Evangelical Imperialism

by | Jul 13, 2023 | Politics | 15 comments

GOP legislators have introduced a bill that would transfer full control of public education to the evangelical community. This is not the banner under which they’ve brandished the legislation; their marketing consists, as usual, of pablum referring to “parents’ rights.” But the parents to whom they are referring are perfectly unambiguous: white people who identify as born-again Protestants. These are the people seeking a kind of cultural irredentism in our country.

The details of this bill are appalling but beyond the scope of my article. What matters more is the suite of implications that evangelical aggression has for the present and past of Republican Party politics. As so often happens in the politics of a Southern state, this legislation evokes ugly memories of our nation’s Civil-War trauma. After the war, Southern whites were discredited in the eyes of other Americans. It was broadly understood for a century after the Civil War that a Southerner could not be elected president, which explains the burst of euphoria that exploded in Southern hearts when Jimmy Carter brought respectability back to Dixie.

Trump, the most intense malefactor American politics has seen since the Confederate insurgency, had a similar discrediting effect on white evangelicals. Both whites and evangelicals have been in long-term demographic decline in our country, but the fall from dominance seen in the born-again community has been particularly striking to see. In 2004, 40% of Americans identified as evangelical Protestants. By the late 2010s that number had fallen below 20% nationally, and even in the North Carolina Republican primary electorate only 37% of voters frequented evangelical churches. Already dwindling as a share of the population, evangelicals’ strong support from a lewd fascist completed their decline into a marginalized subculture.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand,” said Frederick Douglass, but sometimes even a challenge to privilege only invites vicious backlash. That pattern of belligerence has erupted with tremendous force in the cultural-politics arena. Aghast at their loss of hegemony, evangelicals are using the ironclad political alliance they have forged with Trump Republicans to strike back at a changing America. They are attempting to reverse-engineer social changes that have alarmed and enraged them.

Interestingly, the evangelical strategy has taken mirror-image form relative to what they imagine their progressive opponents are doing. Evangelical conservatives are apoplectic at the supposed campaign by progressives to commandeer and revolutionize every American institution. As if public schools were the Disney Corporation, evangelicals are using the force of legislation to impose their values on public education in America, even to the point, in North Carolina, of allowing conservative parents to recall and fire superintendents. They’ve turned New College Florida into a conservative indoctrination instrument. And for all Ron DeSantis’s arcane fulminations about “gender ideology,” red-state legislators are imposing their own gender ideology–the ideology of the binary–on young transgender people.

I believe this backlash will dissolve into vapor. The fact is that America is becoming a more compassionate society with a culture that welcomes and values marginalized groups with a tenderness not seen in the Bush years. Evangelicals can screech about wokeness, but they will not persuade most Americans to abandon the liberalizing creed that has taken root in our multicultural century. Our institutions, however, are built to allow a provincial white-male minority faction to rule the nation, an artifact of the pre-modern precepts that held sway among the Constitution’s framers. The god-and-gun right has the tools to recover more privilege than they deserve.


  1. Wayne

    I never said, nor did I imply, ‘every man for himself’. You said that. You implied that.

    What I DID say is that Republicans support the concept of individual liberty and personal freedom. In addition, what I ALSO said is that regardless of those ideals of individual liberty and personal freedom for all, Republicans still support the ideal of bipartisan cooperation.

    Republicans engaged in ‘insurrection’…? Excuse me, but what do you think Democrat activists have done?? Do you not recall over a 1,000 protestors invading the Tennessee capital building in March in an anti-gun demonstration, with three Democrat Representatives urging them on from the Capital floor with bullhorns….?

    Do you not recall February thru July of 2020, where thousands of rioters and BLM protestors stormed the Federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, causing $2.3 million dollars in damage…?

    How about those 700-plus ‘demonstrators’ in Oakland, in July 2020, who set fire to a courthouse, set a police station on fire, and shot fireworks at police officers…?

    According to a Department of Homeland Security report, over 200 Federal buildings were damaged because of Black Lives Matter protests between May and July of 2020 due to arson, vandalism, and looting. Those ‘protests’ caused approximately $1–2 billion in damages nationally, the highest recorded damage from civil disorder in U.S. history.

    Those BLM clowns are YOUR activists, Cocodog—they rioted, looted, pillaged, and burned with the blessings of the DEMOCRAT Party—not the Republican Party! And WHY on earth would I look at ANY article in the New York Times?? That rag is a discredited collection of lies, hyperbole, and unsupportable innuendo. Gee—anyone remember how enthusiastically the NYT embraced the ‘Russia Collusion’ narrative which has since been proven to be an outright lie…? Yeahhh, I think we can all agree that the NYT is nothing more than a propaganda mouthpiece for the Democrat Party.

    You claim Republicans are setting the stage for a dictatorship, and yet you somehow seem mysteriously incapable of recognizing that ever since Biden has been in office, he (or—more accurately—his handlers) have persistently attempted to centralize and strengthen the extent of authority and power of the Federal government in virtually every single aspect of American life, whether it be education, the military, the pharmaceutical industry, the economic and business sector…we could go on….

    This fumbling, corrupt old fossil whom Democrats have elected to the White House is quite obviously doing the bidding, and functions at the behest of, several foreign governments to whom he is personally and financially indebted. Without question, it is Joe Biden and the apparatchiks which props him up that are attempting to eliminate the concept of constitutional representation in America. It is Biden and his lackeys that are colluding with foreign governments, along with members of the crime syndicate known as The Biden Family. Apparently, Democrats only listen to CNN or MSNBC, and are blissfully unaware of the staggering stench of corruption surrounding this perverted old fool. Good luck living in the banana republic that DEMOCRATS have now created under the inept, feeble leadership that YOU voted for!

    • cocodog

      Wayne, I do not say something and imply it. An oxymoron. This word also explains your analysis of unlawful civil disturbances. There is no creditable evidence connecting the Democratic Party with any of those unlawful activities. By creditable evidence I mean evidence that would stand up in court. An oblique hint, remote allusion is not evidence. Fox Noise, which has been proven to broadcast false and misleading information and paid millions in damages to folks injured by their untruths has tried unsuccessfully to make the connection. In the past I said, not implied, that if you set out to attack anything, be sure of your facts and make dammed sure your own skirts are clean. Trump, your glorious leader, has more than a passive involvement in that Jan. 6 attack on the Capital. Prior to the attack, Trump met with the insurrectionist, stirred them up. Trump was also involved in promoting the BIG LIE. You know the false belief that he won the election. The folks who attack the capital were carrying Trump signs, and Bear spray which they used to assault and batter Capital cops while wearing those ridiculous Trump baseball caps.
      Antifa is a word uninformed folks who lack understanding of social movements like to link to Democrats. Both Republican and Democratic politicians have denounced any destructive activity conducted by those folks. Republican attack groups like to connect Democrats with Antifa. But nothing could be more inaccurate. The word Antifa is a contraction of anti-fascist. If your into fascists, group could offend you. To accuse Democrats as encouraging the BLM movement to engage in destructive activities is another lie. You cannot say Biden or any of his supporters called them together, stirred them up and sent them out to destroy property and injury folks. I recommend you step back, see what these upcoming criminal actions reveal. We will all be interested in what a jury of Trumps peers have to say about his shenanigans. He may be doing time in Club Fed along with marry little band of supporters.

  2. Gregory Weeks

    There is a special place in Hell for these so-called Evangelical “christians.”

  3. cocodog

    Wayne, have you read the preamble to the US Constitution? “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” These words place an obligation on the government. Republicans according to you believe in rugged individualism. Every man for themselves. The hell with promoting domestic tranquility or general welfare. Survival of the fittest. The hell with the country. Just give me my AR15 Assault weapon and a Bible somebody has interpreted for me, and I am good to go. So far what have Republicans done, engaged in insurrection, injuring police officers, destroying historical paintings, and defecating in the hallways of our capital, scratched obscene words into marble walls of the senate. You should look at the latest NY Times. There is a great article on Republicans plans to create a dictatorship if reelected. Based on what on what you have been writing, I would recommend you may want to move to a banana republic with the leadership you admire. PLEASE, TAKE THAT ORANGE CLOWN and his 1950s hairdo WITH YOU!

  4. Wayne

    If there is any single, biggest difference between the Democrat Party and the Republican Party, it is the fact that the Republican Party emphasizes the idea of individual liberty and freedom. The Democrat Party, on the contrary, seems wedded to the idea of a ‘collective good’—an agenda which emphasizes conformity to a single ideology or viewpoint, or whatever happens to be the popular topic du jour. Thus, while Republicanism emphasizes the individual over the collective in terms of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it does not reject the idea of cooperation.

    More and more, North Carolina Republicans are persuaded that we have become the principled alternative to the Democrat Party. We are certain, and we are firm, in our core beliefs and in our social and moral values. I continue to be fascinated by conversations that I have had with Democrat voters who have angrily noted, “I can’t vote for these people! I didn’t leave the Democrat Party—THEY left ME!”

    Looking at the larger picture, and not just at North Carolina voters, I think it is reasonable to note that as Republicans, we see people—as individuals—of worth, of value, and of potential. More and more, however, the Democrat Party sees people as ‘victims’ of something, or as an oppressed class of one sort or another. In other words, Democrats see people as a useful ‘tool’, to be manipulated and exploited for partisan gain. While I am confident you will certainly deny that, the conversations I have had, the phone calls I have received, and the staggering amount of conservative news media noting the same thing is incontrovertible! Democrats—sad to say—have become their own worst enemies, and I believe that your current crop of politicians, and your prospective candidates for office, will only serve to drive away more conservative, constitutionally principled voters from even listening to your (so-called) ‘progressive agenda for America. The Democrat Party has aggressively abandoned America, and positioned themselves as a party that clearly favors strong, authoritarian governance, and which clearly adheres to an agenda that is in direct contradiction to the ideals of most voting Americans. This will not end well for you.

  5. Mike L

    It’s an old joke, but there are two types of Republicans: those who want to live in the 1950s and those that want to live in the 1850s.

  6. ctw

    Mr. Jones, did you compensate Wayne in any way for stepping in here and provide living proof of your premise?

  7. Randy Guptill

    Hey Wayne. Get some help.

  8. cocodog

    When will Republicans realize that waging these culture wars is not productive? They simply do not win elections by persecuting women who are forced to have an abortion, harassing the gay community for simply being gay and downgrading religions other than their own. Referring to folks who may not have their point of view as Marxist-Communists is nonproductive and highly inaccurate. Socialism/Marxism/Communism are words that fire up hate and discontent but have extraordinarily little in common. It may surprise folks who rail on about the evils of these terms to know that Marxism-Communism has never worked as an economic system. Both Russia and China have made changes in the basic concepts to allow private ownership of property and individual enterprise.
    Moreover, it may come as a shocker that Socialism is alive and living in every modern country on this planet.
    In the US, examples of Socialism are the US Post Office started by that old Socialist Ben Franklin. Social Security started by a Democratic president to curb poverty among seniors or Medicare signed into law by a Democratic president to prevent seniors on a fixed income from losing everything to a price gouging medical operator or money hungry Drug Company.
    If Republicans stop catering to the weirdos and malcontents, an emphasize what made this country great, they may start winning again. I remember when Republicans advocated for lower taxes, building business and law and order, but today they are into assaulting and killing police officers at the capital, de funding the FBI because they dare to investigate a gifting, traitorous, lying, rapist that lays claim to your leadership. Blocking military promotions because of an abortion policy is childish and dangerous to the security of this country.

  9. Wayne

    The utter lack of intellectual competency which Jones exhibits in his latest screed is borderline pathetic, let alone hypocritical to the core. Let’s address some of his ‘talking points’:

    Thru-out his narrative, Jones quite clearly suggests that the NC Parents Bill of Rights is nothing more than a hateful attempt by religious conservatives (and he targets Protestants) to roll back the educational opportunities of LGBTQ/’gay’/’transgender’/minority kids, solely to benefit ‘white kids’. What Jones seems incapable of comprehending thru his bigoted viewpoint is that OTHER religious groups (such as the Jewish and the Muslim demographic) are EQUALLY appalled at the constant, unrelenting, 24/7, centralized focus on these mentally deranged individuals, as though only THEIR ‘viewpoint’, THEIR moral compass, should be the benchmark for educational and cultural focus. I can assure you, Mr. Jones—96% of the normal population thru-out NC, as well as thru-out the United States, is heartily fed up with the daily diet of sexual stupidity being vomited by the media and thru educational institutions, solely to appease and stroke the fragile egos of these distorted individuals. The other 4% are delusional extremists like yourself, who seem obsessed with legitimizing sexual content into the educational curricula.
    If Jones is worried about pressure from the evangelical Right upsetting the cultural norms which the Marxist Leftists embrace, then perhaps he might reflect on the provable truth that—if a society, and the culture that defines that society—are allowed to erode into sexual deviancy, that society, that culture, and ultimately that nation, will unquestionably topple. There is NO question whatsoever that our Western Civilization is under attack by progressive extremists whose clear intent is to diminish, dismantle, and ultimately to destroy the Judeo-Christian culture upon which America was predicated. We are a representative constitutional republic, and that offends these Marxist Liberals. Their intent is to usher in a more perfect world—THEIR world—predicated on socialist/communist concepts of equity that have no logical relationship to a meritocratic, capitalist country such as ours. These sorts of zealots believe Americans should be ‘subjects’—devoted to, and showing fealty, to a benevolent, compassionate, centralized government which will provide for their every need. That’s crap, and you know it, Jones.
    If ANYone is ‘indoctrinating’ people, it is not the evangelical Right, nor any other religious identity. It is the Marxist Liberal Left, and their uneducated, idiotic minions who screech over the usual Leftist talking points, like abortion rights, getting rid of firearms, discarding any semblance of a southern border, getting rid of the police, don’t you dare put criminals in jail, and don’t you DARE try to move all those drug-addled homeless scum off the sidewalks! Yeahhh, Jones—your gasping, hyperventilating terror over a ‘provincial white-male minority faction’ somehow taking over our nation and imposing THEIR notions of a nation predicated on the moral and ethical values that have undergirded the civilizational values of our nation could be the single BEST thing to ever happen to it!

    • kay

      It’s rich you screeching about Marxist Liberals and how they are all against the Judeo Christian beliefs and then you have the unmitigated gall to talk about sexual deviancy when daily there is news of the latest white- christian male who has abused a child or woman, possessed child pornography all the while talking about how much they love Jesus! The problem you seem to be totally oblivious to is the 1st amendment, we have FREEDOM of religion and that means the government can’t force their religious beliefs or non-beliefs on the people No one is telling you not to practice your religion but don’t force your religion on the rest of us. This parents bill of right is a load of horse -pocky and you know it..our kids certainly haven’t come back from their 2 years at home with parents in charge of their education…what about the parents of gay or trans kids? Where’s their rights?

    • John M

      The expected polemic diatribe from a low intelligent deplorable, filled with coded words like Marxist Leftists and socialist/communist. Rest assured, little’ Wayne, I know who my enemies are – people exactly like you. And I intend to treat them as such. Why don’t you go pleasure yourself with your Trump poster- or would that be there other authoritative wanna-be De Slither.

    • Norma Munn

      Wayne: Never in my 80 plus years of reading viewpoints from the radical left to the conservative Wall Street Journal regularly have I read such nonesense. Differing viewpoints are welcome. In fact, I would say essential to a democracy. But a modicum of intelligent thinking is also needed.

      • cocodog

        I recommend Wayne apologize to Jones, before folks mention the lengthy list of Republican politicians who are poster children for hypocrisy. Republican politicians hold themselves out to be good Christians but participate in misdeeds ranging from solicitation of an undercover vice officer in an airport restroom to pedophilia. There is an old saying, if you set out to accuse another of impropriety, be dammed sure of your facts and make sure your own house is clean.

  10. cocodog

    The republican party is transactional. Unless they can see something that serves their needs to raise money and hold on to power, historically they ignore it. Turing over the state’s educational system to the evangelical community offers endless possibilities. Creating new customers for private companies that do turnkey set ups. These companies make millions. They market their services to individuals seeking to make a dollar, as well as churches wishing to educate the children of their flock in the ways of the religion or their understanding of religion. These turnkey companies make large contributions either directly or indirectly to politicians who support their efforts. The advantages of a private school are low operating expenses, (no need to provide student transportation to and from school, no need for free or reduced cost meals for students of low-income families, no need to hire credentialed administrators and teaching staff or provide retirement or medical benefits. No need to offer a free education to any kid who walks through the door. Forget offering special educational services to a child with learning difficulties. No need for a locally elected board of education. The company will provide for fee somebody from the head office to run things.

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