Together we’ll have hell to pay

Together we’ll have hell to pay August 15, 2020

• RMJ at Adventus revisits some of Ralph Reed’s greatest hits.

Reed started out as the boy genius who orchestrated the rise of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition in its glory years, taking the data and connections from Robertson’s second-place-in-Iowa and third-place-in-New-Hampshire Republican primary campaigns and turning that into a money-making machine. But in the mid-’90s, Reed saw that there was even more money to be made “humping in corporate accounts” (his words) and pivoted to helping coordinate Jack Abramoff’s extortion-based lobbying efforts. Reed escaped prison only because he creeped out his co-conspirators so much that they never quite welcomed him into the inner circles of the scam.

That ought to have been the end of Reed’s career as any kind of public “religious” figure. He’d turned his back on that world, then spent years fleecing churches, church groups, and Native American tribes with open contempt for their vulnerability. He burned his bridges with the Christian religious right, sneered at them, and spent years mocking them for how much money he was able to con out of their offering plates. But then, somehow, he slipped right back into his earlier role as a sanctimonious media spokesman for “values voters” and “faith” and pious religiosity. And he managed to do that without any kind of redemption arc to explain away his years of cynical grifting and “humping in corporate accounts.” No rehab stint, no repentance or explanation or apology, no come-back-t0-Jesus moment recounted in some Zondervan hardcover in the biography section of every Christian bookstore (this was back a few years, when there were still Christian bookstores).

Ralph Reed just picked up right where he left off because, after all, he still had a huge direct-mail database of fearful white Christian suckers and, in white evangelical ecclesiology, that basically makes you a bishop.

• Evangelical colleges and seminaries are headed back to class — in person, on campus. Christianity Today’s Kate Shellnut looks at some of the efforts they’re taking to do this safely in a country that refuses to deal seriously with a raging pandemic. There are some good measures included here, and the general approach is laudable, grounding safety in the Golden Rule and respect for others. But this still all strikes me as reckless. After all, these same institutions now vowing to keep their campuses free of corona are the same institutions that have insisted, for generations, that their campuses are also free of sex and alcohol.

The really sad thing about that is that some of them may actually believe that, for all these years, their campuses are free of sex and alcohol.


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