Only one poll
Only one poll is necessary to explain the depths to which American Christian influence has fallen. A recent Marist poll (September 24th, 2018) asked the following question:
If the charge of sexual assault during a party in high school byMarist Poll, page 17
Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh is true, do you think
Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the US Supreme Court / should not be confirmed / unsure.
Seems pretty straightforward: if the sexual assault is TRUE and HAPPENED, then should an unrepentant attempted rapist be voted into a lifetime of judging other rapists (including many the next few buildings over from the Supreme Court). The total spread of American adult responses was:
29% should be confirmed / 59% should not be confirmed / 12% unsure
That seems about right: a majority saying unrepentant violence against women should disqualify people from public service. That seems like a society I could live in.
But there was a segment of the poll that was very disturbing.
The Immoral Majority
By far, the largest group that was the most divergent from the national polling was self-identified White Evangelical Christians (first noticed by Hemant Mehta). Look at their responses:
If the charge of sexual assault during a party in high school by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh is true,
White Evangelical Christians respond:
48% YES, Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the US Supreme CourtMarist Poll, page 17
36% NO, Brett Kavanaugh should not be confirmed
So the question says that the sexual assault was TRUE.
TRUE. ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
And White Evangelical Christians, the same ones who undoubtedly thought that moral failings disqualified other people from public service (usually the other party) or pulpit preaching, said that actual, verifiable, true sexual assault was not a disqualifier for public office.
We have truly entered into an ugly stage of Christianity: one that is willing to excuse violence against women, and indeed enshrine it into two of the three branches of government at the highest level.
Enter the Interregnum
Whenever a Pope dies, the Roman Catholic Church has a period of time before they name a new successor. It’s called the interregnum, meaning a “gap” in the leadership of the church. This “gap time” also takes place between monarchs, elected regimes, and parish priests assuming their authority.
The term can be applied to institutions and social structures when they are in a period of transition. A recent article called the current political situation in the United States an interregnum:
The Italian philosopher, Gramsci defined the concept well: “The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum many morbid symptoms arise.” [There is a] sense of being trapped between a dying establishment and a new order that is not quite formed…We know the change is going to come. It’s just a matter of how bitter the resistance is going to be.”
Today, we are in the interregnum of American Christianity. The old Moral Majority has not yet died, and the new Religious Left has not yet risen to influence. In this interim time, the now Moral Minority will embrace, justify, and excuse any behavior so long as it keeps it funded and on the air. And that means it will excuse violence against women, violence against abortion clinics, and officials lying to the public in order to keep creeping along.
Amidst the myriad harm this causes to women and minorities, it also affects Christian pastors like me that share the title with the Christians and the Pastors on TV that claim to speak for Christian truth when their truth of Resurrection is stuck in the “dead but not yet dispatched” stage. “Morbid systems arise,” indeed.
What can we do?
Organizations will only reflect on their failings when they are out of power and their constituencies demand accountability for “losing” (there is no accountability while “winning”). So the only way to combat this morbid system that excuses violence against women is to remove it from influence. For example:
- Support the Christian Left writers, speakers, preachers, and systems of churches that proclaim and advocate for progressive Christian tenets. They may not be your people overall, but until the violent Christians are out of power, supporting the #2 perspective is the best chance for redemption of Christianity as a whole.
- Support the rebels: the members of the conservative industrial complex that have renounced their party.
Exvangelicals(former evangelicals) like Rachel Held Evans and Jen Hatmaker, as well as insider voices like Beth Moore (yes, really) are helpful voices with credibility to this wing of Christianity.
- Pay attention to the books being read in your congregation. What are your people reading and studying? Is there a John Piper article discussed weekly in one class that could benefit from another perspective? Take a look at what your people are actually reading instead of assuming it is not supporting violence against women.
Only when the New has been born will the morbid system weaken, and the chance for credibility increase.
I repent for my faith tradition that degrades women, elects people who have abused women, supports elected officials who nominate people who have credible allegations of assault, and who pass laws that degrade women’s abilities and rights.
I am sorry. And I am trying to make things better through this interregnum time. I hope you join me in listening to women, advocating for women, and turning that 48% to 0% in a single generation.
Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing on social media.