Karen Swallow Prior, Rick Pidcock, & the Dynamics of Conservative Evangelicalism
One of the best things about the little space you’ve created is that many of us who mostly swim against the current in local rivers can see how not alone we are.
This is a very apt description of undue influence, not to mention logical fallacies. In fact, one might use the ad hominem attacks as examples of logical fallacies.
Rick's BNG article was enlightening, and for me, hit a little too close to some wounds my wife and I have as well. I'll be 72 this month, and I've spent my whole ministry career in SBC life, both as a denominational leader, and as Pastor. We both started "deconstructing" some years back as a result of what we've observed "up close and personal", and have even been called some of the your own"favorite derogatory" names as a result of some social media posts I've made or shared. Anyway, we've been on our way out of the SBC for the last year or so, but this last Convention meeting sealed the deal with us. And reflecting on Rick's question of "could I have made a difference if I stayed, and stood up?, my guess is that the mess that would inevitably follow is one I'm really not interested in staying around to clean up. God bless you, Kristin! Your work is a blessing to so many!
Kristin, Thank you. My husband and I read "Jesus and John Wayne" a while ago and it provided much needed airing of such damaging background to the churches we have been in. We parted company with the last fellowship because they were running off the rails with the Trump non-election mess and sadly some are still clinging to the illusion of his 'winning the election'. Sigh.
I agree with Charles Meadows. It is helpful to know we who swim upstream against the current are not alone. Blessings.
This question of staying. First of all, there is no such thing at "Christian nationalism". There's Christian and then there's nationalism. Jesus identified WITH God. He spoke non violence. He didn't advocate any sort of violence physical OR verbal. He actually called speaking violence murder.
What does influence? It seems "pastors" can speak sermons that sound right, but it is a leap to live what Jesus says is required in the Sermon on the Mount. If they are addicted to power and celebrity, even a really minor celebrity, why stay? Jesus shakes the dust off his feet. He says things like "the gate is narrow".
But, also, why do we expect goodness here? I don't know what compelled you to write what you observed, but we certainly cannot expect goodness FROM evil. Evil can't see goodness.
I think we are called to speak, but not expect any change. The work or journey or challenge or assignment is to speak what you believe Jesus said. Which you have done. And you continue to do in a Christ like way. I am thrilled you don't take it personally. AND . . you do not stop speaking! He didn't build an army or a castle, he spoke to a relatively few and told them to go out and speak. Which you have done and done well. You are appreciated and give hope.
If we take God's commandments off the courthouse walls, if we take prayer out of daily life at school, if we elect people who do not believe Jesus is God how can we expect ways of being and law that is based on Christ teaching? All they can give is evil. They can't give goodness the do not have. There is power and money available in orgnizations called church. But those organizations can be from this evil because they do not want to make the leap from speaking to living. The gate is narrow.
Stay the course Kristin, stay the course. You give hope.
"The goal is not discussion or even debate, but destruction."- SO true.
And it doesn’t do squat. I had to chuckle when I read this sentence. I haven’t heard this phrase since I was in college in the 60’s
I have mentioned to you before that you do very important work and that you are incredible strong to withstand all the headwind. Jesus followed this path as well, and we all know how he had to suffer to speak the truth. I am currently reading Michael Coren "The Rebel Christ". Michael is also receiving incredible pushback, including losing all the various engagements he had as a conservative host. See: https://youtu.be/s7mvVVa3H3o
Thank you for writing this. While I know you’ve got tough skin and you’ve seen this abusive pattern from conservative Evangelical (mostly men) before, I’m still saddened. You are an acclaimed, popular, accomplished PhD in history. Despite the barbs, you responded gently, albeit with good data & explanations. I’ve heard the saying, “While you were playing chess, they were eating the checkers pieces that came with board on the other side.” Even though you don’t have to be kind, you are. I admire that. For my professional and personal career I’ve been the same. It’s usually been effective.
With the group of critics interacting with you, I’d start taking a more aggressive turn by now. For me with the theobros & the arrogant Evangelical leaders from the SBC, PCA, seminaries, and affiliated orgs, I’ve been taking a more direct and aggressive tact. I know I can “get away with it more easily as an outsider”. However, enough is enough. Infants, children, and adults are continuing to be abused in these spaces. I know it You know it. We all know it. The arrogant leaders know it and are playing “gotcha” with anyone who tells the truth.
My strategy is to hold their feet to the fire for their silence on the abuse and coverups. The 2nd strategy is to let them know the DOJ is monitoring the distraction campaigns. The 3rd strategy I am using is # tagging their tweets and replies. I’ve been using #Sodom when I see their deceitful hurtful arrogance ( the real story of S &G). #ShinyHappyPeople #UntiltheTruth #Hillsong when they try to equate sexual predation to LGBTQ or if they bash egalitarians and women in the pulpit. All 3 of these get them to stop. Some have blocked me. I still see screenshots, reply and attach # The next strategy I’m going to use is talking about their lawyers and legal teams. This is especially true with with the Daniels family (big guns literally) and other big donors that enable this abuse.
The infants, the kids, and the adults who have been victimized are too important to me. In the documentaries, I’ve seen too many dead and empty eyes in the interviews and just watching video of the kids and teenagers. It reminds me of the children left in the Romanian orphanages who were not adopted. The leaders in these “Christian” organizations literally have been stealing souls. The trauma is lifelong. They steal the souls in the name of God and call those of us who say “enough” hereticd. In my mind, I say “oh well”. The eyes of the infants, kids, and adults are too important. I don’t think Jesus came to watch the souls of children be damaged or destroyed. Matthew 16: 1-6 comes to mind each time. I don’t want a millstone around my neck when I know I could have done more.
“But what it does do is hold this behavior up for others to see. It’s no longer secret, no longer conducted behind closed doors or in email or group texts. It’s there for the whole world to see, and I think there’s something worthwhile about this exposure.” YES!!! This so very important!! God bless you.
IMHO shining the light on & in the darkness & exposing its toxic truths & falsehoods is the most important role of a prophet scholar as you are.
Never allow yourself to be silenced. Lean in. (Literally when needed.) Go low. (Lower your voice.) Go slow. Say what needs to be said.
Speak - Write the historical truths.
Strategic silence is ok - as in avoid sharing your prophetic pearls of wisdom with abject narcissistic self-interested men (“swine”).
Grace. Peace. Persist. Disrupt. Expose.
Reading your comments reminded me of an essay by Kent Fry in the Reformed Journal 2 days ago. Fry compares the slavery debates of the 19th century to the "debates" happening today regarding human sexuality in several denominations. The pro slavery folks gleaned a number of verses in the Bible to justify slavery, much as the anti-LGBTQ community uses snippets of the Bible to justify their position. I wonder what parallels there are (if any) between the vitriol, lies and hatred being directed at you and the points Fry brings up in his article?
I came across this little (pre) historical gem last night in my reading. I think this is what our toxic male leaders are afraid of.
“In most Neolithic villages, women were at their high moment in providing cultural, religious, and social leadership, since identity at this time was generally given in terms of matrilineal descent. Three of the great inventions on which the Neolithic village was founded, were most likely discovered by women: horticulture, pottery making and weaving. The domestication of animals might also be due to women providing the leftovers from their harvesting for the more responsive antecedents of domesticated, sheep, goats, cows and pigs. In the arts also, in decoration of pottery and clothing, design, and personal ornamentation, and all these aspects of human life, women were clearly present and in a primary role.”
Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p175, 1992.
I finally read your book... I was spurred to do so after reading Dr. Valerie Hobbs recent auto-ethnobiography.
Thank you for your careful and very compelling and relevant historical analysis. Having turned seventy this year, and been in 'evangelical' circles my whole life and in 'reformed' circles since I started in grad school, what you write resonates with the truth seen from my own framework of living. Not that 'my truth' is sufficient (or necessary) to validate such a carefully done and well referenced work, but my perspective from within the circles of evangelical, and reformed theology, do share the same witness.
The objectivity of your writing is admirable and serves well as an example I'd love to be able to follow as I work to address issues that seem to have much overlap with your focus.
I find your demeanor commendable. Thanks for sharing some of the perspective you've developed that allows you to exhibit such a healthy and meaningful response.
The last section (three paragraphs?) of your post touches on a subject near and dear to my heart. I phrase this interest, as academics do, in a question: "How can we 'activate the bystander'" so that the many who struggle with abuse, are helped, not demeaned, by modern 'reformed' 'evangelicals' ?
I have perspective on that issue from life as well as someone who chose NOT to be a bystander, and found the cost rather high...but that's not something to delve into in any depth in a comment.
Love to chat sometime...
I'm new to your substack, and have a couple other posts to comment on.
Since preaching from the passage a few weeks ago I can’t get Romans 4:15 (or its opening words at least) out of my mind. “For the law brings wrath...”. Being born and raised SBC and having escaped at the height of the fundamentalist takeover, that verse suddenly feels like so much of my life experience.
The lies and propaganda and bullying (and the silence of those witnessing) are the air we breathe at the moment. Thank you for sharing your experience and the articles by Pidcock and Prior. Today's Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/july-5-2023?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email
We want to be more vocal and visible by speaking out and standing alongside you and your courageous colleagues who continue to speak the truth no matter what. As Stan Mitchell would say if we aren’t getting hit by the same stones we aren’t standing close enough. We could use some type of training to be more effective in the 1:1 truthful conversations we need to have with those in our evangelical spheres. Many of us are figuring it out but we need to accelerate this process which is ultimately the only way to neutralize the power of the lies that hold so many of our friends and family members hostage. If we each influenced only 3 or 4 people the cowards and bullies that are attacking you and your truth-telling colleagues would soon be hiding in shame...