What's Left of the Religious Right? (1990 - Present)

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This is a podcast episode titled, What's Left of the Religious Right? (1990 - Present). The summary for this episode is: <p>This week is the finale of our three-part series on the religious right! If you missed it, go back to parts one and two, where we cover the history of Christianity in politics and how evangelicalism has become a political term (at least in some cases). In this episode, we break down three issues that led to the splitting of evangelicalism: Race, women's rights, and sex. Listen now to learn more!</p>
A new way of thinking about faith and politics
01:54 MIN
Issues that led to the splitting of evangelicalism: The race issue
04:08 MIN
How the divide between sides gets larger and larger
02:29 MIN
Issues that led to the splitting of evangelicalism: The role of a woman
03:27 MIN
Issues that led to the splitting of evangelicalism: Sex, sexuality, and gender
04:03 MIN
What's been going on the past few years
03:31 MIN

Speaker 1: Are you tired of tribalism?

Speaker 2: I think a lot of what the left supports is satanic.

Speaker 3: The only time religious freedom is invoked, is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Speaker 5: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Speaker 6: You could put half of Trumps supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Keith Simon: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 8: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican Party? And the answer is absolutely not.

Speaker 9: From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey, or the elephant.

Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon, and we choose Truth over Tribe.

Patrick Miller: Do you? We've been on a wild journey, three parts. This is the last part in a series on the rise of the religious right. We started in the 1950s, with the rise of the Civic religion, this kind of God and country Christianity that really swept over the whole nation. And then in our last episode, we look at how the secular left resisted that movements, which then had its mutual resistance in the form of religious leaders who make a merger with a Republican Party. And that's really the beginning of the rise of the religious right, which finally brings us to the modern era.

Keith Simon: Yeah, we're in part three today. Yeah. And so we've wanted to go back and show the rise of the religious right, because we want you to know, how did we get to our current modern moment? What was the path that went from evangelicals not really being involved in politics, to the point where evangelical primarily is a political identification?

Patrick Miller: Yeah, I mean, part of how we started this was asking the question, do we still want to be called evangelical? What does evangelical mean in 2021?

Keith Simon: And words change meaning. I watched the Flintstones when I was a kid. You guys?

Speaker 10: Oh, yeah.

Patrick Miller: Oh, yeah.

Keith Simon: Really?

Patrick Miller: Big Flintstones guy.

Keith Simon: I didn't realize it was still going on when you were around.

Patrick Miller: They were reruns for us.

Keith Simon: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Patrick Miller: You were watching them live, right?

Keith Simon: I was watching the original. Exactly right. But anyway, I just want to play the very end of the song that started the cartoon. And as you listen to this, just ask yourself, " Do these words all mean the same thing today that they did back then?"( singing). Yeah, you caught it, didn't you?

Patrick Miller: We'll have a gay old time.

Keith Simon: A gay old time. I mean, just take that word. It used to mean fun, happy, crazy. That's what they meant when they said, " We'll have a gay old time." We'll have a fun time. But nobody uses the word gay that way anymore. Right?

Patrick Miller: No.

Keith Simon: They're talking about sexual orientation today, when they use that word, and words change meanings. You could go through history and find lots of words that mean something today that they didn't mean originally. And so we're asking the question, " Has that happened to the word evangelical? Has it changed meanings?"

Patrick Miller: Well, and in particular, I think you and I would agree, 5, 10 years ago, when people would say that evangelicals a political term, I'd often find myself getting a little bit prickly over that, because I would say, " No, it's about a set of theological convictions. I realize there are some evangelicals who are very politically committed, but that's not what evangelical means." Yet, as we've shown in this podcast series, and as a lot of research has shown in recent time, the word evangelical has, over the last half century become an increasingly political term.

Keith Simon: But let's start with what it originally meant. So evangelical is simply taking a Greek word and bringing it into an English contact. So it originally meant good news or gospel. And that's what evangelical meant at one point in our nation's history, it meant someone who believed the good news about Jesus. But that has changed now, right? It used to be that people who were evangelicals were committed to a common set of biblical beliefs. They're usually defined as being crossed centered, believing that a person needed to be born again, have a conversion experience with God, and that they believed in the Bible as being the Word of God, and they were activists to some degree.

Patrick Miller: Yeah and in the original genesis of the term evangelical, which actually comes from the UK, was an insult. It was a way of describing a group of people who, according to the kind of elite more secular thinkers in England at the time, were taking their whole Christianity thing a little bit too seriously. So this is people like William Wilberforce who actually helped end the slave trade in the UK. They said, " Look, you got to stop this serious Jesus Christianity stuff. You're going way too far." And evangelicals kind of took it on as a positive monitor. They said, " Okay, that's great. Call us evangelical. We're happy to name it."

Keith Simon: Yeah, evangelicals were people who are serious about their faith and who were more committed to Jesus than they were to a denomination, an institution. And that's why you would find evangelicals among Methodist or Baptist or Presbyterians or Anglicans. It really transcended denomination.

Patrick Miller: And I think that is exactly what makes what's happening, especially in recent history, so interesting, because increasingly, evangelical is a political moniker. It's a way of describing someone's politics. So there's a guy named Ryan Burge, who's done a lot of really interesting studies out of Eastern Illinois University, and he's shown, for example, that 27% of evangelicals are not involved in a church.

Keith Simon: Yeah, just think about that for a second, people who self identify as an evangelical, but don't go to church. And this change of the terminology has become really confusing, because of course, no one says, " Hey, guys. This word has changed, meaning." It doesn't just happen overnight. Instead, it slowly evolves. And so there's a lot of confusion when people use that word. Do they mean a sincere, Jesus loving Christians? Or do they mean people who are identified as a political special interest group?

Patrick Miller: Well, if evangelicalism started off as people who took their faith too seriously, it's hard to imagine how that evolved into a term which could describe people who never go to church, who really have no active practices of faith in their life. And another study that Ryan Burge did, he showed that there's a number of features that you might think would be strongly associated with being evangelical, income, education, race, and he showed those actually aren't the most important things. There's two things that really matter. One is being a Republican. And the other one is church attendance. I mean, there still are a lot of evangelicals, who are very actively involved in church. But what's interesting is that that political identity, being a Republican, it's incredibly important for whether or not you see yourself as an evangelical. So again, we're seeing that a political identity has somehow come into this tent as defining what an evangelical is.

Keith Simon: Ryan Burge always has interesting stuff. Like you said, he's a sociologist, who has a special interest in religion in America. But when he posted that on Twitter, you followed up and asked him a question about it and he responded back. He tweeted back at you, right? And I thought what he tweeted was super interesting.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, he sent me another chart. The guy likes charts.

Keith Simon: Yeah. I don't really read graphs that much, so I'm always interested in somebody interpreting it for me.

Patrick Miller: I love a good chart.

Keith Simon: You do?

Patrick Miller: I do. I don't know why. I'm a visual learner.

Keith Simon: Yeah.

Patrick Miller: Give me a chart and I'll eat it up. But here's what the chart showed. It showed that A democrat who attends church weekly, so this is a, "Every week I am going to church and I self identify as a Democrat," is about as likely to self identify as evangelical as a Republican who attends church once a year. So that's really interesting, right? Because what it shows is that church attendance really isn't the only or maybe even the most important thing for whether or not you identify as an evangelical, it's being a Republican, that matters even more. Because if you only go to church once a year, and you're a Republican, you're as likely to identify as evangelical, as someone who's a democrat going once a week.

Keith Simon: Yeah. So here's this democrat going once a week, they don't think of themselves as evangelical, because I think in their mind, evangelical means a certain set of political beliefs that they don't hold. Now, I think we have to realize that maybe it's possible that this average democratic who is going weekly isn't going to an evangelical church, maybe they're going to a more mainline church, maybe they're identifying more with their denomination. That's not meant as a criticism. It's just saying that maybe that's one reason they don't identify as evangelical.

Patrick Miller: Well, and I think where things start getting really problematic is again, if we take the term evangelical to mean someone who's serious about their faith, serious about the Bible, serious about Jesus, and then that also equal signs being a Republican, that's maybe not a great place for us to be. And I think that goes back to our basic question of whether or not we want to be called evangelicals, because if being evangelical means I take the Bible seriously, I want the cross at the center of my theology, I think people do need to be converted, that we should take social action. If that's what being an evangelical is, then please absolutely sign me up. What we're trying to outline right now is that there's been a historical, a set of events that have happened that have changed the meaning of that word.

Keith Simon: Which brings us to what we want to talk about in this episode, and that is whether evangelicalism is fracturing. Because evangelicalism used to be a big tent that had a lot of different people with a lot of different priorities, could feel like they were a part of and connected to each other. But that big tent approach has kind of fractured. If you think of political parties, they try to have a big tent approach. So say in the conservative Republican Party, you had the foreign policy people, the social conservatives, and the economic growth people, they said that those were three legs on a stool that made up the Republican Party or the Democratic Party has had a large number of special interest groups. But sometimes those groups within a political party begin to have war with one another, they begin to say, " We don't share enough common ground." And the political party starts to divide. In some sense, that's what's happened within evangelicalism. There were a lot of different people with a lot of different concerns, and maybe priorities that call themselves an evangelical, but all of a sudden, that cohesiveness has begun to fracture.

Patrick Miller: And again, this comes out of history. I mean, we've been tracing the fractures that I think eventually develop into canyons in the modern era, things like race, how we think about women and abuse, sexuality, and gender. These are topics that have been important to evangelicals, but they were all able to be inside of the same tent. And now it seems like division over those issues is beginning to create chasms that people can't cross. But I think it would help to just make this a little more personal for people, like get into their experience of how you, if you go to a church right now, of how you might be experiencing these fractures. And I think it might be something like this. Are there people in your life who maybe 5, 10, 15 years ago, you could worship alongside? And you knew they had different politics than you. You knew they had different social concerns than you. But you knew, " Hey, this Jesus stuff, this is more central to our lives. So it's okay, I'm happy to worship by you. We don't have to agree on all those things." And now all of a sudden, do you feel like there's tension in those relationships?

Keith Simon: Well, you say 10 or 15 years ago, maybe we would have worshiped long people that we knew had different political beliefs, but I think we've only known that just because it made kind of common sense. We never talked about them. They weren't an issue that ever rose to the top of a conversation. They just were always on the back burner somehow. And all those things have now come on the front burner. They're all the things that people are talking about in day- to- day conversation, and it's what people are dividing over. So here's an example. Not long after the murder of George Floyd, in our worship service, our worship-

Patrick Miller: It was that week.

Keith Simon: Was it that week?

Patrick Miller: Yeah, it was the week that he was murdered.

Keith Simon: I think there's so much that happened in every church that summer. I know that morning, as we came to church, there were people who were hitting us up on social media saying, " If you don't talk about this in the service today, we're never coming back to The Crossing. So there was this demand that the church talk about that incident in the Sunday morning service.

Patrick Miller: Now we had already planned on addressing the murder of George Floyd during our service, that's not an uncommon thing for us to acknowledge tragedies give our congregation an opportunity to mourn. And so what we did during the service was we actually read the names of not just him, but other people who have been killed in similar circumstances. And when we did that, guess what happens though, we get the counter reaction.

Keith Simon: Yes. So I was meeting with people for the next several weeks having to talk it through with them, they were very upset that we read those names in the worship service and gave people a chance to limit their death. So here's another example is that we were praying, again, this is pretty common, against oppression and injustice, and I had a guy reach out to me, really great guy. There's no criticism of him in this. But he reached out and he said, " I think we're getting too political in our prayers. We're praying about oppression and injustice, and all this kind of stuff." And because I know the guy a little bit and respect him, I said, " Here, look up a press in BibleGateway. com, just do a word search on it, and tell me what you find." And the good guy he is, he actually did it. And he got back to me and he said, " Man, it's everywhere in the Bible, isn't it?" And he gave me some verses that really stuck out and were significant to him. And so the point was, when we pray against oppression and injustice, those aren't cultural, kind of sociological prayers.

Patrick Miller: We haven't been taken captive by politics.

Keith Simon: No. Those are gospel prayers. Those are the kinds of prayers that the Old Testament prophets prayed. But people are putting on their political lens being discipled more by the political parties and their phone and the media than they are Jesus. So instead of looking at the world through the lens of the Bible, they look at the world through the lens of their political tribe.

Patrick Miller: Well, I used to oversee a lot of small groups, and I saw these fractures happening inside of small groups. I started getting complaints from small group members about other small group members, and they came down to these exact same things. You'd have one person who says, " We don't talk about race enough." Another person saying, " We need to talk about race more. We don't talk about homosexuality enough." And other people saying, " We need to talk about LGBT issues way less." I mean, you get these debates that are happening internally. And people who were once friends start feuding with each other over cultural political issues that didn't divide them five years ago.

Keith Simon: Well, it's not just the frequency of which they talked about them.

Patrick Miller: How?

Keith Simon: It's their position that they held on it. I mean, everybody's happy for you to talk about it a lot as long as you agree with them. And nobody wants to be disagreed with ever, not even once.

Patrick Miller: And so you end up having conversations with people who maybe disagree with you and they often in the church are trying to hold people hostage emotionally. So you'll get people, again on both sides. We can use the racist view, it's a really easy one. There are people who say, " I'm going to leave your church unless you stop talking about the racial issue." And they will give you all kinds of emotional reasoning for why you should stop talking about race. But then you'll get the exact opposite, you'll get people who say, " Hey, you cannot critique any aspect of something like critical race theory, for example, and the way that it honestly changes the Bible's view on human dignity and the image of God." Some really key important issues. They say, " Well, you can't critique anything like that." And when you ask, " Why?" They say, " Well, it hurts my feelings when you do it." And so you have people on both sides, they're fracturing, they can't be with each other, and they're trying to hold everyone hostage, emotionally.

Keith Simon: Here's something funny is that when we had the shutdown, because of COVID, and then we were able to slowly come back, we ran an outdoor service, in addition to the indoor service. And like probably every church, we had people on both extremes and everywhere in between. So the people who were scared to death of COVID, and the people who refuse to wear masks, because they thought COVID was a hoax, they both loved our outdoor worship service for different reasons. So they didn't realize it, but they were sitting right next to the person who had a completely different belief. They're an anti- masker, masks are from Satan, sitting right next to somebody who is too scared to walk inside, even if they're triple- masked, because they thought they were going to die immediately. But they all love the outdoor worship service. So the outdoor worship service kind of became a picture of what the church should always be.

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Keith Simon: People who disagree with one another about cultural topics, but who find common ground in Jesus. The only reason it wasn't quite a Kumbaya moment is because neither side quite realized who is sitting next to them. What would have been perfect is if they would have embraced that and realized, " We're sitting next to people who really disagree with us, but we both love Jesus and that's okay." Because that's what the church should be, that we put our Jesus glasses on before we look out at the world and see what's happening.

Patrick Miller: So let me bring it back to your personal experience again. Again, maybe you are experiencing stress, anxiety, or even just tension in relationships that you didn't have, that tension wasn't there before. And you're not quite sure why it's there. You know maybe it has something to do with cultural and political issues. And you don't want it to be in your relationship with a brother or a sister, in Christ, but you don't know how to escape it. Or maybe on the other side, you're starting to feel a little bit culturally homeless. You're kind of looking at both sides and you see the extremes and you think, " Well, neither one of these seems to get it right. Neither one of these seems to be putting Jesus in the center and that's what I want to do." And you're wondering, " Is there a place for me to go where I can find other Christians who haven't either merged evangelicalism with republicanism on the right, or an increasingly growing movement of Christians who are merging their faith with progressivism on the left." And so if that's you, I mean, I think Keith and I are probably right there alongside you, in that stress, and in that anxiety, trying to figure out a way forward, but I want to try and name what's happening. And it's what you just said at the end there, Keith. I think that the church has somehow learned to put cultural and political identity in front of our identity in Christ. We're foregrounding culture, we're foregrounding politics, and we're putting Jesus, and the Bible, and its authority, and its vision of how the world should be into the background.

Keith Simon: So as an example, there's a perfect example. CNN is doing a focus group with people who supported President Trump, and they're trying to figure out exactly why did these people support him? And the CNN host is kind of bewildered. It's almost like she's at the zoo looking at these foreign animals like, " Okay, I've heard about you." It's like a sociological study or whatever. But there is a guy in the focus group, I just want you to listen to what he says.

Speaker 11: If Jesus Christ gets down off the cross and told me, " Trump is with Russia." I will tell him, " Hold on a second, I need to check with the President if it's true."

Patrick Miller: I mean, this can not be real. This cannot be real.

Keith Simon: But you watched it. He's a real dude. Owns a pest control company. Real dude. And the people's reaction of who are in this focus group when he said that, were a little bit shocked. Now, then-

Patrick Miller: They don't look appalled. They kind of laugh like, " Yeah, I kind of get what you're saying."

Keith Simon: Yeah. I'm sure he did that for entertainment value, to some extent. Right?

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Keith Simon: He was having fun with it and wanting to speak in a bit of hyperbole, but it's a perfect illustration about how people trust their political party, their political candidate, their news media, their new sources, who they follow on Twitter more than they trust Jesus. So even if Jesus got down off the cross and told them something, he would have to verify that with President Trump. And it's absurd, but it's a little metaphor, a little picture for where we are.

Patrick Miller: Well and I think it's true on both sides. I've seen something strange happen. And it was in a different podcast, I heard someone describe this exact thing. And I was like, " Yes, absolutely." Where I've seen people who were once kind of part of this cultural political right, begin to see the problems with it. They say, " Yeah, this isn't right. There's some things that don't fit. There's some things that don't work." And rather than maybe moving towards a... Moderate's not the right word. But rather than moving towards Jesus and saying, " I need to set aside my loyalty to the right and figure out what Jesus says about these things," instead, they just swung straight into a left cultural identity. I mean, it was just in a matter of weeks, they went from being on the right to now I'm over here on the left, and they're trying to do the exact same thing. They're trying to merge their left ideology with Jesus in the exact same way they were before trying to merge their right ideology with Jesus.

Keith Simon: So I guess what you're saying then, is that, in some ways, people on the hard right and hard left have more in common with each other than they do with us. Not necessarily because they hold the same positions. I mean, obviously, they don't, but because of the way they're looking at the world, they're putting their political lens in first. And what we're trying to do, I'm not saying we're good at it, I'm not saying we've arrived or anything. But what we're trying to do with each other and with you, is put Jesus first and then hold on to all these other beliefs.

Patrick Miller: I agree with you, Keith. I might frame it differently. What I would say is that The history of the religious right shows us that over the last half century, we've developed a new way of thinking about faith and politics. And that new way is a merger of those two things. And if that's the way that you're used to thinking about it, it doesn't matter whether you're on the right or the left, you're just applying the exact same principles, that political interests come before theological interests, that a political party's platform comes before Jesus's platform. You're training yourself to put something first and something else second, and I think what we're trying to do again, is inver that order, flip it out.

Keith Simon: Okay. So this brings us to our current moment in which we are living in the middle of this culture war, maybe not even in the middle of it, maybe toward the end of it, kind of the grounds all been burned beneath our feet. And it's this war between the religious right and the secular left. If you throw in the pandemic, where people are isolated, you throw in social media, where people have become more and more outraged. And then you throw in this fact that we've been discussing about how people think about the world through the lens of their political party instead of their faith, and you have the recipe for kind of disaster. What you really have the recipe for is the fracturing of evangelicalism along these fault lines that we've been exploring in the last few episodes. So today, we're not going to bring up any new topics. These are the same topics that we've traced from the 1950s all the way to the current moment. They're the topics of race, women, and how they interact within the cultural workforce in the modern world, how families are structured, and sexuality and gender. We're just going to ask how has that played out in the last couple of decades? And how has it led to the splitting of evangelicalism?

Patrick Miller: Yeah, why is it that right now this big tent that helped people together for two centuries is beginning to divide? Why is it that now we see people who are very serious about Jesus very seriously considering leaving behind evangelicalism altogether, while not leaving behind orthodoxy, the Bible's authority, and Jesus being the center of their lives? These are really tremendous cultural shifts that we're experiencing right now.

Keith Simon: Okay. So as we go through these, I just want to make sure you understand we're not trying to take sides, we're not trying to explore the whole debate. We're just trying to walk you through historically where these fault lines have developed and how they developed. So don't expect us to say, " Hey, this is where we stand on the race issue or women's issues or sexuality issues." That's not the point of this conversation.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, we're trying to show how these issues have fractured us. So let's start and talk about race.

Keith Simon: So as we think about the race issue, we've already said that there are people who are confident that the church should be very involved in endorsing critical race theory and other visions of critical social justice that they have bought into, and other people out there in the evangelical world are arguing more for a colorblind society. Both of these positions are frustrated with churches because they aren't hearing from their church what they want to hear, what they expect to hear, what they in some instances demand to hear. So race is one of these fault lines.

Patrick Miller: And both perspectives are often represented in the same church. They're dividing crosstalk in our church.

Keith Simon: 100%.

Patrick Miller: They're dividing actual churches. And I really want to make a crystal clear point here. This is not an issue that puts white people and black people on different sides. I know white people on both sides, I know black people on both sides. And so if you're hearing that, you probably have already misrepresented the narrative. But let's walk through the record of kind of what's happened, how have we gotten to this point, and how we think about race. And we've already shown in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, that evangelicals have, to put it mildly, had a sour record on the issue of race, which brings us up to the 90s and the Promise Keeper rallies.

Keith Simon: Yeah. Did you ever go to a Promise Keeper rally?

Patrick Miller: No.

Keith Simon: Neither one of you?

Patrick Miller: I was two years old in the 90s.

Keith Simon: God bless you. I went to a Promise Keepers rally. And to be honest, I think, as I look back on it, I'm a little bit embarrassed about my take on the racial reconciliation part of it. And if you're not familiar with it, this is a movement started by Bill McCartney, who was the head coach at the University of Colorado, it was a gathering of men at stadium rallies in which they talked about being better husbands, better fathers, better people in their community. And one of the emphasis that Promise Keepers had was on racial reconciliation. And so they had a big emphasis on platforming black speakers. I remember one song of this Promise Keeper rally I went to, it was Let The Walls Fall Down. And I was at a different point in my faith. And I remember thinking, " Why are we bringing social issues into this? I thought this was supposed to be a Christian conference." And I wanted to hear about how I needed to follow Jesus personally. I didn't really want to hear about racial justice, because I just didn't think that that was a Christian issue. And what's interesting is that as Promise Keepers started emphasizing racial reconciliation more and more, that was also at a time that it began to decline. And eventually it kind of went out of business. Now, some people made the case that because they emphasized racial reconciliation, that's why people didn't want to go to these big rallies anymore. That may very well be true, I don't know that you can show that. I know, at a similar time, they stopped charging for their events. And I think they did that with the best of intentions.

Patrick Miller: Oh, yeah.

Keith Simon: Maybe it was to even bring in people who couldn't afford to go. But it turns out, if you don't charge for your events, then pretty soon you close your doors because you don't have any money. But Promise Keepers emphasized racial reconciliation, and then kind of went kaput.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So we see this little blip of racial reconciliation. In fact, I would say a new note on how evangelicals are talking about race. I mean, we really don't have examples of this up until that point, but it really is just a blip. After that, race isn't much of a salient issue for evangelicals, until we get up to the Obama presidency. It's in the Obama presidency that we have the entire birther movement, which questioned whether or not he was born in America. And as many people have pointed out, this does seem to be racially motivated in the sense that he's black. And while you're black, are you from America. Also, his name, Barack Hussein Obama, there was some of the Islam stuff going on in there. And so you had people, Donald Trump being one of them, who were saying, " This guy wasn't born in America, he can't be a president. Show me your birth certificate to prove it." And unfortunately, there was a good chunk of evangelicals who were very supportive of this movement. Now, whether or not it was because of race, you can't get into people's heads. It's difficult to tell. But it's hard not to think that that played a role in it.

Keith Simon: Well, President Obama's family had some roots in Kenya. And so what always happens in these situations is that a story is not made up whole cloth. They take certain set of circumstances and look for opportunities to turn you against a political candidate. And that's what it seems like some people involved in the birther movement did, there was enough circumstances around his upbringing.

Patrick Miller: His father was a Muslim until he was six, and then he was converted to Christianity, and after that became an atheist. That was part of it. And then obviously, the fact that his father wasn't an American citizen is the other half of it.

Keith Simon: So they take advantage of those circumstances. But clearly... I say clearly. To me, it seems clearly that race was at least part of it. People talk about dog whistles, which makes sounds that only dogs can hear, but no one else and I think they would say this was a dog whistle, that those with ears to hear could hear that this was racially tinged or racially motivated to say, " He's the other. He's not like one of us." Now, at the same time, there were a lot of people who were evangelicals, and again, are we talking about political beliefs? Are we talking about religious identity? Who knows? It's all a big mess. But who voted for Obama? He did pretty well with people like your age.

Patrick Miller: I was going to say, he did far better than Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 election. And we'll get into why in part, but part of it was that he had a very public faith. He talked about his faith a lot. He seemed to have a healthy marriage and a healthy family. And they were very active about recruiting evangelicals into their movement. And so the Obama campaign was, compared to other democratic campaigns very successful with evangelicals.

Keith Simon: Now remember, we're not trying to argue for or against any of this stuff. We're just saying, " Here's where the fault line developed." And it developed in the Obama years, between two categories. On one side, you've got this birther movement and what it represents, people who are afraid of those who are different than them. And on the other side, you've got people saying, " Well, look, we're in a post- racial society now. Maybe even some would call it a colorblind society. We've elected a black man." And I think a lot of people voted for President Obama, a lot of Christians voted for him, because he was black and they wanted to turn the page on a dark part of our history.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I mean, that was a really common conversation at the time. Today the word colorblind has become kind of a naughty word. You're not supposed to say post- racial society the same. But if you go back and you read articles from, by the way, both people on the right and the left, this was a conversation that was happening. There was lots of evangelicals who embraced this, they say, " Yes, we want to be a post- racial society." The real fault lines begin to form in kind of the 2010s, especially around 2015, that time period. There's a number of events that happen. There's a story of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who's walking through a neighborhood and is gunned down by George Zimmerman. And then there's also the story of Michael Brown, where police officer Darren Wilson, shot Michael Brown in the street. And again, these are complex stories, they're not very black and white, especially the Michael Brown story. Was Michael Brown reaching for his gun? Was Darren Wilson trying to defend himself? But what this did, regardless of your perspective on the individual stories, is it kind of pulled a veil off for a lot of people. And it showed to a lot of white people, by the way, myself included, that the black experience in America wasn't rosy. That just because we passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 didn't mean that the issues that were facing black people had suddenly come to a close. And so this led a lot of evangelical leaders to start talking more about racial reconciliation. John Piper wrote a book called Bloodlines that got a lot of people reading it, where he was advocating for racial reconciliation. You have black leaders like James Perkins, who marched alongside Martin Luther King, the rapper Lecrae, Benjamin Watson, and you have a lot of white leaders out there saying, " Hey, we need to talk about bringing reconciliation to the church. We need white and black Christians worshiping alongside one another. The day has come to make Sunday mornings not the most segregated day of the week."

Keith Simon: The Michael Brown incident happened in 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. We live two hours away from that in Columbia, Missouri, where the University of Missouri is. And because of the Michael Brown incident, as well as other things that happened here locally, it was a time of great racial tension both on the campus at the university, but also in the wider community. And we reached out to a lot of black pastors in our area and said, " Hey, could we get together with you?" And then we invited a bunch of pastors from predominantly white churches, and we started having breakfasts, and they were once a month, and then it became once a quarter, and eventually, they kind of fizzled out. Not because anything bad happened, but just because people's schedules and business and that kind of thing, the need didn't seem as pressing. But it was a time where we develop some good friendships that we still have today. And we all learned a lot. I think everybody there would say it was good and it gave us an opportunity to discuss things, to ask questions that we would be afraid to ask in a normal group setting. And I walked away with a greater appreciation for the black experience, at least in our area than I had before we started those.

Patrick Miller: I can speak personally, I learned a tremendous amount during that period from black pastors and black leaders, and just realized how blind I was to the problem of race in our local community in Colombia, but obviously, more broadly in the United States. But here's what's interesting, something like reconciliation, at least to my mind should be uncontroversial. What can be more uncontroversial than saying, " Hey, we need to worship together. White people who have a history of sin and violence and oppression against the black community need to account for that. And black people, the call to forgiveness." That sounds to me just like a totally uncontroversial thing. And yet there was a tremendous amount of resistance from within our church and within other churches, to the racial reconciliation movements.

Keith Simon: Well, it's kind of like a lot of people wanted it, the vast majority of people wanted it. But it's not so much, do you want? It's, how do you get there? There's a lot of past hurt. There's a lot of assumptions, and those aren't easily overcome. So this becomes one of the fault lines is just race. Do you see this as a colorblind society that we're post- racial? We've elected a black president, come on, let's get over it. Or do you see that there's a lot of systemic racism, a lot of racism that is holding black people back. They're being treated differently by law enforcement and court systems. Just how do you see that?

Patrick Miller: I think that's exactly right, Keith, but I actually want to describe a further the division that happens. So if during the reconciliation people you have those who are in favor of racial reconciliation, and some of the hard conversations that have to come with that, and those who say, " No, to colorblind society. We've already moved past this, we shouldn't be talking about this." A further fracture develops within the racial reconciliation community, because there's people who are talking about reconciliation who over time, I think, understandably start to get exhausted by that war. And as they get more and more exhausted, they start becoming more and more frustrated with the white church. I think add into that, that people within the racial reconciliation movement began to realize that this isn't just a matter of reconciliation. There's also matters of justice here. In other words, when you look at the black experience, and again, the past oppression that happened, this was oppression that was instigated by the government. It was a matter of justice and injustice. And when you look at the long term repercussions of that, there's still matters of justice that need to be dealt with today. And so they said, " Yes, let's reconcile but also let's acknowledge the fact that there are social injustices, which are making this really challenging." And so within the racial reconciliation camp, you begin to see a further divide. Those who say, " Yes, I want to talk about reconciliation. But no, we don't want to have the justice conversation." Now let's go to that justice group. So we have colorblind society, we have racial reconciliation, then we have racial justice. Well, the justice group actually ends up in a very short period of time going through yet another divide that is separating people. And those who within the justice group want to embrace the thinking of people like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi, who are proponents of what we've talked about in previous podcasts, critical race theory or critical theory. And I think you and I would both agree that there's good and bad things in their books, but it's simply the truth that a Christian worldview cannot gel well with the postmodern worldview proposed by Kendi and DiAngelo. Kendi says that if you want to be anti- racist, you need to be pro every LGBT issue out there, you need to be a thoroughgoing progressive, you need to be anti- capitalist. Robin DiAngelo says, " Yeah, this image of God, everybody has equal dignity, everybody should be treated the same way thing is nice, but the reality is that you can divide up the world into oppressed and oppressors." So there's lots of things in this critical theory area that that people begin to divide over. So now you have justice people who say, " Yes, I want racial justice. But no, I don't want the critical theory." And then you have Christians who say, " Yes, I want racial justice and I want the critical theory." Is this making sense? Colorblind, racial reconciliation. Justice, no critical theory. Justice with critical theory. This is how we begin to divide.

Keith Simon: I guess all this just kind of leaves you feeling empty, or at least me feeling empty. Because there's this noble goal that I think most Christians have, maybe almost all Christians, that we want there to be some sort of racial reconciliation. And yes, we need to wrestle with the fact, does that involve repentance? Does that involve repairing the relationship in some way? And those are hard conversations. But then you have these organizations, maybe it's Black Lives Matter, that in some sensors, say things that really needed to be sad, and that we could agree with. And another sense, is thoroughly against the Christian view of the family, and the Christian view of sexuality and gender. And what that does is it ends up dividing. Are you for or against Black Lives Matter becomes, instead of a healing thing, it becomes a divisive thing. Then you get the authors, like you mentioned, DiAngelo and Kendi and others be the bridge that came out of all of that. And instead of it being healing, it is now a thing that causes division. So this shows the fault lines within evangelicalism. These social issues are pressing in on us, but we have completely different reactions to them, a lot of it based on politics, theology, the whole thing. And it's just frustrating to me, because it doesn't feel like we're making any progress. It feels like if anything, we're becoming divided into smaller tribes that are more committed to their side winning than they are to any sort of real unity.

Patrick Miller: Well, and this goes back to our original thesis. I think what's happening in evangelicalism is you've got two kinds of people. Those who put their political cultural identity first and Jesus second. And those who want to put Jesus theology, the Bible first and their political cultural identity second. And you're seeing this come to life on race. The people on the kind of colorblind, let's stop talking about race, they're putting a political cultural identity first. And in fact, what they're often doing now is they're looking at things like CRT and they're using it as a bludgeon to say, " See, this is why we can't talk about race because you hear all this crazy stuff that's coming out of critical race theory." Well, again, you're putting your political, social, cultural identity first but the exact same thing's happening on the left. People who are now fully buying into the Ibram X. Kendi. I've watched a sermon clip of someone who I would have agreed with five years ago talking about how God is queer and we need to embrace queer identity. And then you got I think people who are in the middle. And the point is not moderation. You got people who are trying to say, " No." The Bible has a lot to say about race. It has a lot to say about justice. It has a lot to say about equity properly defined, and we need to take those things seriously as followers of Jesus, as part of what loving our neighbors looks like.

Keith Simon: Do you ever get to the end of a conversation and feel more hopeless than you did when you began it? That's where I am. I mean, just hearing us talk and hearing you explain, I think very accurately the divisions. Is there any hope? I mean, okay, let's switch. Let's switch up topics and begin to think about women, their role in society, and how we think about abuse.

Patrick Miller: Another reason that churches are dividing, that evangelicalism is fracturing, centers around women. What's their role in the workforce? What's their role in the church? How do we organize families? And a related issue to that is abuse and how churches have handled abuse and thought about abuse. Now, again, remember, there's a long history here, we've already traced it out. You can think about the sexual revolution or the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment, or these defenses that happened from within Christianity, people like James Dobson of the traditional housewife being the absolute norm. If you are a woman, you should be at home with your kids, you should not be in the workforce.

Keith Simon: So because of a cultural revolution, whether it was World War Two, bringing women out of the home to work in factories, or whether it is the pill that divorced sex, and children, and marriage, and no- fault divorce, and all that, whatever the reason, all those things caused cultural change, cultural upheaval. And now the church was put in a position where it had to speak to these issues. And for a long time, people were scared of the change. And they argued that it was unbiblical. They argued that we were going to see the downfall of our country because we were leaving, quote- unquote, God's way of doing things.

Patrick Miller: And God's way of doing things. Just so we're clear, Keith isn't saying that we're pro go out and have sex with whoever you want to have sex with. We're saying they would say God's way of doing things was the 1950s. The housewife at home, the husband out being the breadwinner, she takes care of the house, she takes care of the kids, she doesn't work.

Keith Simon: And that is a little bit historically short sighted. It misses the complexities of how families have worked for the last couple 100 years. But when you slap the biblical label on a particular decade, you run the risk of emphasizing things that the Bible really doesn't. And I think that's what happened. Now, historically, you also have the continuation of the story of the cultural change. So for example, Hillary Clinton, as first lady says things that really rocks the boat of a lot of traditional evangelicals.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So if we're going to pick up what you're doing, the story of how evangelicals interact with the question of gender in the world, it does help to start with Hillary Clinton. She was an outspoken feminist. She was very loudly pro choice. She said a lot of statements that frankly demeaned stay- at- home moms.

Keith Simon: Yeah. She had this whole thing about, " What did you want me to do? Stay home and bake cookies?" And she said it in a real smart alec voice. It wasn't that that wasn't a choice that she made, it was that she was demeaning or looking down on people who made that choice. And she was a woman who didn't change her name when she got married. She didn't take her husband's name until they started entering political life and running for political positions down in Arkansas. She was Hillary Rodham and then eventually became a Hillary Rodham Clinton. So you can see that she is pressing this gender conversation, she is putting it right in everyone's face, not because she did anything wrong, but just because she was now going to be the first lady of the United States.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, and everything she does presses against what evangelicals had been saying about what a woman should be. And so naturally, they were very resistant to Hillary Rodham Clinton, they were very resistant to her husband. And it was again, because they had a different cultural vision of what femininity was supposed to look like.

Keith Simon: This is everything they warned against. So when they see Hillary Rodham Clinton, they say, " Yeah. Remember, we told you this kind of stuff was going to happen. And here is the evidence that we were right."

Patrick Miller: Now around this exact same time, in the late 80s, early 90s, a group forms called the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Keith Simon: Were you on that council?

Patrick Miller: I don't think I'd be allowed on that council. But they end up writing a statement called the Danvers Statement, which articulates their vision of what gender should look like at home, in the church, in the workforce. And this statement, the Danvers Statements, it's really important because it gets adopted by the SBC, the Southern Baptist Convention and the PCA, the Presbyterian Church in America, which are two of the most important evangelical denominations out there. It's also important because the SBC up until this point, was kind of neutral on the issue of women being ordained and women being active in certain roles and ministry, and this moved them into a very conservative position where they would have said, " No, not only women can't be ordained, but they cannot teach, they should not be in any form of authority over a man." And so this is a big shift.

Keith Simon: And the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood made a couple different kinds of arguments. One argument was more directly related to the Bible. And it said, " Here's how God has set up families and how God set up churches." Now you can agree or disagree. I don't know. We're just trying to draw the fault line between those who are part of the evangelical feminist movement, and those who are more traditional and how they think about gender. And the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood said, " Okay, here's a biblical argument of how the church should be structured." But then what happened is some of their key leaders began to leave what the Bible spoke clearly about, and speak about how women should interact in culture, and specifically, the workforce. And it got pretty weird.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, so the two people you're talking about are Wayne Grudem and John Piper and I want to paint nuanced pictures of people. John Piper's had a very positive influence on his life. Now, I think his perspective on women, I personally have very strong disagreements with him on but he writes a book called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Keith Simon: Well, they both edited that book.

Patrick Miller: Yes, they edited it, they worked on it, and this comes from that council. So this is kind of their declaration, if you will, of what it means to be a part of their group.

Keith Simon: A lot of biblical scholars and pastors who agreed with them contributed to this book. But then they wrote part of the book, some of the chapters, and that's kind of where they probably went beyond what scripture said.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, so I'll read some quotes from it. This is what they said, " To the degree that a woman's influence over a man is personal and directive, it will generally offend a man's good, God given sense of responsibility and leadership and thus controvert God's created order." They go on to say that if there's instances where a Christian woman, this is a quote, may find herself in roles, that puts some men in a subordinate role to her. So examples of this would be a woman who's maybe a staff doctor with interns.

Keith Simon: Now, do they include these examples? Or are these your examples?

Patrick Miller: These are examples they came, they list out a bunch of them, so these aren't mine, these are theirs. A college professor who has students, that'd be a woman who's the professor and male students. A manager, a female manager, and her employees. Or my personal favorite, a female bus driver and her passengers. These are all situations that put men in a subordinate role to a woman, and this is what they say. They say that in these situations, they may very well stretch appropriate expressions of femininity beyond the breaking points.

Keith Simon: Okay, so we could tear that apart, laugh at it, mock it.

Patrick Miller: It's easy to dunk on.

Keith Simon: It's easy to dunk on. Let's just say that we are far from agreeing with them. But I think the big thing is the fault lines. On one side, the evangelical feminists. On the other side it's going to stretch proper gender roles for a woman to be a bus driver with male passengers. I mean, you can see how the church is now going to split. As soon as you take off those Jesus glasses, and put on the political tribe or the cultural tribe glasses, we don't have that much in common anymore. The only thing holding us together was Jesus. It wasn't our view about men, women gender. And so as soon as we take off Jesus, we're going to split.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. Well, and I think you're hitting the nail on the head. They took a cultural political identity, this 1950s housewife, and they tried to baptize it using scripture. And then they tried to apply those principles to all of life such that there should be no woman who has any authority over a man. And so it's not shocking that you're going to get fault lines that begin to divide. I would say on the one side of evangelicals, who have a more patriarchal view of the world, that women should, in general, be in submission to men. And evangelicals on the other side, who would say, " No, that doesn't seem quite right now." That other side is going to begin to have its own divides over time. But that other side is saying, " Look, there's a difference between men and women and we do have to figure out how we articulate that. But this strict patriarchal vision that you have, this doesn't square with the Bible." I mean, you went through this, you heard them speak.

Keith Simon: Yeah, Wayne Grudem was a professor of mine at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. And he was a good guy, I assume. He's-

Patrick Miller: Well, he left his job to go take care of his wife when she got sick, which most men wouldn't do. So I mean, we don't want... Again, let's paint nuanced pictures here.

Keith Simon: Yeah, he's a good dude. And he was a good teacher. But I remember walking right outside the chapel area, and I was looking at a sheet that he had handed out in class, and it was trying to answer the question, " What can women do in the church." And I had a list, I don't know, maybe 25, 30 things on the list. And it ranged from positions of ultimate authority and leadership down to the smallest role that you can imagine. And we were to try to read through that list and draw a line between what women could and couldn't do in the church according to the way we understood the Bible. And I just remember looking at that list and thinking, " This is a really dangerous question to ask, 'What can women do in the church?'" It was I guess, I don't know, I think you'd say, humiliating or demeaning or treating women like they were children. I don't know, I just said, " Look, I'm out." I remember having this mental conversation with myself, and which said, " I'm going to walk away from this paradigm, there has to be a better way to think about this, a more biblical, God honoring way to think about it."

Patrick Miller: Well, and that brings up our point, what's going to come first? Theology in the Bible, or political cultural identities? And I think if you put the Bible first, you never would come to the point where you're writing out a list of activities and trying to define what a woman can and can't do. Because guess what, that list does not exist in the Bible. And the Bible has a shocking amount of things that you see women doing, leading, teaching. I mean, the list is almost endless of what you see women doing so again, the list just doesn't make any sense.

Keith Simon: I like what you said earlier, though, when you said that we take a cultural position and then baptize it with biblical language. So super quick story. I'm trying to decide what seminary to go to. And there's a seminary in Dallas, Texas that I was seriously considering. And when I was talking to the admissions officer, he said, " Hey, one of the things you need to do is you need to sign this sheet of paper, if you're going to come that says you won't drink alcohol." And at this point in my life I didn't drink alcohol, really. And I'm like, " I have to sign a statement that don't drink alcohol?" And he said, "Yeah." I go, "Well, on Christmas Eve, we usually have a glass of wine with my family's. It's not even good wine, but it's wine" He goes, " No, not if you're going to come to seminary here." And I said, " Well, do I have to sign something that says, I won't beat my wife?" And he's paused. And I go, " I'm sorry, I didn't hear you." And he goes, " No, you don't have to sign." I go, " So I can beat my wife, but I can't have a glass of wine on Christmas Eve?" And he says, " Well, no, we don't want you to beat your wife either." And I go, " Why do I have to sign something about alcohol but not about wife beating?" And he said, " Well, we think wife..." Here's the key point. " We think it's clear in the Bible that you shouldn't beat your wife." And I said, " So it's unclear that you shouldn't drink alcohol." And he said, " Yeah, that's a gray issue." And I said, "Okay. Well, what other areas does the Bible consider gray that you make black and white and make people sign statements about?" And he didn't have any answer and I didn't go to seminary there. Thank goodness for us.

Patrick Miller: They weren't going to accept you after that anyways.

Keith Simon: No, no. So here's the connection, is that they took a cultural issue, alcohol, and they tried to baptize it in religious language, biblical language. And that's where they got off track. Well, that relates back to what you're saying is we take a cultural view of men, women, relationships, and we try to baptize it in the Bible. Now, again, we're not arguing this. If we were trying to make a big point of this, we'd say, " Hey, men, women are different. They don't have to be equal in every way. Blah, blah, blah." That's not the point. The point is the fault lines are forming because culture is trumping, no pun intended, trumping Jesus.

Patrick Miller: Yes. So let's keep following that theme and that thread. If you've been listening to the podcast, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, they've discussed this exact topic. Mars Hill was like a lot of churches that eventually influence, that took a very strict position on women. Mark Driscoll very publicly said, " If you're a woman and you want to go to work, have more kids, that's your job." They wouldn't allow people who had wives who did work to be elders inside of their church or pastors.

Keith Simon: Yeah. So if you're a man, you could be an elder, but not if your wife worked outside the home. They took that idea of wives submit to your husbands and they just ran wild and crazy with it and tried to expand that into every area of life. It meant complete submissiveness. The more you listen to it, just the more absurd it becomes, but they weren't the only ones.

Patrick Miller: No.

Keith Simon: I mean, you've got lots of people who are running down this road.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, John Eldredge is someone who baptizes cultural ideas. So he kind of creates these archetypes for what a man and a woman should be. A man should be this knight who is arriving to rescue the damsel in distress. And the woman should be said damsel in distress in need of her rescuer.

Keith Simon: When you read books like that, like men are supposed to go out and beat drums in the woods. Do you identify with that at all?

Patrick Miller: I feel overwhelmed. I'm like, " I can't do this."

Keith Simon: I know. I mean, I feel so unmanly when I read stuff like that.

Patrick Miller: But the funny thing was that I mean, he baptized all kinds of culture. He doesn't have original sin. Instead, he has daddy wounds. It's very Freudian. And so there's so many different ways that John Eldredge had really just completely gotten off the bus of Orthodox Christianity, but no one called it out because he had this very traditional affirmation of what it means to be a man and a woman. In other words, because he aligned with evangelicals on this cultural political identity, they were willing to give him a pass on the fact that he totally misunderstood the gospel.

Keith Simon: That's exactly right. It's a narrow definition of what it means to be a man or a woman. And when I hear those narrow definitions of manhood, I don't fit most of those. And so I can imagine women you go, " I don't fit that exactly." It doesn't mean I'm not a man, it doesn't mean I'm not a woman, it just means I don't fit your narrow traditional cultural stereotypes.

Patrick Miller: Look, if God wanted to give us a clear definition of what it means to be a man and woman, I suspect he would have done it. And I just have to say, it's hard to look in the Bible and come up with a list of this is exactly "what it means to be a man" and this is exactly "what it means to be a woman." And yet the Bible is also clear that there is such a thing as a man, there's such a thing as a woman, and those things really matter. So I just don't want to be more clear than the Bible is on these issues.

Keith Simon: Amen. All this kind of funnels into how the church handles abuse within the church, it funnels into the Me Too movement, which starts as a secular movement against women being taken advantage of by men in power. But then of course, that is exposed as happening within the church too. So it was from Me Too, to church, to women being taken advantage of sexually by people in power. You think of Bill Hybels or Ravi Zacharias and the moral corruption of the religious right leadership, so that you see someone like Jerry Falwell Jr., whose dad, Jerry Falwell Sr., led a boycott against Playboy magazine. Now he is standing with Donald Trump in Trump's office in front of a Playboy magazine that Trump was on the cover of and getting his picture taken and put on a national publication. So you just see this whole corruption of sex and gender within evangelicalism.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, and the people who bring a lot of this to light are reacting to this very strong, hierarchical, patriarchal version of gender and gender role. You can think of people like Rachel Held Evans, Rachael Denhollander, more recently Beth Allison Barr and Amiee Byrd. So you have a lot of women who are coming out who are trying to resist this strong, hierarchical, patriarchal version of Christianity. But this is where the fault lines start forming. So on the one hand, you have people who want to continue to hold to the Driscoll, Piper, Grudem version of what men and women can't do, those people are still out there. And then you have people who are soft, and they say, " Well, that is really way too far." But they begin to divide, even within themselves on how they should respond to these abuse issues. Is having men in charge in churches being ordained as pastors? Does that actually produce misogyny? Is there no way around it? And you get people saying, " Yes, there's no way." If men are the only people in charge, there will be misogyny, there will be abuse. That's what creates us. And so that creates another divide, another fracturing point within evangelicalism.

Keith Simon: So I think it's really interesting how evangelicals responded to the women's issue, especially abuse issue under Clinton than they did Trump. I mean, Clinton famously had these affairs, allegedly several, but the Monica Lewinsky one for sure.

Patrick Miller: Not just affairs. I mean, he was accused of rape, he was accused of using his power to abuse women.

Keith Simon: Well, even in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, we know that he used his position as President of the United States to take advantage of this woman, is something now that would for sure be out of balance. And there's a lot of debate over whether the people on the inside is liberal women activists supporters overlooked it because they put politics first. I mean, I don't know.

Patrick Miller: Well, there've been very credible accusations that Hillary Clinton actively tried to cover up these events.

Keith Simon: I know she called it a vast right wing conspiracy. But the point is that evangelicals from Dobson, to Falwell, to Al Mohler, they all universally and uniformly condemned Clintons character and said, " Hey, we're going to corrupt our children." And this is horrible for the presidency. Character matters, it's of ultimate importance until President Trump runs against the people that evangelicals didn't like at all. And that was Hillary Clinton. And so when those to square off in the general election, all of a sudden, those same evangelicals that condemned Clinton, for his character issues overlook the same character issues about how men treat women, when it came to Trump, and they made excuses. We're electing a president, not a pastor. This was locker room talk. We've got to get Supreme Court judges on the court.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And again, this creates major fault lines. You have evangelicals who say, " I will have nothing to do with Donald Trump because of his character issues. And those who, like he said, defend him and say, " No, we want the president, not the pastor. No, maybe we had it wrong back then. What matters are this guy's policies." And you see evangelicals dividing on both sides, both in 2016 and in 2020.

Keith Simon: And it calls into to question whether evangelicals really were concerned to ever about character or if they just wanted power. And using character against Clinton gave them power. And overlooking character when it came to Trump gave them power. But clearly what happened somewhere in there is that they put on the lens of political power instead of the lens of Jesus.

Patrick Miller: And just to add to that, it's not just character, it's how we see and view and treat women. If we want to be on the side of we're against abuse, we are for women being treated with honor and dignity.

Keith Simon: In other words, if we want to be on Jesus's side.

Patrick Miller: I we want to be on Jesus's side, then we might ask some serious questions about Bill Clinton. And we might ask some serious questions about a thrice divorced man who talked about using his celebrity to take advantage of women sexually, grabbing them in places where they did not want to be grabbed, who had sex with a porn star while his wife, who's now the first lady, was pregnant, and he had to settle it. I mean, really.

Keith Simon: You just have to be consistent. Put on your Jesus glasses, love Jesus, follow him, and care about your witness more than you care about winning an election.

Patrick Miller: Okay, so we've looked at women and abuse. Let's get one more area that's causing fault lines, which is sex, sexuality, and gender. So again, we've been tracing this theme all the way back from the 50s to the present, you can think about the pill or no- fault divorce but our relationship as a culture with sex has gone through dramatic changes in the last half century. You already said this Keith, but we have unhitched sex from child rearing. Used to be, had sex, there's a good chance you're going to get pregnant and now all of a sudden, that's pulled apart. We've also made it much easier to have divorce which means that you have more children in single- parent households

Keith Simon: Unhitched marriage from sex and sex from children. And that's the way God designed it, that those two go together.

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Keith Simon: And when you take those things apart, welcome to the Thunderdome. Welcome to chaos. Welcome to a lot of people being heard. Welcome to a lot of abuse. Just Welcome to a world that you're not going to want.

Patrick Miller: Welcome to Me Too. I mean, that's the chicken coming to roost. Here's the deal, during this period, people start thinking about sex differently. Sex is about pleasure, it's about personal self expression. Our sexual ethic gets watered down to what, I can only describe as the least common denominator of ethics, which is if it doesn't hurt anyone else, then it's okay. If that's how you think, I'm just going to say this, you have to think harder. That is a terrible ethic to live by. I mean, it's not a bad thing to do. But it's a minimum thing. And that's how we start thinking about sex. And during the Clinton years, it's really interesting because the culture remains relatively conservative on certain sexual issues. In particular, the what we'd call now LGBT issues. Clinton actually is the one who signed into law, DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.

Keith Simon: Yeah. He signed into law that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. And that is what is declared unconstitutional during Obama's administration in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. So the Clinton years, everyone is for traditional marriage. By the Obama years, there's a large part of our country who has shifted on that position. And not only have they shifted on the view of marriage, but they've also shifted on their view of religious liberty. It's not just that we're going to have same sex people who are married and get certain legal protections, but now we're going to make you be okay with that. We're going to make you, if you bake a cake, for example, in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, we're going to make you make cakes that are against your conscience to serve two people at a same sex wedding. So there is quite a cultural revolution that takes place. And it all happens really quick, because Obama runs in 2008 on traditional marriage.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, he wasn't for gay marriage.

Keith Simon: And by 2012, he is given a full throated endorsement.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, I mean, it's actually wild, when we start thinking about it. If you go back to 1960. Just I mean, that's not that long ago. But if you go back to 1960, homosexuality is viewed as a mental disorder and it's illegal.

Keith Simon: That's until the early 70s.

Patrick Miller: That's until the early 70s. But if you go back to 1960, alongside that, you don't have the pill, you don't have widespread use of contraception. So still, sex is tied to child rearing, to having children. You don't have no- fault divorce, so getting out of a marriage is actually challenging. And in that tiny period of time, we've gotten to a point where as a culture, we have a no holds barred sexual ethic, the minimum requirement is consent. That is where we're at as a culture right now. And I'm simply saying this to say, when those kinds of shifts happen, it's not shocking that there is resistance, that there's reaction. And to give people some grace, those reactions are rarely going to be the right reaction. You're trying to figure it out as you go along. And that's what you see inside of evangelicalism with things like purity culture.

Keith Simon: Yeah. So the evangelical response to this sexual revolution includes, it's not limited to but it includes purity culture, which essentially says that we must protect people's virginity, especially women's virginity at almost all costs. So you have the famous book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris in which he says, " Look, we've got to stop our dating culture, which prepares us for divorce, moving from one boyfriend or girlfriend to the next. And we've got to develop instead something called courtship." And courtship was designed to do in conjunction with family or friends. And I think a lot of that was trying to keep teenagers from being alone together so that they would have sex. And behind all this, was this sexual prosperity gospel that if you save yourself for marriage, then you will have the best sex possible. You have books that are developed, called every man's battle, in which lust is seen as only something that men struggle with. And women are seen as objects that we need to protect men from, because women will cause men to lust and go astray from God. But also we need to protect women from men who are just kind of these lustful creatures who are going around trying to take advantage of women. And so what happens is that we have this strict culture develop within evangelicalism where for example, when high school students go to camp, women have to wear one piece bathing suits, because we've got these lustful boys around who are looking to attack women. And we're trying to protect the boys from these lustful girls who are going to lead them astray from everything good and righteous.

Patrick Miller: I once heard a phrase at a camp that said, " We really have to make sure the kids don't go off into the woods to add to the preschool ministry." I thought that was hilarious.

Keith Simon: We don't have enough preschool workers, so we got to get the teenagers.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And of course, it was all about-

Keith Simon: crosstalk.

Patrick Miller: It was all about double standards as well, that while women had very strict regulations on what they could wear, men could walk around with their shirts off because of course, women have no struggles to speak of. It's not as though a man walking around with his shirt off could cause them any problems. So these are aspects of purity culture that we're describing. But there is a reaction to purity culture. It's a reaction that you see inside of, again, Mars Hill, churches like that, Mark Driscoll, and people influenced by him, who kind of react against purity cultures, sexual shaming, let's not talk about sex, sex is a dirty thing. And they go the almost opposite direction. They say, " No, the bible talks a lot about sex." On that point, they're correct. " And the Bible is pro sex." Again, I think on that point, they're also correct, but they become incredibly provocative about sex. Sex becomes a central part of the ministry. And you have people essentially suggesting that wives must give their husbands what they want sexually. Wives must constantly be available to their husbands sexually. And it sets up bad situations where men are able to control and command things from their wives that probably biblically speaking, we'd say, " Well, that's not really the right way to go about it."

Keith Simon: And that's all on the heterosexual front. So there's this whole other front that's developing under same- sex relationships and the fight for gay marriage. Now, Andrew Sullivan, who we've quoted before, smart thinker, he is one of the people who were writing in favor of same- sex marriage. He probably led, I think, the intellectual side of that revolution. He is an openly gay man. And in response to that, evangelicals developed ministries that would help people leave, what they would call the gay lifestyle. So this is ministries like Exodus International. They had, what now is really looked down upon, and that is conversion therapy, where a person said, " I have same- sex attraction." And they believed that through counsel that people could have opposite sex attraction, leave that same- sex attraction behind. And again, that is a controversial topic that we don't really want to go down here. All we're saying is that there became this fault line. How should Christians respond to the same- sex revolution? Some said, " Hey, you can be counseled out of it." Others like, a guy like West Hill, if you're familiar with him, he's a guy who says, " Well, I'm gay, but I want to follow Jesus and I, therefore am going to live a celibate lifestyle." Then you have some Christians within the evangelical movement. This is like the revoice movement who are saying, " Hey, it's okay. There's nothing wrong with having a gay orientation. You just can't act on it. You can't have gay sex." Then you have other people within the evangelical movement who are saying, " No, gays orientation is wrong. It's not just the act of having gay sex. To even have that orientation is wrong." And some are going so far as to say you can't even hold leadership positions within our church if you have a gay orientation.

Patrick Miller: So again, fracturing. You see all the different positions that people can take on this. Add to that, a growing evangelical movement, which was really started by a guy named Matthew Vines, that's arguing that actually we've just misunderstood what the Bible says about homosexuality, about gay identity. And he said, " Look, the Bible doesn't say anything about what we would call modern gay identity." People like David Gushee, who we interviewed last week, and I had a discussion with him about this topic. Take a very similar tack of saying, " Yes, the Bible has no problems, zero issues with gay marriage, gay sex, any of that." And so now you can see, I mean, think about this, the amount of different positions you can take on how we orient ourselves towards sex, within purity culture, outside of purity culture, how we think about homosexuality, LGBT issues, again, lots of different positions that people take. And these are all within the tent of evangelicalism, these fault lines are dividing. Some people are leaving the tent, other people are leaving their church, these are major issues. So now we can finally come up to the present moment, and I hope have some good lessons and takeaways that we can take from this entire three part series. Before we look at those, let's just try to name what's happened in the last I mean, honestly, two to three years.

Keith Simon: This is going to be traumatizing, I think.

Patrick Miller: It really is traumatizing.

Keith Simon: This list is crazy.

Patrick Miller: I mean, it's insane. But over these last few years, you obviously have the 2016 and 2020 election.

Keith Simon: That's traumatizing.

Patrick Miller: We have the growth of outrage on social media, which is making us more and more divided. I mean, many studies are showing that we are more tribal, more divided today than we were in any period in American history since the Civil War.

Keith Simon: The increase of anxiety, depression, psychotropic drugs-

Patrick Miller: It's quadrupled.

Keith Simon: Opioid addictions, the declining of life expectancy, especially among white men.

Patrick Miller: Well, and there's also a dramatic decline in birth rates in general in the country. We're seeing the rise of cancel culture, it really exists on both sides. We've had all of these cases of abuse and misogyny that have been unveiled both inside and outside the church. There's a worldwide pandemic that separates us and makes us again, like you said much more mentally unstable.

Keith Simon: The debate over police brutality, the George Floyd killing, and many more that are much more controversial as you look into the facts of each one individually, and what happened. And yet because everyone in our society is fracturing, all these killings are now put under a microscope and people don't tend to look at them as individual incidents, but they see patterns develop. And it's kind of a hard thing when you have some people yelling, " Defund the police," while others are saying, " I back the blue." It's a crazy world.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, we have increasing debates around systemic racism, around critical race theory, CRT. But by the way, a year ago, almost no one knew the phrase CRT. You and I were actually reading books well before that, leading up to it, so we were pretty familiar with it when it happened. But now it's become a lightning rod on both sides. Similarly, trans issues. Five years ago, this wasn't even on people's radar to talk about trans issues. But now again, it's been brought right front and center into our public discourse. And then obviously getting into more recent history. We have the election of Joe Biden, the Stop the Steal movement, climaxing in the January 6th riot at the capital, vaccines and anti- vaxxers, the what I would say increasingly draconian application of progressive ideology on the country. More and more, we seem to be saying the White House trying to tell everybody how to think. I mean, there's just all of these reactions happening.

Keith Simon: Can we just go on the vaccines for just a second and just rant how well the vaccines are being developed? President Biden and Vice President Harris said they were very wary. I mean, I don't know if we can put this in our body. This was developed under the Trump administration. And then they take the vaccine, they want everybody to take the vaccine, and now they're mandating everyone take the vaccine. Now, no one can be more pro- vaccination than me. I've been vaccinated. My family's all been vaccinated.

Patrick Miller: I get vaccinated once a week.

Keith Simon: I try to tell everybody to get vaccinated. Please get vaccinated. But just to see how much they've changed from, " Well, you can't trust this. This was developed under Trump," to a few months later, " You must get it or you can't have a job. You can't go to this sporting event." It just shows the fault lines, the fracturing and how much political ideology is driving us, how much we want to win it, how much we want to defeat the other side, how much we want to be in positions of power that we're willing to just say or do almost anything to get it.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And these issues, everything we just said have caused division within evangelicalism, they're all causing fractures. The vaccine is a great example. I know people who will not see family members who got the vaccine.

Keith Simon: Really?

Patrick Miller: Oh yeah. I've heard of people who are in small groups who will not go to their small group because they think there's people who've been vaccinated, and I guess if you're unvaccinated, you're afraid of catching a microchip. I'm not sure what it is, but there's fear-

Keith Simon: Have you seen the theme between Nicki Minaj in the White House?

Patrick Miller: It's pretty funny.

Keith Simon: I mean, and then Nicki Minaj and Joy Reid going at it.

Patrick Miller: It's pretty funny.

Keith Simon: Nicki Minaj, I think was kicked off Twitter.

Patrick Miller: She got kicked off Twitter. Yeah.

Keith Simon: I don't know, but it's pretty entertaining.

Patrick Miller: Well, that's a whole different thing. We were talking about cancel culture. Anyways, here's the deal. These huge issues that have all happened in relatively recent history that are dividing evangelicals. And so what are our lessons and our takeaways from this long three part series? I saw a meme recently, it was a picture of the OJ police chase, so OJ is driving his Bronco and you've got I think it's 15 police cars behind him, chasing him.

Keith Simon: I remember watching that. Remember exactly where I was. They're all chasing him down trying to catch him, the white Bronco it's going slow on the highway out in L.A.

Patrick Miller: It's going slow. It's so weird.

Keith Simon: I mean, it was crazy.

Patrick Miller: But the-

Keith Simon: Do you think he did it, by the way?

Patrick Miller: Yes, I do.

Keith Simon: Okay.

Patrick Miller: But what was funny about this meme is at the top of it said, " Pastors." And on OGs car it says, " Pastor." So OG is the pastor. And then on all the cop cars, it says, " Pandemic, vaccines, masks, CRT, election, canceled culture," all of these issues brought up, and the pastor's just trying to get away.

Keith Simon: That's exactly how I feel.

Patrick Miller: From the police officers.

Keith Simon: Everybody's chasing us, and we're just trying to survive.

Patrick Miller: But I don't think it's just pastors. I think that there are a lot of Christians who feel homeless right now. They feel like they're caught in a culture. We're living in the wreck of the culture war. They've put on their parachutes, and they parachuted into the middle of no man's land, and there's people on each side trying to shoot each other and kill each other. And then here's us in the middle, trying to follow Jesus faithfully, just getting mowed down, left and right, because we won't buy into their cultural political identity. We are constantly asking the question, " What does it look like to put Jesus first?"

Keith Simon: So there's a whole group of Christians out there who are sincere Christians, I'm not questioning their faith at all. But they have put the political identity of republicanism or political conservatism above Jesus. So they've put tribe over truth. And they've put specifically the conservative tribe. And oftentimes, these Christians are operating out of fear, like there's something, it was communism, and then it was the sexual revolution, and then it's CRT and racial stuff. And they've always got something that they're afraid of, they're reacting against. Or they're nostalgic. They're looking back for a time in American history when life was simpler, and God was more central. And on the other side, you've got kind of the Christians. Again, I'm not questioning their faith. But they've put the political identity of the left on, they've put the political left as their tribe above the truth.

Patrick Miller: Exactly. But on the left, the air isn't nostalgia. It might also be fear. I mean, fear seems to transcend absolutely everything. But it's not nostalgia, it's utopianism. And on one level, someone might think, " Well, what's the problem with utopianism? I mean, what's wrong with trying to make the world the ideal best place?" Well, the problem is that we have a history of utopianists, people who wanted to build utopia, and we know what they do, they often allow the ends to justify the means. That's why you have millions and millions of people die in the USSR and in the Chinese Communist Revolution. And we're seeing similar behavior on the left, where it doesn't matter what we do, it doesn't matter how violent our protests are, it doesn't matter how we try to squash debate or conversation, the ends ultimately justify the means. But perhaps more importantly, they're trying to bring God's kingdom on earth, without Jesus. They want all of the kingdom, they want, what it's like when God is present, but God isn't present in their activity.

Keith Simon: So look, we're not so naive as to think that if you just put Jesus first, if you just put truth over tribe, that somehow all these issues get solved. These are important debates to have. And everybody gets to bring their perspective to the table and we've got to think it through and argue it out and try to figure out what is best, what accomplishes God's justice. So we're not acting like there's some little pill we take and it all makes this go away, just take the Jesus But what we are saying is that the fracturing of the church is bad for Christians, it's bad for God's kingdom. It's bad for the reputation of Jesus. That what we have common in Jesus should be greater than what divides and separates us. And if we will put truth over tribe, if we will put Jesus first, then that means that we can have a common authority, the Bible, that we go to and try to use to figure things out, to figure out all these controversial issues. It means that we will hold our positions humbly, we will want to dialogue with people who disagree with us, we will be open to learning and changing our mind.

Keith Simon: you're making me think about Justin Giboney, who you interviewed who someone who's a registered Democrat, committed Democrat, and yet... What did he say to you? He said, " Look, I will critique both sides. When my party goes the wrong way, I am not afraid of saying something." That's truth over tribe. We're not asking people to leave behind their political party. I don't actually think that's our goal. Our goal is to say stop idolizing politics, because when we idolize politics, it causes these fractures that we cannot escape.

Keith Simon: And I think one thing I want to say is that when we put tribe over truth, then what happens is that the Church of Jesus Christ becomes another special interest group that can be manipulated by political parties. And when we put truth over tribe, when we put Jesus first, then we can be a prophetic voice speaking truth to power, bringing God's justice to this Earth, caring more about solutions than who gets credit for it, not trying to win an argument, but to try to maintain our witness before a watching world. So we're hoping that watching the rise of the religious right and then soon we'll have another conversation about the rise of the religious left, we're hoping that if you can see it in perspective, it will cause you to say, " I don't want to continue down that road. I want to start something new start, something fresh. I don't want to get sucked in to the political wars and the culture wars that Christians have in the past. I want to learn from their mistakes, and I don't want to repeat them." But if we don't know our history, if we don't know where we've come from, if we don't know how we got to this moment, then we can't learn and we're destined to repeat all those same mistakes.

Patrick Miller: Can I end with a quote from Wesley Ncube again? He said this, the sake realizing of politics, so he's saying, " Making politics sacred. The total identification of a political goal with the will of God always unleashed demonic powers." I think that is a really strong and healthy warning that we all need. When we leave behind Jesus for the religion of politics, when we start identifying Jesus's goals and Jesus's will with the will of my political party, the only thing that can happen after that is demonic. That's the ultimate end goal. And again, that's our hope. That people listening to this podcast would set aside that idolatry, that we wouldn't be pagans with Christian hobbies, but that we would be Christians who can speak truth to pagan powers, that we would be Christians who can speak truth to political parties. That's where we want you to be. That's where we want to go.

Keith Simon: When the Book of Acts says that the disciples turned the world upside down, I don't think that meant that they got the right candidates elected to all the positions in Rome. You know why I know that? Because Rome didn't have elections. Rome wasn't a democracy. Nero and all the other emperors maintained their power. They turned the world upside down, the church grew, the reputation of Christ grew, people came to faith, God's kingdom came in communities and in families, not by politics, but instead by the power of the gospel. So let's stay involved in politics. Let's use politics to bring justice where we can, but let's don't give our loyalty to politics.

Patrick Miller: Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review.

Keith Simon: And make sure it's at least five stars.

Patrick Miller: Stop. No, just be honest. Reviews help other people find us.

Keith Simon: Okay, okay. At the very least you can share today's episode, maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.

Patrick Miller: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter @ truthovertribe_, we might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.

DESCRIPTION

This week is the finale of our three-part series on the religious right! If you missed it, go back to parts one and two, where we cover the history of Christianity in politics and how evangelicalism has become a political term (at least in some cases). In this episode, we break down three issues that led to the splitting of evangelicalism: Race, women's rights, and sex. Listen now to learn more!