Posts Tagged ‘Exvangelical’


Sometimes, in some settings, and for some folks, there is a far remembrance of the simplicity of times past. Whether they lived through them or not. Especially being in a historic moment of flux, that has been exacerbated by enforced living of slow, due to c-tine. Now the silence where the loving quiet voice of the Holy Mystery can speak directly, powerfully, through the gremlins and powervangelical cults that have attempted to control our world.

Simpler times, when things were black and white. Whether old Western movie motif of white hats and black hats, or old War Movies where it was clear who was on the side of Angels, (and that lesson we still need to re-learn) Nazis are evil. It was this bedrock that created a power cult movement throughout Christendom, in the mid-20th to early 1/5th 21st Century CE in America (with some echoes in Canada, though more limited due to the mid-20th Century Quiet Revolution in Quebec, and I would honestly say, an action taken in honest Truth and Reconciliation in regards to the atrocious treatment of First Peoples through heretical doctrines, but I digress). This reflection comes out of reading a book that had kernels of genesis with the above song, Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s (2020) Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation that takes the reader through the history of the rise of the Moral Majority (and religious right); the toxic patriarchal masculinity (and ensuing abuse cover ups) that led into conversion from Christ to Trump as the messiah (which we say the outcome with the Capitol Hill insurrection).

It truly is a movement based in a trite irony of WWJWD- What Would John Wayne Do. Not rooted in the Biblical Leadership of applying the Sermon on the Mount, but rather couched in language of war and sports to show what alpha masculinity is about. A faith corrupted by the seeking of absolute power in the land with touchstones in Campus Crusade, Fundamentalism, Conservative Christendom, Focus on the Family (with Franklin Graham’s rampant Trumpism I would have to add Samaritan’s Purse); and many mega-churches and Christian Universities, not to mention the concept of “school choice” which was and is leveraged to perpetuate home schools, private and charter schools designed to teach only the fundamentalist perspective as the new era Pharisees-Sadducees evangelicalism and neo-reformed theology (ala Mars Hill and Willow Creek if you will).

Du Mez takes the reader through the historic roots of the use of religion for pollical power, whether it was Nixon, or Reagan (who many say as a lesser and more problematize Christian candidate compared to Carter, yet in spite of Reagan’s contrariness to doctrine fit a more masculine image). Using the connecting point of John Wayne as chief evangelist to a robust “masculine” form that was responding against the more, I would say, gospel coming world of belonging with equality of genders, and races…this became a lightning rod. A throwback to a mythic time when roles were defined, when men were in charge, when children were silent. This style of command and control was in the political realm as well, as the evangelical vote moved from the Democrats and more liberalized in their approach, to succumbing to not traditional denominatiolism, but rather corporate Christendom movements (ala Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers in the 1990’s). These uber movements became overarching through spiritual communities, dropped the thresh hold of spiritual formation responsibility from the local church, to meeting a litmus test of centralized power. It used heresies such as purity movements, complementarianism, to make everything about the alpha male, and keep women in the second class. Not all bought in, but when it came to the idea of having a winning candidate in an already divided nation, it became easy to coalesce around one.

Why do I personally call out the purity/betrothal movements for heresy? Essentially they removed the equality we are created in the Imageo Dei, but also it again created a narrative of property. In practice it also created a dangerous dating/sexual life world for many within those movements taught that vaginal sex was for marriage, but also that you had to fall into line with the male (imagine what else can happen that is not vaginal, but for not spreading disease still needs health sex positive education?). It also created the same conditions seen in schools with teachers/students; other religious traditions and clerics, sports teams coaches and players that attracted monsters. Complementarianism at its worse is the idea that women are to complement men, the weaker sex who need to be protected, and to take anything the patriarchy puts out, but everything is to be done to keep men happy for we are of the fragile ego and have no control over our emotions or impulses.

It created a code of silence where domestic violence was forgiven, victims were blamed, and sexual abuse of minors and others was covered up for the reputation of the man. It was a world where the love of power and money allowed for monsters to hide, and be elected to highest office. A shell game. A game of distraction. Yet one that began to crumble after 2016 thankfully. As a piece of Christendom that always spoke snidely of those Christianities that took care to protect after seeing the devils in our own pews and pulpits, was now revealed for the Satans they were hiding behind the light shows and sound stages.

Du mez’s book walks through the specifics that happen when agency is lost, but also from my reading what happens when fear is injected into life at such a deep level a false narrative becomes held as truth. The false narrative being the “persecution of the church”. Never true in North America. Yet perpetuated with every change, that it is an attack on religious freedom. As you continue to remove outlets for other learning and messaging (the importance of moving away from public schools), and the locking in of one political party where you are to exist, one body your are to be apart of and one person who speaks…

Dash in the challenges of life on top of that, as well as chasing the false capitalist narrative of want…

And you have a meta-narrative of a cult like structure founded not on Jesus’ teachings, love, and victory over death, but rather on the love of money, power and rape (to be less blunt, one’s own sexual gratification regardless of consent or pleasure or legality of one’s partners).

Now it is a moment of disruption. Could this be one so many churches (and other organizations) are against distance to protect neighbour? Because it disrupts the abuse, allows space for truth to emerge, for light to shine into the darkness and confuse it? It also allows for a pause to evaluate the course of life in light of one’s actual faith. See one may approach a work like Jesus and John Wayne as a tomb about separation of church and state.

But see, for me this is an impossibility. What is needed is a separation of control of state by church or corporation.

For healthy politics, and communal life, what is needed is one to honestly live their belief system. Not veil it behind false masks or iconography. Rather, be who you truly are, let the world see one’s true self. There are many things that I can tell you I have come to through discernment based on my core values, which have been shaped by how I was raised, my life experience and my beliefs. From fully funded Public School to Universal/Public Health Care to Harm Reduction to recovery continuum of care to Homes as a human right to Universal Basic Incomes to Pharmacare to action needed on climate change to healthy sexual education to full coverage of contraceptive to being pro-choice to….the list can go on and on…but there is nuance, understanding and discussions that have happened. It is not a quick tweet understanding of the topic, it has been a journey or learning and understanding. It is in learning, discussion and growth that we disrupt and interrupt the consumerist mindset of life that is settling in, but also the dualistic thinking (for my side to be right, the other has to be completely evil) that still perpetuates the worst Christendom has to offer in the political arena.

I encourage everyone interested to pick up and read this book, but then reflect on your own political situation where you live and honestly ask, who is your nation’s John Wayne archetype/narrative that Jesus has been tied to?

How do we complete the Quiet Revolution, and get back to or achieve Sermon on the Mount style leadership?