Milo Yiannopoulos is the poster boy of the alt-right movement. His entire platform is based upon antagonizing political correctness, which has made him a sought-after speaker for College Republican chapters throughout the country. Since Milo’s speaking events have drawn protests on liberal campuses, the Conservative Political Action Committee decided to make him a keynote at their annual gathering this week. That is, until footage emerged of him making comments in support of pedophilia. In other words, a hero of the religious right had become their most egregious bogeyman: the gay pedophile. Within 24 hours, Milo’s appearance at CPAC and his new book deal with Simon & Schuster had been canceled.
So how did it get this far? How did the political incorrectness that Milo champions become a “family value” for so many evangelical Christians? My hope is that the demise of Milo has created a small window of opportunity for reflecting on the war against political correctness. The way that a scoundrel like Milo Yiannopoulos becomes a keynote speaker in a political movement is when it’s built on reactionary scorn rather than constructive, positive content. Milo is exactly the kind of thoroughly poisonous person the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 1 — not because he’s gay, but because his entire identity is built on malice. And the fact that so many so-called “conservatives” were taken in by him is indicative of deep spiritual sickness.
Officially, the beef that evangelical Christians have with what they call “political correctness” is the way that our culture has shifted over the past couple of decades in greater support of LGBTQ identity. Saying denigrating things about queer people has become socially unacceptable. That means that advocates of “traditional sexuality” are being oppressed. But it goes back a lot further than that.
I remember my grandpa whining back in the nineties about the fact that he couldn’t use the n-word in public anymore. He explained to me many times that the n-word had “nothing to do” with whether somebody was white or black, since it just described an “attitude” of laziness and entitlement. And he would complain all day about the never-ending evolution of what you’re supposed to call “those people.” They were Negroes when he was growing up and then they wanted to be called blacks and then African Americans. “Why can’t they just make up their mind?!” he would say. He was an amazing man who was my inspiration to become a pastor, and he was also just as racist as most of the other white men his age in south Texas.
This thing we call “political correctness” happened in layers. First you couldn’t call black people the n-word. Then you couldn’t make suggestive comments to the women in your workplace without getting a sexual harassment complaint (do you remember how much evangelical Christians hated Anita Hill back in 1991?). And then we got to the 2000’s when using the word “gay” as a synonym for lame or stupid became a problem. And now there are preferred gender pronouns, Milo’s favorite thing to get outraged about.
Political incorrectness doesn’t have a thing to do with defending “traditional values.” It’s just about defending the right to be mean to other people. You don’t have to be an asshole to affirm traditional values. Pope Francis is probably the best witness of the Christian gospel in the world right now. He’s a gentle, beautiful soul who has respect from people of all spiritual backgrounds. Though I disagree with him on some issues, there’s no Christian leader whom I respect more deeply. And it’s because he’s not an asshole about his traditionalism that his papacy is called into question by people who normally consider popes to be infallible.
The past three decades have been a disaster for Christian evangelism in our country. So many millions of people have been driven away from the possibility of ever hearing the gospel by culture warriors who were fighting for the right to be mean. It’s time for a season of repentance, which shouldn’t be out of character since repentance is supposed to be the definitive quality of the Christian life.
Would you like to detoxify your Christianity this Lent? Check out my book How Jesus Saves the World From Us or our Facebook Live series #DetoxifyChristianity every Tuesday night at 9:30 pm EST / 6:30 pm PST.