems to be a mass exodus from the evangelical brand right now. That could be my tribe that I’ve curated, so I hear that more. Because it seems like the good old boys are still thriving out in a world that I’m not involved in, so you know my perspective is narrow and biased, and I’m not sure what is actually true.” She adds, “I want to be hopeful though. I want to be hopeful that we are going to find our way back home and reclaim a lot of the credibility that we’ve lost.”

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  • Frank

    This is what religions do. They cast out, reject and disqualify those who have different ideals or ideas. “You cannot belong to our club because you are a sinner”. But even more sinister, corrosive and toxic is the almost inevitable need for those in the group to claim they are being wrongly persecuted by those outside the group. And by claim I mean they publically shreik and wail and holler and scream and bitch incessantly about how badly and unfairly they are being treated and offended. Its almost like an institutionalised version of the unattractive characteristics of a boorish spoilt brat who has an in built self hating vindictiveness.
    Hatmaker could gain far more kudos, self esteem, respect, fame and wealth for herself if she turned on those who have cast her out and makes a new career being an outspoken born again atheist agitator and author. Go for it.

  • AgentCormac

    It never ceases to amaze me just how much people who claim to be all about love and morality are actually consumed by hate, loathing and downright inhumanity. What a wonderful gift religion is to the world.

  • L.Long

    So how does she equate her BS religion with gay marriage is OK??? Other then pure hypocrisy? Now if she is brave enough to state that her book o’BS does not forbid gay marriage or being gay because of …..? Then all the power to her she will need it.

  • Cali Ron

    She is considerably more palatable than most evangelicals, being less consumed with hate and not so close minded, however she is still god deluded and proselytizing others to be god deluded too. So on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst she’s a 2 or 3 which isn’t bad since most evangelicals are zeroes.

  • Laura Roberts

    Another prime example of religion’s inherent divisiveness.

  • andym

    Great name, though.

  • barriejohn

    Cali Ron: I agree. She’s got a long way to go!
    @andym: It IS a great name, but is open to improvement.
    Jen Hatmaker = Nah! Jerk meat.

  • tonye

    She appears to be quite a bit more ‘tolerant’ than most evangelicals in the USA. That’s a step in the right direction.

  • barriejohn

    @tonye: There were a couple of articles recently positing that tolerant, moderate, traditional Christianity in the USA was doomed. I can’t actually find a link, and I’m a bit pushed for time just now (can anyone help?), but the following analysis (featured recently on the Richard Dawkins site) is brilliant, especially for those of us over on this side of The Pond:

  • Stephen Mynett
  • barriejohn

    That’s it!

  • Angela_K

    Tut tut, that will never do, going off message and being tolerant.
    On Radio 4’s Today programme the new Archbigot of London was being interviewed, great that she is a woman and so will upset the hard-liners. However, when asked several times if she supported equal marriage, she refused to answer and waffled with all the skill of a politician.

  • tonye

    barriejohn/Stephen Mynett,
    Many thanks for those links.

  • barriejohn
  • 1859

    Wonderful barriejohn! Just followed your ‘express’ link and found myself staring at a grinning Welby in full regalia flanked by two women similarly dressed up. but the advertisement banner right across the bottom of the picture read ‘Free Cat Repellant’ – priceless!

  • StephenJP

    @Angela_K, l heard that interview too; but I have to say that I am prepared to cut her a bit of slack, given that this was pretty well her first time on national radio. She has not even been enthroned (or installed, or whatever they do to her) yet; and London is a very diverse diocese, which includes an awful lot of fundie evangelicals. If she had come right out with it, and said that of course she favours blessing same-sex marriages in church, and indeed wants to be the first female AB(Cant), she would have alienated half her flock before she’d even got started. 
    Let’s give her a few months. If she is flannelling like this in six months’ time, I will be among the first to call her out.