Preface: We are pleased to be able to present the following historical essay in its entirety. Following the essay we present some additional historical perspective and offer solutions on what can be done to counter the violent and destructive forces tearing our nation apart at the seams.
By Randall Balmer
(Republished with permission from the author.)
The overwhelming white evangelical support for Donald Trump is a puzzle that will occupy historians for generations. How can the religious right, a movement that trumpets its fidelity to 'family values,' throw its support to a vulgar, thrice-married casino operator and self-confessed sexual predator?
Fully 81 percent of white evangelicals did so in 2016; only a slightly lesser percentage repeated the folly in 2020 after four years and, according to the Washington Post, 30,573 false or misleading statements during Trump's term in the White House.
Any attempt to solve this conundrum religious right support for Trump will have to reckon with the role of racism. After several decades of research, I can state without fear of contradiction that evangelicals mobilized politically in the 1970s not, as commonly supposed, in opposition to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 but rather in defense of racial segregation at Bob Jones University and at all-white 'segregation academies,' many of them church-sponsored.
Evangelicals overwhelmingly considered abortion a 'Catholic issue' until the late 1970s. (Jerry Falwell, to cite one example, by his own admission did not preach his first anti-abortion sermon until February 1978, more than five years after the Roe decision.)
The durability of what I call the abortion myth, the fiction that opposition to legalized abortion was the catalyst of their movement, can be attributed to the founders of the religious right themselves. In a breathtaking act of rhetorical jujitsu, one notable for both its audacity and its mendacity, these leaders have insisted over the decades that opposition to abortion is what forced them to become political, when in fact they mobilized politically to defend racism. They eventually realized, however, that they needed a different issue to mobilize grassroots evangelicals. Only later, just before the 1980 presidential election, did evangelicals embrace opposition to abortion as a political issue.
The true origins of the religious right, rooted in racism, make the 2016 support for Trump a bit more understandable, if not defensible. Trump entered the national political scene by questioning the legitimacy of the nation's first African American president. His rhetoric surrounding immigrants and racial minorities speaks for itself.
The 2016 election, therefore, allowed the religious right finally to abandon any pretext that it was a movement devoted to family values. Instead, the religious right circled back to the charter issue behind its formation: racism.
But how do we account for the four decades between the emergence of the religious right and the embrace of Trump? While it is true that both Bush presidents, father and son, supported policies that were not kind to people of color, neither man was openly racist. What is the missing link between, say, Falwell and Trump?
In the course of my research, I've come increasingly to see Ronald Reagan as the missing link.
Let's consider the run-up to the 1980 presidential election. The incumbent, Jimmy Carter, was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher who spoke openly about being a 'born again' Christian. Carter's tenure in office occurred during a troubled time, no question about it.
But any reasonable appraisal of his tenure would conclude that, even though he was careful to observe the line of separation between church and state, Carter sought to govern in a way consistent with his religious convictions: his pardon of Vietnam-era draft resisters; the emphasis on human rights and both gender and racial equality; the Camp David accords; renegotiation of the Panama Canal treaties as a way to move the nation beyond colonialism. (Carter's opposition to abortion, by the way, was longer and far more consistent than that of Reagan, who as governor of California in 1967 signed into law the nation's most liberal abortion law.)
Why would leaders of the religious right choose a divorced and remarried former Hollywood actor over Carter, a fellow evangelical? I'm afraid racism cannot be discounted.
Just as Trump entered the political scene by questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama, Reagan entered California politics in opposition to the Rumford Fair Housing Act, which sought to guarantee equal access to racial minorities. Falwell (although he repented of it later in life) characterized the civil rights movement as 'civil wrongs;' Reagan vociferously opposed both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Throughout his political campaigns, Reagan regularly invoked the racially fraught term 'law and order.' And who can forget his vile caricature of 'welfare queens,' mythical women of color who ostensibly lived the good life on the public dole?
For me, the most damning evidence of Reagan's racism occurred Aug. 3, 1980, when the Republican nominee chose to open his general election campaign in, of all places, Philadelphia, Miss., at the Neshoba County fair. This is where, 16 summers earlier, members of the Ku Klux Klan, in cooperation with the local sheriff's office, abducted, tortured and murdered three civil rights workers, burying their bodies in an earthen dam.
Lest anyone miss his meaning on that occasion, Reagan, the master of symbolism, invoked the time-worn segregationist battle cry: 'I believe in states' rights.'
Sadly, the thread that links Donald Trump back to the aborning religious right of the late 1970s is racism. There's no pretty way to say it. Ronald Reagan was very much in that loop.
This article originally appeared here. Republished with the express written permission of the author.
Postscript: Continue reading below to learn what can be done to counter the forces of The 'Christian' Right.
About The Author: A prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, Randall Balmer holds the John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth, the oldest endowed professorship at Dartmouth College. He earned the Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 and taught as Professor of American Religious History at Columbia University for twenty-seven years before coming to Dartmouth in 2012. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale, Northwestern, and Emory universities and in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School from 2004 to 2008. His most recent book, released in August of 2021, is "Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right."
More about the author here.
What To Do? What To Do?
The facts in the above essay make it abundantly clear, a large swath of white evangelicals have lost their way in the US. They've abandoned the faith for something else. What they practice now is a strange mixture of Christian nationalism, racism, bigotry, libertarianism, Objectivism, laissez-faire capitalism, individualism, social Darwinism, and dominionism (or dominion theology). How's that for a mouthful?
It's the perfect religion of empire, which makes sense because its creation was bankrolled by captains of industry like the Coors family. Over the last 40 years it has become its own billion dollar empire. Its power and influence reach every nook and cranny of American culture. As a voting block it has arguably put 4 presidents in office (Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George Bush, and Donald J. Trump). The US Supreme Court is now stacked with its acolytes, which comprise a conservative, Christian-right majority on the court.
Massive radio networks like the Salem Media Group, and television networks like the Sinclair Broadcast Group broadcast its propaganda to the American public all day, every day.
Overly compensated media personalities like Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson hammer out its talking points daily in highly produced installments on the Fox "News" channel.
Think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council formulate its strategy and pass it to groups like Heritage Action and FRC Action who lobby congress and produce 'voter guides' for distribution to churches. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is staffed with conservative state legislators, lobbyists, and private sector representatives who draft legislation for distribution to state governments.
Shadowy, powerful networks of hard-right funders gather every year to pool their money, share resources and funnel it all to the various parts of the machine they've built. It's quite the machine.
On January 6, 2021, with the encouragement of an impeached president, they assembled a mob of organized militias and stormed the DC Capitol. Their goal was nothing short of overthrowing the duly elected government of the United States. The attempted coup left 5 Capitol police officers dead.
In the months following the violent insurrection they've taken to writing and enacting voter suppression laws in red states. They try to justify their actions by reciting the 'Big Lie' of twice-impeached Donald J. Trump. Based on the content of the legislation their goal is obvious. If they lose an election they will deem that it was 'rigged' and overturn it, thus marking the very real end of the government set up by our founders.
To think that we've seen the end it would be a very large mistake. Guaranteed, we have not. Up to now Democrats have been lackluster at best in addressing the problem voter suppression laws have created. This is the biggest problem we face where President Biden must lead. We have to put federal laws on the books right now. There are two such laws in process. We need to pass both of them. You can read more about the effort to fix this problem here.
We could go on, and on ...
The glaring problem with the above outlined actions and behaviors is that they are 100%, completely divorced from everything Jesus said, did, taught, and lived. In fact, they are the polar opposite of all that Jesus is.
The whole thing can get overwhelming. It's too big, too well-funded, and too organized to fight.
What To Do
First, let us remember the God we serve! The God we serve has seen bigger empires crumble to dust! The God we serve is bigger than the machine they've built! We must not grow weary of doing good! We must not grow weary of speaking up for those who have no voice!
Change can only take place when we replace the prevailing ideology with a counter-narrative. Based on all the the above mentioned factors it will take a monumental effort to even make a dent in the juggernaut known as The "Christian" Right.
We have been here since 2009 doing our part to sustain such an effort. We're one of the few places online where Christian progressives & their allies can gather, enjoy fellowship, discuss the news of the day, and participate in direct social justice action. We feel like we've made a small difference. Nevertheless, the task is so big that it will be a lifetime endeavor for us and others who have chosen to speak up and speak out.
We've partnered with what is arguably the largest, and most active progressive Christian action organization in the United States, Vote Common Good. We've formed a cooperative strategic alliance with their leadership, we attend their planning meetings, we participate in their direct action campaigns, and we publish their daily podcasts on our social media outlets. We're blessed to have such a close relationship with Vote Common Good. It affords the TCL community every possible opportunity to take direct action on all fronts. Our next in-person, roundtable planning session will take place in New York, in October of 2021. We will report back when we return. We know there are many exciting action opportunities in the planning stages as we move towards 2022, another election year.
An undertaking of this magnitude could never happen without the support of a network of people who care about this issue. We don't have any backers like the Coors family to underwrite our work. We wish we had a large sponsor so we didn't have to ask. We just don't. We're a 100% member funded community and ministry.
That's why we need you to join us! Without you we would never have been able to go on this long. Without you we would have to fold up shop in short order.
Join our network of supporting members today. Sign up to make a monthly contribution. Be the change you want to see in the world!
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-- The Christian Left
Read More (One of our favorite articles on this topic).
We designed the below meme back in 2012 and posted it to all our social media outlets.
Since 2012 our sentiment has coalesced and integrated into the cultural ethos of our nation on a much greater level than it was in 2012 when we made this bold statement. We still have a long way to go. It's going to take several decades to completely reverse the damage done by the "Christian" Right.
Nevertheless, it's always a good thing to note progress when it takes place along the way. That's why we'd like to curate the following article from Patheos in our permanent collection, right here on this blog.
I am a Liberal Because I am a Christian
-- The Christian Left
The only way we're going to overcome 40 years of propaganda from The Christian Right is by consistent messaging to as many people as possible, as often as possible. That requires a budget, and that's why we need your support. We've been carrying out this mission daily since 2009.
Join our network of supporting members, and be the change you want to see in the world.
This one is worth adding to our permanent curated collection.
"Living authentically with who you are is a risky thing to do, but I believe it's the most direct path to peace."
(Click or tap on the link below to read the full article.)
10 Reasons I'm Glad I Came Out As A Progressive Christian
The only way we're going to overcome 40 years of propaganda from The Christian Right is by consistent messaging to as many people as possible, as often as possible. That requires a budget, and that's why we need your support.
Join our network of supporting members, and be the change you want to see in the world.
The founding members of The Christian Left appeared on SiriusXM's "Tell Me Everything," with John Fugelsang, on July 29th.
Among other things they discussed the new bestselling book on Amazon, "The Christian Left: How Liberal Thought Has Hijacked the Church," by Lucas Miles. Spoiler alert, they don't agree with the premise of the book.
They went on to discuss the history of how The Christian Right was engineered in the late 70's by a group of people dedicated to politicizing the church and making the church a mouthpiece for fundamentalist, conservative ideology. Their plan was wildly successful. It created a billion dollar messaging empire that remains in place to this day.
Finally they wrap up with what they are hopeful about looking forward after 12 years engaged with this ministry on a daily basis.
It was an action packed show you won't want to miss! Click on the orange and white play arrow below to listen.
After listening to the show come back to this blog post and join our support network. The only way we're going to overcome 40 years of propaganda from The Christian Right is by consistent messaging to as many people as possible, as often as possible. That requires a budget, and that's why we need your support. Join us, and be the change you want to see in the world. See below for the link to join our network of supporting members.
We're Expanding! - New Things On The Horizon!
The Christian Left is a full-fledged ministry for Christian progressives and their allies. We base everything we say and do on the teachings of Jesus. We have two ordained ministers on staff and everyone else on staff is a passionate, Christian progressive activist. We’ve dedicated our lives to this mission and we need your help.
We're rolling out a new website within days. It will have increased functionality across the board. In October we'll be hitting the road for a gathering with strategic partners. Among the things to be discussed will be our plan of action for 2022. All kinds of exciting things are in the works!
As indicated by our name, we are not ‘nonpartisan.’ We don’t want our political speech subject to rules and regulations so we were advised very early not a be a nonprofit. Here’s the link to join our support network. Please do what you can. Sign up to make your contribution monthly if you're able.
(Click or Tap on the link below)
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
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.