An Essay About the Perils The Christian Left Community Faces, Past and Present
Mary knew what was about to happen. The Good News was coming and she knew it. She spelled it out in no uncertain terms.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” — (Luke 1: 46-55)
Jesus came into this world at the height of Roman domination. Rome controlled everything in the Western world. Everything. The Holy Spirit created a way for the Good News to get through anyway, and it spread throughout the planet by every unlikely means imaginable. We are able to access the Good News to this day because whenever barriers were thrown up the Holy Spirit created a way to circumvent any and all impediments.
Jesus assumed the human condition as one of the ‘least of these’ he later spoke of in Matthew 25. His mother's contemporaries wanted to execute her when they heard she was pregnant with Jesus. Mary and Joseph had to have a shotgun wedding and Jesus was born in a barn. Soon after his birth they all had to flee to Egypt as political refugees to avoid Jesus being killed.
The Good News Sidelined
For the last 40 years the Christian faith in the US has been dominated by the Christian right. In the late 70’s conservative operatives like Paul Weyrich and Jerry Falwell managed to conflate the Good News with extreme right-wing ideology and the Republican party. Weyrich was the co-founder the conservative think tanks The Heritage Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He coined the term “moral majority,” which was also the name of the political action group called Moral Majority that he co-founded with Falwell in 1979. Turns out racism was behind the motivation of Weyrich and his cohorts but not many people know that. The above linked article in this paragraph outlines the entire history. It was a highly effective endeavor.
Today 80% of white evangelicals are stanch Republicans, so much so that most believe in order to be a Christian there is no other alternative than to be a Republican as well. The Heritage Foundation and ALEC are more powerful than ever and are currently engaged in an unprecedented effort to write voter suppression bills and distribute them to Republican state legislators nationwide.
When the Christian right assumed power the Good News was quickly sidelined. Now the faith was about who you were voting for and what your stance was on the obscure, strawman issues of abortion and same sex marriage. Two things Jesus never said one word about became the litmus test of being allowed in the fold. The new entanglement of Christendom and right-wing conservatism received the full-throated endorsement of the captains of industry. The Coors family was a major financial backer.
It makes sense that the titans of the economic landscape would be very pleased with the new arrangement. The church became an powerful partner! All of the sudden the political party they favored was God's party too! And God was in favor of unfettered capitalism, just like the Republican party! The only use for government was to have a military force capable of protecting us! Other than that everyone is on their own! What it really amounts to is jungle economics. It's the survival if the fittest. Self-interest reigns superior (Ayn Rand has always been popular with this crowd). 'Let the church take care of the poor, the sick and the oppressed. That's what they're there for. The poor are kind of lazy anyway. We can't be bothered with their well-being. We have nations to conquer and empires to build ...' It is antithetical to everything Jesus ever taught.
We don't get it. We never have. The only way it can be understood is that it was a power grab, and it worked. It tapped in to some deep-seated undercurrents in the American story. It spread like wildfire in the white evangelical church.
The New Normal
A billion dollar messaging empire was set up with books, magazines, radio and television. It remains in place to this day. It succeeded in establishing Christianity in the United States as the religion of empire. Laissez-faire capitalism is an unspoken central tenet of its traditions. The actual teachings of Jesus are rarely, if ever, spoken about. Throughout the years people have been denied the sacraments if they vote the wrong way. If they’ve expressed support for progressive issues or candidates they have been shunned and told they can’t be Christians and liberals. While such retribution may not be a universal phenomenon it is by no means the exception among white evangelicals.
The story linked directly below illustrates perfectly how one US political party cares about the least of these and one doesn't. It's just that simple. We cover this kind of thing every day.
The Democratic plan to smash poverty for seniors and people with disabilities (vox.com)
When a Democratic candidate was elected president after the Christian right arose to dominance, an entire media empire was set up to tar and feather him. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh emerged onto the cultural landscape. The Christian right couldn’t get enough of it and they tuned in by the tens of millions. A lot of people got rich from the popularity of the new conservative media empire, which only fueled its growth. George W. Bush was ushered into power as a result of support from the Christian right.
After 8 years of Bush, so many people were weary of war (and all the lies told to drag us into them) that one Barack Hussein Obama was elected president, a black man. The Christian right and their Republican representatives in the house and senate huddled on the sidelines and vowed to oppose everything he tried to do as president, everything, no matter what it was, even if it was something they had supported in the past. Mitch McConnell turned the filibuster into the ultimate weapon of gridlock. He threw it up every single time president Obama tried to advance legislation.
At the end of his presidency, in an unprecedented move, McConnell flat out refused to even consider the president's supreme court nominee. The Christian right was ecstatic! They had turned the American political landscape into an all-out tribal war. Winning was the singular objective. Retaining power the only thing that mattered. The Good News was relegated to greeting cards. The least of these were classified as lazy freeloaders, undeserving of things like healthcare. The words of Jesus were completely disregarded.
Enter Social Media
One year after the election of Barack Obama we noticed a distinct break in the edifice the Christian right had erected around its messaging empire. Social media had emerged. We viewed it as revolutionary and we seized the opportunity. We secured the domain name of TheChristianLeft.org and set up the related social media pages and channels. We resolved to put the actual words of Jesus front and center, come what may. The Hoy Spirit had created a path for the Good News to get through. The Christian right didn’t like that at all.
We’re not the only ones engaged in this struggle but in the era of social media we were early participants. How do we know the Holy Spirit is behind the opening of our path? We know because the message we carry is centered around the actual words of Jesus, period. We spend each day holding up contemporary issues in culture and politics and evaluating them based on what Jesus actually taught. Others noticed the power of social media as well, namely one Donald J. Trump.
The trolling was relentless for the first 8 years. It never let up. Every single day people would show up and tell us, “There is no such thing as The Christian Left,” “The Christian Left is an oxymoron,” “You can’t be a Christian and a liberal,” “Shame on you! Take this down! It’s blasphemy!” “How dare you call yourself Christians and support marriage equality and a woman’s autonomy over her own medical decisions?!” “Who are you anyway?” “You’re NOT Christians!” “We’re going to report you to Facebook!” “Are you a nonprofit? We’re going to report you to the IRS right now!” Fortunately for us we received wise counsel early on not to set up as a nonprofit for this very reason. We didn’t want to be muzzled in any way in terms of speaking truth to power.
It hasn’t been unheard of over the years for members of our admin team to get death threats or have our families threatened. That’s one of the reasons we haven’t put ourselves front and center in this ministry. We don’t hide who we are, but we don’t parade ourselves around either. It’s never been about us anyway. The Good News is the point.
On another front, even though we’ve grown to almost 400,000 in number we are completely ignored by the media at large. Never once has a single media outlet come knocking on our door to profile who we are. Tucker Carlson mentioned us one time. We remember it distinctly. It was just after president Obama had delivered a speech where he quoted scripture. He was expounding on immigration and he quoted Exodus 22:21, “You yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” The conservative press and the Christian right flipped out. Someone pointed us to a YouTube video where Tucker Carlson said something like, “That’s ‘The Christian Left.’ They’re a really small group that no one pays any attention to, but God they are annoying!” He was in a panel discussion following the speech and they were discussing Obama’s use of scripture. We wish we could find that video. We’ve looked for it and haven’t had any luck.
In May of this year a book was published called, “The Christian Left.” It came with the endorsement of Mike Huckabee, Kevin Sorbo, Stephen Baldwin and many other prominent figures of the Christian right. The symbol of the communist hammer and sickle is featured in the title. The subtitle reads, “How Liberal Thought Has Hijacked the Church.” We haven’t been able to bring ourselves to read the book yet. As far as we know it doesn’t mention us specifically. A review of the first chapter has already exposed a lot of rambling from our perspective. We shall see. One of these days we’ll get around to reading the whole thing. The message is clear though. The author, a pastor and a film producer, is saying we’re communists, and therefore we can’t be Christians.
In 2020 there were only 4 companies valued at $1 trillion or more. All four are technology companies, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet (parent company of Google). Two weeks ago, in late June of 2021, Facebook joined the trillion dollar club. That’s a lot of capital and along with it comes a lot of power. We are feeling the squeeze, like our message may not be so welcome on their platform any longer.
We’ve said it from day one. We love Facebook. We find it to be nothing less than a revolutionary form of human communication. That it is now valued as one a handful of trillion dollar companies speaks to that fact. That said we have to bring up another salient point. We feel like they are losing their way in some key areas.
The language we use to describe the oppression of ‘the least of these’ isn’t always pretty, in fact it can be somewhat jarring at times. In the last half of our 12-year run Facebook has started to discourage such language. We’re being sanctioned with greater and greater frequency. We’ve been in and out of Facebook jail numerous times with various operational capabilities being stripped. It always involves our ability to reach the 400 thousand member community we’ve spent 12 years building. We’re pretty sure we’ve being slowly frozen out. Sometimes it’s likely algorithms that trigger a sanction but we always appeal. Our appeals are always rejected. We’re never given any specific reason and despite having spent thousands of dollars over the years to ‘boost’ posts we have never been assigned an account executive or advertising representative.
In the later years ‘boosting’ posts has been the only way to reach any significant portion of our community with a targeted message. Without boosting any single post is buried by the content that follows it. It disappears off the radar of the community only having reached a small number of people.
In January a Zoom sermon posted by one of our pastoral staff was taken down and his privileges to ‘go live’ were disabled for 6 weeks. The reason we were given was that the post contained ‘hate speech.’ We don’t need to tell you how absurd that is, but it’s a fact. That’s the way it went down, and similar kinds of sanctions are occurring with increasing frequency. We’re starting to see words used like, ‘a pattern’ of violating community standards and advertising guidelines. Boosting posts is considered advertising.
We’re always advised to ‘read the community standards and advertising policies’ when we’re sanctioned, which we have done so many times we practically have them memorized. The folks we’re able to chat with at Facebook never have any decision making power. They are intermediaries. They pass messages along between us and decision makers. In 12 years we have never been able to speak wit anyone at Facebook with any authority. We want nothing more than to be able to follow their standards and guidelines. Again, we are never given any specifics related to our apparent violations.
All of this paints a less than rosy picture about our future. It would appear that barriers to the Good News are once again being erected. We are hoping to somehow get in touch with the powers that be at Facebook. We’d like a chance to explain what this ministry means to a great number of people. We know that to be the case because we’re told every day how much it means. There is a hunger for the Good News in our nation that has gone ignored for a long time. We stand ready, willing and able to keep proclaiming it daily.
That brings us to our final appeal for today. We need you help. You are the only supporters we have. You are the reason we’ve been able to keep coming back every day since 2009. We have no corporate sponsors or wealthy backers. There's no official church body behind our mission. We exist because we’re user supported.
Our future is uncertain as it relates to social media. We need to expand our operations and capabilities beyond social media. The larger and more diverse our network is, the less likely we’ll be incapable of carrying the Good News forward. Please make a contribution today. Be the change you ant to see in the world. Walk through the wilderness with us. Any amount helps. Make it as large or as small as you feel led to contribute. Sign up to make it monthly. We think our being able to carry on is a worthwhile investment. We know many of you do as well. After all, the Good News is the point of all we do.
Here’s how to make a secure contribution (click or tap here).
The Words Of Jesus, Matthew 25: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Christian nationalism is toxic. It has been ripping our nation apart for a long time but it's been thrown into overdrive in the last 50 years as a result of The "Christian" Right.
So many people have left the faith as a result. It's not hard for those who aren't brainwashed to see that conservative ideology is antithetical to the teachings of Christ.
Our strategic partners at Vote Common Good have created a state of the art training program for pastors, activists, faith communities, faith leaders, and individuals who desire to respond in faithful ways to the rise of Christian Nationalism in the United States. It is ideal for those who recognize and condemn the role Christian Nationalism played in the violent, racist, anti-American insurrection at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6.
It's free and you can watch or listen to it right now!
Follow the below link to the webinar.
The Christian Left is branching out! We're in the process of expanding our range of activities designed to serve Christian progressives and their allies.
There are some exciting things in the works!
We've been active for 12 years and we're one of the few counter-narratives to The "Christian" Right, which frankly has never made any sense to us.
We need sustaining members to support our ongoing mission. This is our life's work and we are passionate and dedicated to do everything we can to present the truth about the message of Jesus, which again, has nothing to do with right-wing ideology.
Follow the link below to make a contribution. Sign up to make it monthly. Be a part of the change you want to see in the world.
— The Christian Left
“It’s easier to bow down and shout constant hallelujahs than to get our own hands dirty by following him [Jesus] out into the world of brokenness and mess.”
— Mark Townsend
A four-day QAnon conference called the 'For God & Country Patriot Roundup' took place in Dallas, Texas this Memorial Day weekend. An organization called 'The Patriot Voice' organized the conference and said it was its “inaugural kick-off event” on its website.
“For three days, you will have the opportunity to hear from some of your favorite Patriots and Digital Soldiers in both keynote speeches and panel forums,” the website says. “You will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with these people, as well as meet fellow Patriots from around the country and world.”
Michael Flynn, former national security advisor to Donald Trump, was the main event at the sold out gathering. Flynn resigned from his national security post after reports that he had lied about his contact with a Russian official came to light. In December 2017 he entered a guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia's ambassador to the US at the time. Trump eventually pardoned him late last year.
During a Q & A session at the 'God & Country Patriot Roundup' Flynn stated that the US should have a coup like Myanmar where the military overthrew the democratically elected government. On February 1 of this year Myanmar's military overthrew its government and arrested its leaders. 800 Burmese people, including at least 40 children, have been killed according to Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. More than 4,000 people have been arrested.
"I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can't happen here?" a conference attendee asked Flynn.
"No reason. I mean, it should happen here," Flynn responded to thundering cheers from the crowd.
Lt. Col. Yevgeny "Eugene" Vindman, an Army officer who was fired by the Trump White House, has said Flynn could face a court-martial over his behavior. "With these seditious remarks Comrade Flynn may have crossed the line for recall to active duty and court-martial," he wrote on his personal Twitter account.
It would be one thing if this kind of thing was taking place on the remote fringes of society but it isn't. In today's Republican party it's mainstream, and that's terrifying. What makes it even more alarming is that it's all being done in God's name. Talk about taking the Lord's name in vain.
According to NPR a recent survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute shows that 3 in 5 white evangelicals say Biden was not legitimately elected. Among them is Pastor Ken Peters, who founded the Patriot Church in Knoxville, Tenn., last year.
Peters states, "I believe that right now we have an illegitimate president in the White House and he was not elected by the people. I believe the truly 'We the People'-elected, should-be president is residing in Florida right now."
Combine these sentiments with the fact that 39% of Republicans say political violence may be necessary and you can see that Michael Flynn's comments at the 'For God & Country Patriot Roundup' aren't on the fringe at all. They're front and center in the extremely dangerous movement of right-wing 'Christian' nationalism. From our perspective there's nothing Christian about it.
We started this ministry in 2009 because we were very troubled by what we saw taking place in the US Christian community at large. Frankly, we're not all too surprised with recent developments. It was more or less inevitable. 80% of white evangelicals supported Donald Trump in both elections and he knows it.
While it wasn't hard to predict how it would play out it's still hard to fathom how so many Christians can be so misled. Just about every day we find ourselves asking, "Really? How can this be happening?" We just can't quite understand how anything the modern Republican party stands for can be attached to Jesus. When we read what Jesus actually taught it's obvious to us that it's antithetical to current Republican ideology.
So here we are. It certainly feels like a big relief the disgraced former president isn't sitting in the oval office any longer but we're kind of scared of any form of complacency. Things are far from smooth sailing conditions. Voter suppression legislation is being hatched throughout the entire nation based on 'The Big Lie' that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. Some states are trying to set things up so that if Republicans don't win the powers that be can just overturn the results. That's what Donald Trump wanted to do with his 2020 defeat. It didn't work. That could all change if Republican state legislators get their way. What we would have then would no longer be a democracy. That is what's known as a dictatorship. Too many conservatives in the US are just fine with using violence to achieve their objectives.
So what do we do as a community of Christian progressives? What do we do with the situation we're faced with? We have been at this now for almost 12 years. A lot has changed for the better, like marriage equality, but the money and influence driving The 'Christian' Right is enormous. It's literally a billion dollar communications juggernaut. The only way we were ever able to break through its enormous barriers to entry in the first place was the revolutionary advent of social media. Incidentally, we're convinced Donald Trump was elected for the same reason. Without Twitter we don't believe he would have been president. That's why we always say this is much, much more than 'just a Facebook page.'
What we do is do what we can. We're doing just that every day at The Christian Left. We work full time to create an environment where this community of 400K people can stay vigilant, engaged, and active. COVID put a big lid on our in person social justice action but very soon we'll be hitting the road for hot spots around the country. We've forged strategic alliances with most of the other progressive Christian organizations in the country throughout the years, from Vote Common Good, to the Wild Goose Festival, Chalice Press, and the Patheos Progressive Christian Channel.
We maintain a website, a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter page, an Instagram page, an email list (Please join it, We pay a monthly fee to maintain it and it isn't cheap), a store, and a YouTube channel. Every single day since 2009 we've engaged with our social media audience at least 12 hours a day, providing a troll-free environment to discuss the news and events of the day in culture and politics. It's the only place quite like it online and it was definitely the first of its kind.
We wouldn't be able to do any of this without your help. The Christian Left is user supported. As we've explained, we're one of very few voices offering a counternarrative to the billion dollar empire of The 'Christian' Right. We need dedicated people who believe in this mission to participate by backing our effort financially. Make a contribution today and sign up to make it monthly if you can. Any amount helps. Here's how (click or tap here).
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
- Galatians 6:9
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
- Jesus, John 13:35
-- The Christian Left
We're going to begin curating memes that resonate with the things Jesus taught.
Hat tip to the Wild Goose Festival on this meme.
The interview with John Fugelsang featuring TCL founder and co-founder, Charles Toy and Rev. Mark Sandlin happened on Thursday, March 11, 2021! It went better than anyone expected. John is a pro. He asked all the right questions and engaged with Charles and Mark on a level that only he could have.
John has been an ally of The Christian Left since its humble beginning as a Facebook group back in 2009. Charles tells the story of how their relationship began in the interview.
We know you're going to enjoy listening and learning how your progressive Christian missionaries have been comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable lately. So grab a beverage, find a comfortable spot, and click on the arrow below to listen in. The interview is 30 minutes or so. After you've been inspired by their passion and commitment please read over the rest of the knowledge we've imparted in this blog piece. Then sign up for our email list and make a contribution to the ongoing mission of The Christian Left. We've been at this for almost 12 years and we'll go another 12 with your backing. Any amount helps. Sign up to make it monthly. We have a lot to accomplish.
There are a few essays and videos mentioned in the interview that we link below for your convenience.
The Real Origins of the Religious Right
"They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was racism."
Classic article from POLITICO by Randall Balmer, a must read to understand how the whole thing got started in the modern era.
Randall Herbert Balmer (born October 22, 1954) is an American historian of American religion. He taught at Barnard College and Columbia University for twenty-seven years before moving to Dartmouth College in 2012, where he was named the Mandel Family Professor in the Arts & Sciences. He is also an Episcopal priest. He earned his PhD from Princeton University in 1985.
TCL's Primary Blog Post About The History of The "Christian" Right
Packed with links and related information!
The Christian Left Website
Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing
by Rev. Mark Sandlin (Co-founder of The Christian Left)
TCL's Primary Blog Post About Homosexuality
Packed with links and related information!
The Bible Tells Us When A Fetus Becomes A Living Being (214K Likes)
Seminal piece on abortion from The Christian Left
TCL's Primary Blog Post On Abortion
Packed with links and related information!
"Christian" Right Messaging = Billion Dollar Empire
This article is from 2017 but this gathering still happens on a regular basis. It's only one cog in the wheel of a multi-billion dollar messaging empire behind The "Christian" Right.
The $1-Billion-a-Year Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven’t Heard Of
"Are you female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state? Get to know The Gathering, a shadowy, powerful network of hard-right funders."
YouTube Video of The First Standup Routine Charles Saw of John Fugelsang
Charles talks about this video in the interview. Hilarious!
John is everywhere on YouTube
Link To Beth Moore Tweet Discussed In Interview
Link to sermon by Rev. Mark Sandlin that got him sanctioned on social media for using "hate speech." The sermon was taken down and his ability to live stream was removed for a month.
Below: Meme posted to The Christian Left Facebook page November of 2011
“Tell Me Everything,” with John Fugelsang, is broadcast on SiriusXM #127, 9pm-12mid ET (6pm-9pm Pacific), M-F.
It's the only radio show we listen to on a consistent basis. It's that good and John that good.
You can sign up for a SiriusXM Premier Streaming subscription and get the first 3 months for $1.00. After that it’s $13.00/month. It's well worth it. The options for your listening enjoyment are virtually endless.
Charles Toy is a disciple of Jesus. He decided to go all in with that role about 15 years ago when he realized that Jesus was the only person who was never going to leave him. He never looked back. He’s the founder of The Christian Left.
Charles is a husband, a dad, a son, a grandpa and a brother. He grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in a midsize university town, Corvallis, Oregon. He currently resides in the ‘Silicon Forest’ just down the street from Intel and Nike.
He graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor's degree from the school of business. For his area of concentration he focused on marketing and advertising management. He learned about things like branding and integrated marketing communications. In 1994 he took a class called 'The Internet.' A ‘politics junkie’ for as long as he can remember he secured a minor in political science along the way. In his lifetime he’s been face to face with Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. He’s been in the same room as Ronald Reagan, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.
In his professional life Charles has done it all. He’s been an account executive for an advertising agency, a marketing director for a textiles company and a national mortgage bank, and an account manager for a regional newspaper, a local radio station, and two separate television stations. At the peak of his career Charles was forced stay home and care for a family member. He wasn’t willing to let his education and experience go to waste so he decided he would serve as God’s marketing assistant. He secured the domain name of The Christian Left and founded the online ministry and community. He never looked back.
In 2012 Charles and Rev. Mark Sandlin spearheaded an effort to form the nation's first progressive Christian Super PAC (political action committee) called 'Christians For A Change (CFAC).' The idea was that CFAC would serve as the political action arm of The Christian Left ministry, much like 'FRC Action' on the right, except different. Sadly, the idea was ahead of its time and CFAC dissolved from lack of funding.
Rev. Mark Sandlin is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) from the South. He currently serves at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. He is a co-founder of The Christian Left. Mark also serves as the President and Acting Co-Executive Director of ProgressiveChristianity.org. His blog, then known as The God Article, was named as one of the “Top Ten Christian Blogs.” Mark received The Associated Church Press’ Award of Excellence in 2012. His work has been published on “The Huffington Post,” “Sojourners,” “Time,” “Church World Services,” and even on the “Richard Dawkins Foundation.” He’s been featured on PBS’s Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly and NPR’s The Story with Dick Gordon. He blogs at Rev. Mark Sandlin dot com.
John Fugelsang has been murdered on CSI, interviewed 2 Beatles on separate continents in the same week, and famously once got Mitt Romney's advisor to call Governor Romney an 'etch a sketch' on CNN. Actor, comedian & broadcaster John Fugelsang hosts 'Tell Me Everything" weekdays on SiriusXM Insight #127.
He recently performed in 'The Bill of Rights Concert" alongside Lewis Black & Dick Gregory which aired on AXS. He's also appeared at Montreal’s ‘Just for Laughs’ Festival, HBO’s U.S Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, hosted America's Funniest Home Videos for ABC and Bill Maher called him ‘one of my favorite comedians’.
Film/TV credits include 'Price Check' opposite Parker Posey, "Becker," "Providence," "Coyote Ugly," the religious standup performance film "The Coexist Comedy Tour" (which won Best Documentary at the NYC Vision Fest film festival). He appears in the upcoming features "The Girl On The Train," "Maggie Black," and he plays two roles in the romantic comedy ‘The Whole Truth’ starring Elisabeth Rohm and Eric Roberts.
He's interviewed Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Brian Wilson, Yoko Ono, Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, Alan Rickman, Joey Ramone, Carlos Santana, James Taylor, Bo Diddley, Stevie Nicks, Robbie Robertson, Ravi Shankar, Beyonce Knowles, Olivia Harrison, Garth Brooks, William Hurt, Helen Hunt, Ashanti, John Fogerty, William Shatner, Sen. Trent Lott, Sen. Tom Daschle, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ed Asner, Nile Rogers, Michael Moore, JK Simmons, Valerie Plame, Ethan Hawke, Brian Dennehy, Mavis Staples, Joel Grey, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Lily Tomlin, Dave Matthews, Terrence McNally, Stanley Tucci, Michael Shannon, Noel Gallagher, Jeff Daniels, Rita Moreno, & Carl Reiner. His interview with George Harrison included JF persuading George to play several songs on acoustic guitar. This proved to be George's final televised appearance and was broadcast as "The Last Performance."
His 2015 film "Dream On," a road trip in search of the American Dream, was named "Best Documentary" at the NY Independent Film Festival. Directed by 2 time Oscar nominee Roger Weisberg, the film examines the current state of the American Dream while retracing the journey Alexis de Tocqueville made while writing 'Democracy in America.' The film features 200 interviews in 55 cities in 17 states, including Mike Huckabee, Barney Frank & Paul Krugman and premieres on PBS Election Day Eve.
John's official website can be found here.
Radical changes to the way social media platforms allow posts to be distributed threaten to snuff us out, cancel our work, and eliminate our ability to carry out our mission.
TCL is a place where Christian progressives and their allies can gather to support one another, discuss the issues of the day, and take action to advocate for oppressed people, those who Jesus called "The Least Of These."
We're trying to work with the powers that be at social media companies but there are no guarantees. It is imperative that we build our email list immediately as an alternative way to communicate with the TCL community. Sign up for our email list today. It's important.
The Christian Left is user supported. We're one of very few voices offering a counternarrative to the billion dollar empire of The "Christian" Right. We need dedicated people who believe in this mission to participate by backing our effort financially. Make a contribution today and sign up to make it monthly. Any amount helps. Here's how (click or tap here).
“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”
Back to Facebook post
We just felt like throwing on some Waylon Jennings and remembering the days when we all used to love each other … before we started ‘feudin’ like the Hatfields and McCoys.’ Is it just us or do we recall a time when we loved our brothers and sisters in the country and we thought they were pretty cool? Conversely, we country folk loved our brothers and sisters in the city and while they did things a little differently than us we loved them anyway and we thought they were pretty cool.
Was it ever like that? Are we just looking at the past with rose-colored glasses? Can it ever be like that again? What would it take for the nation to move away from some of this nastiness towards one another? This great red-blue divide?
We wish we had all the answers. We think we might have a few ideas though.
Waylon played Ireland back in the day. Here’s what he had to say about it: “I think music is the only hope this world has of bringing people together. It’s the only thing that can bring ’em together under one roof. We go over to Ireland and play and there they are, there’s three different factions: the British, the Irish and the Irish Republican Army in this big coliseum and they’re getting along. When we start to leave they go back to fighting. It’s been going that way for all those years. But music definitely has healing powers.”
So, what about a Live-Aid style concert broadcast all over the world? One where the goal is for progressives and conservatives to come together and celebrate the music we all love? What a great way to celebrate everyone finally being able to attend concerts again. Maybe a tour of the featured bands could follow. One with stops in New York City, Dublin, Ireland, and Luckenbach, Texas. Wouldn’t it be grand?
Who would organize such a plan? Bob Geldof pulled off Live-Aid. Maybe Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr would step up. Who knows? Maybe we could see Led Zeppelin play together one more time.
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love. We can dream ...
Willie Nelson & Full Ensemble - Luckenbach, Texas (Live)
Luckenbach, Texas (Studio Version) - Waylon Jennings
When an algorithm deletes a Sunday sermon live-streamed by our own Rev. Mark Sandlin and temporarily suspends his ability to live-stream based on the content of his sermon it’s time to fix the algorithm.
Let’s face it, if that happened to any church belonging to the modern Christian Right it would be national news. We’re talking about Mark’s regular Sunday sermon that he steams to his church every week. He streams it here too. He's been suspended from doing so for a period of time unknown to him or us.
He’s not even sure what words triggered the algorithm but some of the words he used were the same words US Generals used to describe the situation on Jan 6th. All he’s ever told is to read the community standards which he’s read a hundred times of course over the length of his social media career. Mark has been nothing short of a social media pioneer by any measure of the words.
Sermon taken down and ability to live-stream suspended. Most level heads would agree that’s not OK. We’d like to get it fixed but we can’t ever find anyone to complain to. Similar things have happened to us frequently over the last decade because we highlight oppression and we use authentic words to describe it.
Don't get us wrong. We love social media. It has enabled us to get out the message of The Christian Left (getting back to the teachings of Jesus) on a scale that would not have been possible a short time ago. After being an early and consistent user almost from its beginning we need social media to be a tad more responsive to helping us fix this dilemma.
Never would we have imagined our country to be in the position we're in during the Christmas season of 2020.
Below are the Tweets of Mad King Nero over the last 24 hours or so. It's embarrassing. It's hard to even imagine that this is real. The Republican Party should have stepped up long ago to put a stop to this. Instead they allow people like Ted Cruz to speak for them. Meanwhile Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy do nothing to stop the insane turmoil their president is raining down on the nation.
This is all taking place while Americans are dropping like flies because Nero has mismanaged the worst pandemic in American history from the beginning.
We have work to do. We have a vaccine to be distributed to the American people. That's what our leaders should be focused on 100%, but that's not the case. Based on past behavior it appears we're going to have to deal with the following for another 40 days and 40 nights. The tragedy of that is that every day wasted with this nonsense comes at the cost of American people dying needlessly.
It's important to note that the president's own lapdog Attorney General says there is no evidence that any fraud took place that would affect the outcome of the election. The man in charge of election security on the federal level said this was the most secure election in US history. Trump fired him.
All he has left are bogus lawsuits that everyone knows are a joke and attacking Hunter Biden. If that's the game Trump wants to play let's open an investigation on his adult offspring and his son-in-law. How would people have voted if they knew the truth about them? We suspect we haven't even scratched the surface of the corruption we'll find buried there. Books will be written about that topic for the next 50 years.
Without a doubt this has been the most corrupt and inept presidency in US history.
The Republican Party is complicit in all of this. All of it.
Important Opening Clarification: This article is not about "calling out" government officials, or CEOs of large corporations, or cops who shoot black people in the back or presidents who lie every day. This clarification is also made in the middle of the article but we decided to make it here as well.
This article is about "horizontal call-outs," a practice that is on the increase as of late in the social justice community. It's where one alleged progressive entity 'calls out' another progressive entity. It's about progressive infighting and it's almost universally frowned upon by legitimate actors as being toxic. How to deal with toxic call-outs online is almost universally accepted - delete, ban, control who can comment on your forum, report, contact authorities if it doesn't stop, and get legal help if it spirals out of control.
Call-outs have become a serious problem in the social justice community. It's ugly. It's self-righteous. It's sad. It's uncalled for. People get hurt.
The definition of a 'call-out' is to publicly name and shame a group or individual and for the purpose of this article it is narrowed to progressive vs. progressive call-outs.
Groups or individuals doing the call-outs often can't be reasoned with on any level. They are convinced they are right and that is that. Their identity is defined by what they'e doing and to reverse course would mean self examination on a deeper level than they are willing to undertake. Some people have even crafted an obvious business model out of call-outs, with templates and jargon, and that's a whole separate level of evil.
Matt Kappadakunnel puts it this way in his article: Calling out “call-outs”: how to bring charity to the social justice movement and why it’s important
"The problem with call-outs is it shames individual members, promotes a punishing form of education executed by self-affirmed “woke” people which is done in a manner antithetical to the mission of social justice and reinforces a toxic environment whereby members walk on egg shells for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and being called out."
So who is accountable to who? What would happen if we approached some random group and said, "We call you into accountability with us!" It would be absurd. We know who we're accountable to, Jesus and the majority of happy TCL community members. We would no more launch a public shaming campaign on another social justice group than we would on our own mothers. Doing so would be as far away from who who we are as you can get.
Trying to reason with a "progressive" group that would go to the level of a public shaming campaign feels exactly like trying to reason with members of the Trump cult. It's impossible. The only solution they will consider is one where you sign a full confession of their accusations and then agree to their template of "coming into right relationship with them." If that isn't emotional extortion what is? That's what makes it heinous and toxic.
It’s important to make the following distinction. Loretta Ross said it eloquently in her New York Times piece, “I’m a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic.”
“Call-outs are justified to challenge provocateurs who deliberately hurt others, or for powerful people beyond our reach. Effectively criticizing such people is an important tactic for achieving justice. But most public shaming is horizontal and done by those who believe they have greater integrity or more sophisticated analyses. They become the self-appointed guardians of political purity. Call-outs make people fearful of being targeted. People avoid meaningful conversations when hypervigilant perfectionists point out apparent mistakes, feeding the cannibalistic maw of the cancel culture.”
When individuals or groups get the notion that you need to be held "accountable" to them they often grow indignant if you don't agree. That can lead to an increase in hostility on their part where the group crosses the line engaging in illegal and unethical tactics. One such tactic is known as "Doxxing."
‘Doxxing’ (or ‘dropping documents’) involves the release of personal information without permission, and to a hostile online audience. This may include phone numbers, email and residential addresses, photographs, social media profiles or bank details. Doxxing is totally unethical and illegal under state criminal laws. It’s a crime and can lead to serious legal consequences like imprisonment if you get caught harassing others and sharing their private information. If someone is using published personal information within ethical standards it is not a crime. However, those doxxing with a more insidious agenda are committing a serious crime if their motives are proven to be unethical.
Another way a call-outs can devolve into illegal and unethical behavior is when they easily turn into cyber harassment. Cyber harassment is defined as repetitive, invasive & anxiety provoking online interpersonal attacks. It is the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harass, control, manipulate or habitually disparage a child, adult, business or group without a direct or implied threat of physical harm. It isn't cute or justified. It's sick and wrong and you need to understand it because it could happen to you.
With the advent of the internet, social media and mobile device technology, these forms of abuse have become around the clock activities leaving minimal respite for the victim. Having access to a multitude of digital devices combined with online forums to carry out harassment, the victim has no sanctuary or avenues for escape.
For More About Cyber Harassment Read: Cyber Harassment Internet Defamation & Internet Trolls
A particularly egregious form of a call-out is mob harassment. Mob harassment occurs when you receive communication at a large volume that is threatening and/or overwhelming. The communication may often be intended to distress or discredit you. It's also known as "mob attacks" or "cybermobs," and can be from multiple individuals, accounts, or bots. It's usually coordinated and may include a special interest group.
Mob harassment can feel overwhelming and that’s what it is intended to do. The target can and does feel helpless like the entire situation is spinning out of control. Sometimes the mob keeps coming at their target for days, weeks or months. A person often feels like it’s never going to end and it will destroy their life. There is no excuse whatsoever for this kind of behavior. None.
Fortunately smart and sympathetic people have put together an action plan for people targeted with mob harassment. Here it is. Please look it over and become familiar with it in the event that you or a friend or colleague ever becomes the focus of mob harassment.
The Christian Left was an early pioneer in social media and probably the first social media Christian ministry and community. Many have imitated and duplicated our methods and policies over the years.
Our trolling policy (which includes 'Concern Trolling') was one of our earliest policies. It is overwhelmingly appreciated by TCL community members. It applies to all people who come here to disrupt no matter who they are, left or right. For years it was only the right that attacked us. That's changed and it's a sad thing. It only reinforces what conservatives often say, "The left always eats its own."
We make no apologies about our troll policy and we never will. It is designed to protect our admin team and our community members. If we've ever been overzealous in the enforcement it stems from our desire to protect the community. Concern trolls often get very, very upset when they don't get to force their will on TCL. Sometimes they go to great lengths try to control us. It just proves that their intent was never innocent in the first place.
Our community members don't want to be harassed. They get enough of that from friends and family because they are Christian progressives. We've devoted tens of thousands of hours keeping TCL a troll free haven (including concern trolls). With a page this size it has to be this way. 99% of our members appreciate the policy.
Please read our Troll Policy here. The Christian Left Is A Troll Free Page.
Sometimes people misconstrue our trolling policies to mean that people have to agree with us on everything. Not true. WE don't even agree with us on everything. We often post a wide variety of opinions on all kinds of topics. That being said this is not a debate page. If someone doesn't like a post or doesn't agree with something we ask that they scroll on by. That's all. Just scroll on by. It has to be that way with a page this size. It prevents a lot of poop storms. Trust us.
Most people understand these concepts without ever having to be told. They participate in our ministry because they see it as needed and valuable. It's an infinitesimally small percentage of people who ever need to be informed that we do not allow shaming, lecturing, telling us how to run the page or the ministry, asking obvious passive-aggressive questions, telling us what merch we're allowed to offer, etc. We've taken down merch a couple times in the past as a courtesy, not because we were shamed or ordered.
Tens of thousands of people have told us over the years that TCL is a literal lifeline for them. Several LGBTQIA+ folks have said they were entertaining suicide until they found TCL. We were one of the first national Christian ministries to fully support marriage equality. The ministry is too important to too many people to not protect this space and protect this space we will ... by whatever nonviolent means we have to.
"I appeal to you to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - Romans 16:17-20 ESV
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John: 8
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord. - Isaiah 54:17
For additional resources and articles about call-outs please see links below.
Barack Obama takes on 'woke' call-out culture: 'That's not activism'
More On Call-Out Culture & Public Shaming
(Article): Defining “Online Harassment”: A Glossary of Terms Very Helpful
(Article): Calling out “call-outs”: how to bring charity to the social justice movement and why it’s important
(Article): Public Shaming: The Global Epidemic
(Article): The shame of public shaming
(Article): How to Handle Social Media Harassment
(Book): So You've Been Publicly Shamed
We will be adding additional resources here as we find them. Our intent is to build a 'library of links' so to speak on this topic. If you know of any good articles or books please email us at TCL@TheChristianLeft.org. No hate mail. When we get hate mail of any kind we read the first few sentences. Once we discover that it's hate mail we close it and delete it.
The Christian Left is user supported. We're one of very few voices offering a counter-narrative to the billion dollar empire of The "Christian" Right. Every day new people find the ministry and say things like, "Where have you been all my life! Finally a place for me!" That's what has kept us coming back every day since 2009. We feel the same way they do about the TCL community. It is a haven for almost 400K people and we're going to keep protecting it as we've always done. It's a big job. We need dedicated people who believe in this mission to participate by backing our effort financially. Make a contribution today and sign up to make it monthly. Any amount helps. Here's how (click or tap here).
Our Latest Bumper Sticker!
We order our own bumper stickers to check the quality. We're impressed with the way they turn out from this company. They are very well made and they're shipped quickly in nice protective packaging.
If you follow all the tricks in the ordering instructions below you can pick one up for $8 and change shipped to your door (the 8 and change includes shipping).
Look at it as helping to support your favorite online ministry and getting a cool bumper sticker as a bonus.
If you're afraid to put it on your car you can put one on your refrigerator, laptop, bulletin board, cooler, freezer, etc. The instructions to order are below.
Get your point across with this quality bumper sticker that will outlast heavy rain, intense sunlight, and the most severe of traffic jams.
Note: We've given you the link to order but don't order just yet. There are a few more tricks below to reduce your final price. During the checkout process you’ll need to create a Zazzle account to buy the product.
For $8 and change you can have it sent to your home (shipping is included in that price). Just take advantage of the 15% discount code they offer and the shipping deal described below.
Zazzle is a community of independent artists and makers from around the world. Your purchase helps support talented designers like The Christian Left.
Also, get free standard shipping for 30 days by signing up for Zazzle Black at the end. You can cancel before the 30 days and pay nothing, or you can pay $9.95 for a year of free shipping from Zazzle. We're going to offer more bumper stickers and other things like greeting cards on Zazzle so it's not a bad deal if you like our stuff, and all of it is progressive Christian inspired.
While they don’t currently offer a guest account option, there are three methods to register a Zazzle account:
Fear not! No matter which option you choose, joining Zazzle is secure, free and most of all, fun! A Zazzle account is quick to create. The privacy of all Zazzle members is of the utmost importance to them, so they will never spam your account or share any of your personal information with 3rd party sites.
Once you register, you’ll have access to lots of great benefits. With a Zazzle account, you can:
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.