Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Conservative Christians Opposed to Trump Face Backlash

As I have noted many times, I view fundamentalist religion of all stripes, including conservative Christianity, is a pestilence on mankind.  Be it fundamentalist Islam or fundamentalist Christianity, the main motivation is hatred and condemnation of others combined with a desire to force their beliefs on all others.  Indeed, in the case of fundamentalist Christians, their beliefs are increasingly diametrically opposed to the Gospel message and their hypocrisy is off the charts.  Gays, feminists,  and "liberals" have long been targets of the hatred of the "godly folk," but now with the rise of Der Trumpenf├╝hrer, even other evangelicals are facing a backlash if they criticize and/or oppose the policies of the new American Reich.  A piece in The Atlantic documents that backlash and nastiness some conservative Christians are facing for not supporting what might be described as an alt-right version of Christianity.  Here are article excerpts:
Earlier this month, Jonathan Martin jotted off a sad tweet. “I’ve lost count of the number of people who say they’ve had ministry jobs threatened/been fired for speaking out in some way in this season,” the Christian author and speaker wrote. Confirmation rolled in: one story from a church planter in California, another from a former worship leader in Indiana. These are “not people who would historically self-identify as progressives, at all,” Martin told me later. They’re “people who see themselves as being very faithful evangelicals.”
Donald Trump has divided conservative Christian communities. Most white Christians support Trump, or at least voted for him. Some who have spoken out against his presidency or his policies, though, have encountered backlash. For a small group of people working in Christian ministry, music, and nonprofit advocacy, the consequences have been tangible: They’ve faced pressure from their employers, seen funds withdrawn from their mission work, or lost performing gigs because of their political beliefs.
Many of these stories suggest a generational divide in the church. Young Christians who describe themselves as theological conservatives don’t necessarily identify as political conservatives, although some who do are also horrified by Trump. The issues they’re passionate about—whether it’s racial reconciliation or refugee care—might not match the priorities of their elders. . . . . For Millennials used to speaking their minds on social media, institutional rules curtailing their freedom—whether they’re standard policies or not—might be jarring.
Joy Beth Smith joined Focus on the Family in May 2016 as the editor of Boundless.org, a website for single people in the church. The 28-year-old is fairly media savvy: By the time she started at Focus, she was shopping a book proposal and had bylines at magazines like Christianity Today. When her blog posts for Boundless started getting picked up—including a piece republished by The Washington Post in June—her bosses were thrilled, she told me recently.
But Smith was also pushing the Boundless audience. . . .  When Omar Mateen murdered dozens of people at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando, she wrote a tribute post, which caused a “bit of a stir” among readers, she said: “I don’t know how you can get stirred up over lives that were lost, but people were. That’s kind of the conservative space we existed in and were working against at times.”
In October, Smith wrote a piece for The Washington Post about her experience with sexual assault, criticizing Trump for his derogatory comments toward women and Christian leaders for not speaking out. And that’s when she started getting serious internal pushback. . . . she had written the piece under her own byline, not as a representative of Focus. Batura told her to remove her affiliation with Boundless from her personal social-media accounts, and at the end of the day, she was given notice of an official conduct warning.
At the beginning of November, Focus circulated a “spokesperson” policy, according to Smith. It stated that public-facing representatives of the organization were not allowed to comment on candidates for political office, and could only speak on political issues with Focus’s authorization. Smith was asked to take down more posts . . .
On November 18, Smith’s bosses told her they didn’t think she could be a good spokesperson for Focus on the Family, according to Smith. She was given two options: She could resign, get a severance, promise not to take legal action, and sign a non-disparagement agreement. Or, she could choose to be fired. She chose firing.
Dingle, 34, writes and speaks about welcoming disabled people into the church. She has a background in special education, and several of her six young kids have special needs: One is in a wheelchair, another is autistic, and another is HIV-positive. She started working with Key Ministry, a Christian disability-advocacy organization, in 2014, speaking at conferences and writing blog posts for the organization.
Even though Dingle and her husband attended a Southern Baptist church at the time, she had always held some politically liberal positions, she said. But she didn’t feel like that would be a problem at Key.
As the 2016 election unfolded, political talk became more contentious, especially because Key was trying to develop relationships with conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Meanwhile, Dingle was developing her own voice. On her personal blog, she often talked about racism and her support for Black Lives Matter. In July, she wrote about why she was pro-life and voting for Hillary Clinton. It was a post “I expected no one to read,” she said, but it got picked up and circulated widely by Slate and Daily Kos.As the summer drew to a close, though, it became clear that her political writing was a problem. In September, Grcevich “offered an ultimatum,” Dingle said: “I could be more quiet politically and continue with Key Ministry, or if I continued to speak out on issues, I would be a liability.” So she resigned.
Dingle didn’t walk away with such cordial feelings. “It seems like there is this silencing of evangelical women if we don’t stick with approved talking points,” she told me. She felt pressured to leave and believed she would eventually be fired if she didn’t.
What’s significant about these women’s stories is that they appear to fit a broader pattern. Some conservative Christian communities seem to have become allergic to political disagreement of any kind, especially when their members speak out about Trump or Republican policies.
Audrey Assad is a 33-year-old Catholic musician who regularly performs at theologically conservative churches and events run by conservative denominations. Last year, she performed at Onething, an annual gathering of 20,000 young adults in the charismatic Christian world. In recent months, she’s been outspoken on Twitter, advocating for refugees, highlighting police brutality, and criticizing Trump. . . . . She’s gotten a lot of pushback, particularly from other Christian leaders. They’re “incensed that I would have the opinions that I do and demand that I reconsider them and post more about my kids,” she said.
In some conservative Christian communities, there is space for disagreement on issues like racism, refugees, and elections as long as people agree on the fundamentals, including same-sex marriage and abortion. But in many other places, this does not seem to be the case—it’s Republican politics all the way down. Those who disagree may have to choose whether to log off of Twitter and stay quiet, or start looking for a new job.
From following fundamentalist "Family values" organizations for over two decades, I am not the least surprised at what is happening.  Most of these groups are nothing short of mean and vicious toward those who do not follow their "party line" which is in lock step with GOP policies and denigrates anyone who isn't a white, heterosexual conservative "Christians."  The irony, of course, is that nearly 1/3 of Millennials have walked away from organized religion because of the hate and hypocrisy that are increasingly the norm of Christianity in America.  What's happening as described in the article will only accelerate the exodus - which will in the long run be a good thing. 

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