Wheaton College Becomes a Tool of the Far Right Obama-Haters and Seals the Fate of the Evangelical Community’s Reputation for a Generation

Wheaton College Becomes a Tool of the Far Right Obama-Haters and Seals the Fate of the Evangelical Community’s Reputation for a Generation July 4, 2014


I had my first deep wet kiss with a woman at the evangelical establishment bastion of Wheaton College. Dad was lecturing there. I was fifteen. She was a twenty-something house mother in a dorm. Memorable!!! Now Wheaton will also be remembered as the place the far right Obama-haters used to try and discredit the president with a lie.

This time the lie is that Obama is “anti-religious” because he thinks women should have the right to contraception. Wheaton will be remembered as the people who brought us more abortions because they just got the Supreme Court to say they don’t have to provide contraception to their employees. No contraception means more abortion. Period.

Wheaton College used to be a top-ranked, academically rigorous Christian liberal arts college located west of Chicago. Now it’s going to be thought of as someplace like Bob Jones university: a bastion of cranks and anti-woman weirdos.

Or put it this way: Billy Graham went to Wheaton and so they were once thought of as a place where a loving gospel had been preached. And now we know Wheaton is the creature of Billy’s unhinged far-right paranoid son Franklin Graham. Now Wheaton too is all about hate-filled delusions about “us evangelicals” being “victims” of the big bad “THEY!” the Jesus-hating government and all those scientists and other atheists!

Suddenly “religious freedom” is about forcing women to have abortions because they were deprived of contraception. Good job Wheaton!  You’ve done in one move what the New Atheist movement could not have achieved in a century.

As the New York Times notes notes (“Birth Control Order Deepens Divide Among Justices” July 3, 2014):

In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.

The decision temporarily exempts [Wheaton College] from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s order was brief, provisional and unsigned, but it drew a furious reaction from the three female members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The order, Justice Sotomayor wrote, was at odds with the 5-to-4 decision on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which involved for-profit corporations.

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

The court’s action, she added, even “undermines confidence in this institution.”

Monday’s decision and the order on Thursday were dual blows to the Obama administration’s efforts to provide contraception coverage, said Walter Dellinger, who was acting United States solicitor general in the Clinton administration…

Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Wheaton, said, “The court rightly recognized that Wheaton’s religious community should be allowed to practice its faith free from crushing government fines.”

Wheaton College is the new hero to the Tea Party, the next point man to get the black intruder in the White House (as the GOP has seen Obama from Day 1)… at any cost.

This time the “cost” is the entire reputation (or what’s left of it) of evangelical faith.

It is also at the cost of faith itself. As I describe in my book WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace there is a better way to approach spirituality than hate and fear. And the response to my new book’s positive loving message from evangelicals is huge.

As my flood of email proves, many evangelical people are sick and tired of the Tea Party/GOP paranoid delusional culture wars that posit that we’re victims. Most evangelicals want something better. That is why they seem to be turning my book into a best seller. They write to me all the time.

But Wheaton, led by some very mean men, have just moved from flag ship of the loving gospel to a cranky paranoid delusional backwater. They may have take the GOP’s fortunes with them. It is a fact that women-hating is now the GOP logo. Wheaton just cemented the perception. 

The evangelical/Wheaton myth of persecution by an “anti-religious” government is pure fiction. It is a legitimizing force for those who refuse to accept things like evolution, climate change, that gay men and women are created that way, in other words a way to reject science. It is an excuse for living in a state of reality denial. It legitimizes hate too.

Like I said, I had my first kiss with a woman at Wheaton College.  Had we had sexual intercourse,  we would not have used contraceptives. To even have had such things handy would have been to deny our official commitment to chastity and virginity “until marriage.” This same house mother/lover had – like all Wheaton employees – signed a pledge to avoid all alcoholic drinks, smoking, dancing and of course — anything “immoral” i.e., sex. 

Two years later when I got my girlfriend Genie pregnant (we just celebrated our forty-fourth wedding anniversary along with our three children and five grandchildren) needless to say we weren’t using “anything” either. Though us Protestants weren’t “like those Catholics” who didn’t believe in contraception the fact was that if you weren’t married you just didn’t ask!

To ask was to admit you were having sex! To admit sexual activity was to doubt God! To doubt God was to excommunicate yourself from the safe label of “Evangelical…”

Wheaton’s Tea Party attack on Obama never was about religious freedom. It is about the black man in the White House that the Tea Party hates. It is about any way anyone can come up with to lynch him legally.

What most Americans will take away from the headlines, is that “those evangelicals” and “those Roman Catholic bishops” hate women and hate the president and his health care reforms. Most Americans will further dismiss evangelicals as stone age bigots. That’s a shame. Most evangelicals do not hate women. In fact most evangelicals are aware of what I write in Chapter 12 of my new book WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace:

 The Anglo-Saxon world also felt what I call the emancipating Jesus time bomb effect. Feminist themes were emerging in Western religious culture before secular feminism emerged as a movement. The drive for the abolition of slavery in the United States was often led by women, some of whom also argued for the right of women to lead churches. Many nineteenth-century women in the States and Britain including Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown graduated from schools like Charles Finney’s Oberlin College in Ohio, the first college in the US to admit women and blacks. Brown was the first woman in the US to be ordained. (Even before that, the Wesleyan revival in Britain included female leaders. Margaret Fell, a Quaker, argued for the right of women to preach.)

Nineteenth-century women first gained power in non-conformist denominations by arguing the example of Jesus. They gained power in these churches before the secular society gave them the vote or modern secular feminism arose in the post-World War II period.

What a shame that the wonderful inheritance of so many evangelical feminists is dragged through the mud today by Wheaton!

The Republicans will continue to lose national elections as they navigate their victimhood myth. And evangelicals, including the people running Wheaton, will continue to lose credibility. Jesus just got a punch in the mouth delivered by Wheaton College.

The Wheaton logo used to be “For Christ and His Kingdom.” Today it is: “For the Tea Party and the bigots!”

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