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May 26, 2022

Jesus and John Wayne, A New From of Toxic Masculinity?

From an article in the Washington Post, by Michelle Boorstein in July of 2021, “Late last month, one of the accused Jan. 6 Capitol insurrectionists told a D.C. judge that she didn’t recognize his authority and was making a “divine special appearance.

“Pauline Bauer, Stephen Baker, and Jenna Ryan were among the thousands who descended on the Capitol in protest of what they falsely called a stolen election, including some who saw themselves engaged in a spiritual war […] For such people, their faith is individualistic, largely free of structures, rules or the approval of clergy.

There are several reasons people attacked the Capitol that day, but the most frightening to me is religion. Ms. Boorstein goes on to write, “But it’s part of the mix, say experts on American religion”, “the fact that the country is in a period when institutional religion is breaking apart, becoming more individualized and more disconnected from denominations, theological credentials, and oversight. That has created room for what Yale University sociologist Phil Gorski calls a religious “melee, a free for all.”

That in itself is scary enough when you consider how deeply affected people are by their religious beliefs. But when you think about the damage that these “Religious Rambo’s” can do, it’s downright horrifying.

But this is a natural end point in a trajectory that started with Martin Luther’s declaration of “Sola Scriptura – all one needs is the scriptures,” conflated with the unique American characteristic called radical individualism and we have folks like these showing up.

Even this wouldn’t be so bad if not for the current status of extreme rightwing Christianity as described by Dr. Kristin Du Mez, a Professor, and Christian herself, at Calvin University. In her book Jesus and John Wayne, she points out the not-so-obvious truth. At the extremes of Christian Evangelicalism, almost exclusively Republican, people cannot separate politics from their religious beliefs.

Actually, I’ve been talking about this fact on my radio show for a while now, but I don’t have her professional credentials, so let’s go with her findings. She points out that we’re seeing a kind of toxic Christian masculinity that influences the male members in good standing to own more guns, harbor an intense dislike for immigrants, and claim that police violence is over-emphasized in the press.  Why? Because it’s their job to protect the faith from someone, I’m not sure who. Wait, could it be infidels” Oh, no that’s the Muslims.

This observation isn’t my biggest worry. I’ll give that honor to the belief they think they know the mind of God. And that God has told them the political left, especially Democrats, are evil and must be defeated. Consequently, there can be no compromises, no negotiations. It’s their way or the highway.

Well, that might work fine in churches and even conservative families, where the man is the head of the household. But it’s a non-starter in politics and we have exactly that kind of nonsense going on right now in the Republican Party. In a plan to destroy democracy, the Republican Party is being used by Christian Dominionists to take over and establish a theonomy in America.

 

I dread the thought of where we seem to be going. If Roe v. Wade is rescinded, there’s far more at stake than the moral issue. It will be another blow to the equal rights extended to all Americans by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. And at an even more subtle level, the emergence of the old states’ rights conflict that has never really rested since the Civil War.

Ten years ago, I wrote a science fiction novel. While the action was sci-fi, the background was an America divided into two nations. Instead, I’m beginning to think we will become a nation of loosely associated states. That is if these Christian Evangelicals cannot ease their fears that somewhere, someone might be enjoying themselves.

 

 

 

 

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