March 29 Flashback: ‘Controversial’

March 29 Flashback: ‘Controversial’ March 29, 2022

For 20 years now, this blog has maintained the distinction between a “blog” and a “post.”

From March 29, 2014, “The tribe has no right-wing boundary: Liberty University is not ‘controversial’“:

The gatekeepers of the white evangelical tribe do not patrol that tribe’s far-right boundary because it has no far-right boundary.

The slightest deviation in a “liberal” direction from the Stances approved by tribal gatekeepers may result in being branded “controversial” — or even in being expelled and banished from the tribe. Question whether bullying gays is really something that belongs in the kingdom of God and you’re a dangerously “controversial” liberal. Use that biblical phrase “kingdom of God” too much, and you’re a dangerously “controversial” liberal. Apologize for such controversial statements, beg for forgiveness from the gatekeepers, and explain that, yes, of course you believe that bullying gays is a central pillar of our faith, but you were just maybe wondering if perhaps, just maybe, caring for the poor wasn’t equally important … and you will still be branded a dangerously “controversial” liberal.

But here’s an example of the sort of talk that is perfectly acceptable within the white evangelical tribe. This is from Mat Staver and Matt Barber:

STAVER: This whole Obamacare issue really shows the radicalism of the death culture and it’s being led by the President and his wife and his administration.

Michelle Obama, she spoke to so-called Obamacare counselors, people that are receiving taxpayer money, millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars actually going to Planned Parenthood to sign up people for Obamacare, and she says “you are doing God’s work.” Quote “you are doing God’s work.”

BARBER: It’s jaw-dropping.

STAVER: This is reminiscent of going back to Hitler. You’re doing God’s work? To what? To put people in these plans that actually kill children? That force employers to fund abortion and take innocent human lives? That’s God’s work? This is perverted. This is a perverted administration and a perverted president.

BARBER: This is evil. It’s evil. And Michelle Obama, anybody who could say that, is an evil human being. Those are evil words, that’s an evil sentiment, and I cannot believe that Michelle Obama would say that “you’re doing God’s work” by dismembering alive innocent pre-born children. It is Hitlerian.

What prompted this? Michelle Obama visited a community health center in Miami. It is a place that provides health care for poor people. It is not an abortion clinic.

The Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — boosts funding for community health centers. It does not provide funding for abortion. It does not allow funding for abortion. The ACA actually prohibits funding for abortion — double-plus prohibits it, as anyone who can remember all the way back to 2010 will recall, since the bill’s passage was accompanied by an executive order explaining that the bit in the law prohibiting abortion funding means that abortion funding is prohibited.

Matt Barber and Mat Staver know this. They are lying.

But right-wing lies are not “controversial” in the white evangelical tribe. Lies about Planned Parenthood are not “controversial,” but mandatory.

Barber and Staver aren’t telling little lies here. They’re not exaggerating for effect. They are stating that providing health care for poor communities of Americans is morally indistinct from Hitler.

They are also denouncing the first lady for praising those who provide health care for the poor because providing health care for the poor is, in their words, “perverted” and “evil.”

Matt Barber is an associate dean at the Liberty University School of Law. Mat Staver is the vice president of the Liberty University School of Law. They are both also key players in the school’s “Liberty Counsel” — a parachurch fundraising and lobbying group. They also co-host a “Christian”-market talk-radio program called “Faith & Freedom” which is broadcast on dozens of “Christian”-market radio stations.

But no matter what outrageous things these men say, and no matter how often those outrageous statements are repeated and endorsed by all those institutions, none of that will ever bring a shadow of “controversy” within the white evangelical tribe.

Matt Barber is not and never will be “controversial” within the white evangelical tribe. Mat Staver is not and never will be “controversial” within the white evangelical tribe. Liberty University is not and never will be “controversial” within the white evangelical tribe. Liberty Counsel is not and never will be “controversial” within the white evangelical tribe. Right-wing, “Christian”-market talk radio is not and never will be “controversial” within the white evangelical tribe.

Why? Because they’re right-wing extremists.

The white evangelical tribe has no right wing boundary.

“Evil” and “perverted” liberals with their evil, perverted health care for poor people and their marriage equality and their feminism will be policed and punished by the tribal gatekeepers. Matt Barber and Mat Staver never will be. Franklin Graham never will be. Ralph Reed and Al Mohler and Phil Robertson never will be.

Because the white evangelical tribe has no right wing boundary.

That’s why so-called “mainstream” evangelicals — the Christianity Today crowd, et. al. — are not persuading anyone that they’re actually “mainstream.” Either they agree with the Barbers, Stavers, Franklin Grahams, Mohlers, Reeds, et ceteras, of the far-right fringe, or else they’re just too scared of getting Ciziked and World-Visioned to say anything.

Either way, that’s why the white evangelical tribe has no moral credibility.

Read the whole post here.


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