#1568 The Shifting Landscape of the Religion-Conservative-Political Complex (Transcript)

Air Date 6/25/2023

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the state of the religious right, as declining religiosity and the looming 2024 election puts strain on the movement.

Sources today include Straight White American Jesus, The Benjamin Dixon Show, The Holy Post, The Muckrake Political Podcast, The Damage Report, and the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, with additional members-only clips from Wisecrack and Sara Martin.

Trump Indicted, Robertson Dead, + Catholic Public Schools? - Straight White American Jesus - Air Date 6-9-23

BRADLEY ONISHI - HOST, STRAIGHT WHITE AMERICAN JESUS: So in 1979, the historian Rick Pearlstein points out that Robertson said this: "We have enough votes to run the country. When people say we've had enough, we're gonna take over." So this is right in the Jimmy Carter-Ronald Reagan horse race, presidential race. This is right in the time when the Moral Majority is gaining its theme. But you see the Christian nationalism, Dan? "We're going to take over. We have enough votes to run the country." Okay?

[00:01:00] Now what happens over the next couple years is Robertson and the religious right grow increasingly frustrated with Reagan, the man they'd worked so hard to get into the White House. So by 1988, Robertson launches his own bid for the presidency and he talks about this Christian Coalition and this idea that we don't need Ronald Reagan. One of us could be president. We could be the one sitting in the Oval Office, not them. Now that doesn't work out, but nonetheless he continues on with something that he'd been doing in the 1970s all the way through the 1980s, and all the way really until his death yesterday with a short retirement there. And that is the Christian Broadcasting Network.

So we have one thing in place already: the Christian nationalism and the desire to take over. The Christian Broadcasting Network is sometimes a joke today. People make fun of it, people make fun of the 700 Club, whatever. But y'all, this was revolutionary. The Christian Broadcasting Network provided -- we talk about media silos. [00:02:00] In the 1970s and 1980s, the Christian Broadcasting Network provided conservative evangelicals and Catholics a place to go to get all of their media without having to listen to anything secular. I mean, there are people who will write into us and say, yeah, I wasn't allowed to watch anything but CBN and maybe a few other religious videos or content.

So what it provides is this standalone bubble. This is before Fox News. This is before NewsMax. This is before YouTube and the Ben Shapiros and the Charlie Kirks. It provides the model, Dan, that says, look, engulf people's lives so thoroughly that they only get information and truth and fact from you. And that's what he did. That's what he provided.

So we have the Christian nationalism, we also have the media. Okay.

Now, he also did something that I think is important to point out. He's a Southern Baptist, Dan, but unlike Falwell, unlike Billy Graham, he was really into healing [00:03:00] and he was really into spiritual warfare. Right?

Pat Robertson is really before his time in some sense, in the regard that he's always talking about supernatural things happening. He's praying for these right miracles. He's predicting the rapture. He's talking about spiritual warfare and demons. This is much more in line with the Prosperity Gospel folks, the Jim Bakkers, than it is with that old guard kind of religious right Southern Baptist mainstay.

But Dan, what dominates Christian nationalism today? Well, spiritual warfare, the new Apostolic reformation, Sean Feucht, Lance Wallnau, talking about counties that are demon possessed. In many ways the spiritual warfare mindset, the apocalyptic expectation of Pat Robertson, is the world we live in now.

Okay. And so Christian nationalism, a media bubble that he creates, the spiritual warfare motifs, and what else? I'm gonna give you one more, [00:04:00] and that is a thoroughgoing hatred toward gay people, toward feminists, and towards many other minoritized groups. Our friend Chrissy Stroop chronicled some of these.

Before I get into them, I just wanna say, all of the attacks that we're seeing now on trans people, on queer folks. I mean, I got an email today that broke my heart from my hometown about somebody being slandered for being open about their support of Pride, that calling people pedophiles, calling people groomers. Pat Robertson was on that, folks, from the eighties and the nineties, and he never stopped. The thoroughgoing hatred of gay folks, of trans folks, of queer folks, a lot of this can be traced in some way to Pat Robertson. So let me give you some of his best hits. And these are coming from Chrissy Stroop, Dan, and then I'll throw it to you.

Robertson, in 1998, said this about Orlando's Pride Festival: "I would warn Orlando that your right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flag in God's face if [00:05:00] I were you." after September 11th, famously Jerry Falwell came on the 700 Club and Falwell said that 9/11 was the blame of secularists, humanists, abortionists, gay folks, lesbian folks, and so on. And Robertson agreed. His words exactly were: "I totally concur." He made homophobic insinuations about judges and their clerks. He talked about and agreed with the idea that homosexual people, that gay folks are preoccupied with sex and said things of that nature.

He was also deeply Islamophobic. He claimed that Islam is not a religion, it's a worldview or a political system. He says that "Islam is a violent and a political system. It's a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination."

What else did he do? Sorry, there's a lot here on my list. Here's his definition of feminism: "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist anti-family [00:06:00] political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians." Whew!

So Dan, feminism, not about equal rights, and it's about a lot more than I thought. I mean, this is not just about, hey, maybe get rid of that mediocre husband of yours over there and free yourself from patriarchy. This is about killing children, practicing witchcraft, destroying capitalism, and becoming lesbians. So, all righty.

He called non-Christians "termites who don't belong in government," and he said that those who are Christian are qualified to lead and those who aren't should not be in the government.

I could go on and on. He talked about gay men deliberately spreading HIV using rings that cut people. He also said that Haiti had a deal with the devil, and that after the 2010 earthquake, the reason for that was a curse tied to the malevolent spiritual forces that were present in that region.

Here's the point, Dan, is [00:07:00] some of that just is so laughable and ridiculous, but it's so, so, so hateful. It's easy to say, Pat Robertson, you are irrelevant by the time he died. Maybe that's true. But I'm telling you right now, folks, you don't have the climate we live in now with the spiritual warfare, the labeling of people "demons," the transphobia, the queerphobia, and so on and so forth without Pat Robertson.

And so, thoughts on this one, Dan?

DANIEL MILLER - HOST, STRAIGHT WHITE AMERICAN JESUS: Yeah. So. I agree with everything that you just said. I concur. Isn't that what Robertson said? If people were to look at -- I know you've talked about this, a lot of good resources talk about this -- but if people look at the emergence of evangelicalism, like after World War II, when you had fundamentalists who culturally withdraw, and you had this younger generation of -- at the time they were called neo evangelicals -- who wanted to re-engage culture and so forth. And that's the roots of contemporary evangelicalism. One of the defining features of it was they used popular media. They used mass media. It was radio, it was [00:08:00] pamphlets. They started their own publishing houses. They did these kinds of things, and they laid the groundwork for what emerges as an evangelical subculture where it is possible to exist completely within that subculture -- as a sociologist might say, from cradle to grave -- and never have to engage with "secular culture" at all.

You can go to Christian schools, you can read Christian books, you can listen to Christian music, you can -- what? You can watch Christian TV. And the 700 Club was pioneering in that. And I remember, I grew up in a place where I'd go to certain friends' houses and the TV was on during the daytime, and guess what it was, it was the 700 Club, just there in the background, putting out these same ideas, as you say, that are very, very mainstream now. They're just louder in some ways, but they're no, honestly in my view, no more vitriolic than they were then, just in the background. It was just part of the ether that millions of American Christians were [00:09:00] hearing.

The Power Christian Nationalists Seek | The Evil Ignorance of Marjorie Taylor Greene - The Benjamin Dixon Show - Air Date 4-27-23

BENJAMIN DIXON - HOST, THE BENJAMIN DIXON SHOW: Christian Nationalism is on the rise, again, particularly the conversation, the national discourse. Conservatives are trying to insert the phrase, the branding, the identity of Christian nationalism back into the national discourse. Now, Marjorie Taylor Greene messed up months ago, almost I guess probably a year ago, and said that the entire nation should be a Christian nationalist nation. And that set off the red flags for everyone pushing that word and that phrase back into the dregs of society from which it came. I say this proudly as a Christian: Christian nationalism is the religion of White supremacy. It is exactly how you had everything that happened to Black people in this country, whether it be slavery or Jim Crow. The reality that these individuals, Christian nationalists, were the people that Black people had to fight against to get every single liberty that we have in this country. In fact, every [00:10:00] person under the sound of my voice who enjoys a freedom that is not a straight White Christian man, you literally had to fight against Christian nationalists to get that freedom.

I wanna go one step further. The very people who are promoting Christian nationalism today, they are in some cases the biological descendants, but in every case, the philosophical descendant, of the very people who would lynch us Black folks on Sunday morning before, during, or after their church services, doing it in the name of the Lord.

So, let's be clear: the legacy and the purpose of Christian nationalism is a far right-wing extremist White supremacist ideology that seeks to gain political power and gets to hide underneath the very gentle appeal of a Hillsong-styled worship service, where they'll cry out to the Lord - Lord, Lord, we love you - and [00:11:00] simultaneously do their very best to make sure that your rights are not only infringed upon, but that they get enough political power to punish you with the force of law if they don't approve of your lifestyle. That is what Christian nationalism is, and that's what's on the rise in this country.

I generally use the phrase theocratic fascism because Christian nationalism is a form of theocratic fascism. I wanna play a clip for you of one praise leader, or I guess maybe he's a preacher, Stephen [sic] Feucht. I can't pronounce his last name. Immaterial. What's material is what he says. The agenda of Christian nationalists is to gain political power to dominate not only the United States of America, but the world, and I'm sounding the alarm as hard as I can as a Christian, as a man of faith, because we need to clearly understand [00:12:00] that not only is Christian nationalism a threat to every single person who doesn't want to live their life as a Christian. Which is your right, it's your freedom, every person who does not want to conform to the rules and the mandates of Christian nationalism or Christianity, generally speaking, but it's a threat to all of us. Even those of us who are Christians, it's especially a threat to Black Christians because, as I have stated already, Black Christians had to fight like Hell, pun intended, against these White nationalist Christian devils to get every single freedom that we have. And now we find ourself back at a stage of American history where the very vultures and culprits, the very insidious ideology that was the bane of our existence, that we had to fight against to get every single liberty, it's all the rave [sic] now. Why? Because we are [00:13:00] living in the Renaissance of White supremacy, the resurgence of White Christian nationalism. It's all the rave [sic] because they understand, the way they can maintain political power is by using religion as a bludgeoning tool, because you can always cut on that bigoted gene that's inside of, quite frankly, every single one of us, if we're not careful. But White Christian nationalists in particular understand the masterful art of using religion to incite violence, as well as to gain political power. Listen to this clip as they make it clear their goal is to dominate society for and with and through Christian nationalism.

SEAN FEUCHT: It's all part of the King coming back. That's what we're practicing for. That's why, that's why Hell hates it, that we're worshiping at every capitol across America. That's why we get called, Well, you're a Christian nationalist. You want the kingdom to be the government. Yes. [00:14:00] You want God to come and overtake the government. Yes. You want Christians to be the only ones that... Yes, we do. We wouldn't be a disciple of Jesus if we didn't believe that. We want God to be in control of everything. We want believers to be the ones writing the laws. Yes, guilty as charged. I mean, it's funny when I meet Christians where I'm like, I don't really, I'm not really, I'm like, have you read the Great Commission? Like, this is actually what we want. Guilty.

BENJAMIN DIXON - HOST, THE BENJAMIN DIXON SHOW: Now he's clearly misrepresenting the Great Commission, "go ye therefore unto all nations and preach the gospel". It didn't say "go ye therefore unto all nations and overthrow democracy for the sake of your political ideology that you merely wrap in the veneer of Christianity". Your real ideology is Christian nationalism, theocratic fascism, authoritarianism. Okay. The Bible never told us to go... see, this is not too far [00:15:00] removed from George W. Bush spreading democracy with our military. Right? The desire to go and overthrow, this is not too far removed from the Crusades. The inquisitions. This is, again, they are in lockstep. The philosophical ideology has been passed down pure. It's pure. The only difference is it's a lot easier for them to get away with it now because they do it before and during and after a nice praise and worship song that a lot of Christians and even Black Christians fall for. But at the end of the day, it is a political agenda that is designed specifically to obtain and maintain political and economic power, period, full stop. That's what they want. It is power for the sake of power. For so many of them, they don't really honestly and earnestly care.

See these evangelicals, these White evangelicals, who have gotten in bed with the Republican party machine, now they genuinely [00:16:00] believe their delusions that they are serving the true and living God by and through their hatred and their desire to dominate society and their desire to make sure that anyone who's gay, lesbian, or transgender, that you go and hide in the closets, or that you go and be forced to transition, uh, uh, conversion therapy. This is what they genuinely believe. But not the political party that they're aligned with. The political party that they aligned with, they don't care what you believe. The Republican party doesn't give a damn about whether or not you genuinely believe in Christ, right? They want power.

And then of course, the rich, the oligarchs that are behind all of it, they certainly, they certainly don't even probably consider themselves to be Christian, but they understand how to leverage the language of Christianity and how to weaponize the boots on the ground that are all of these zealotrous religious fanatics who cannot live in a society, they just simply [00:17:00] cannot live in a society where someone that they disapprove of has as many rights as they have. That, to them, is Hell on earth and they want now to bring their version, their specific interpretation of Christianity that has not been healthy for anyone except for rich White men, I mean, it's not even healthy for the White women who push it and promote it, it's certainly not healthy for their White children who have to endure it and grow up through it, but it is certainly effective at replicating itself from generation to generation. An ideology, a religion, based in rooted in White supremacy that is laundered through society, through the innocuous sounds of Hillsong-styled praise and worship. But when they get done singing their melodious songs, they are spreading an ideology of hate. A political agenda of hate all wrapped in the veneer of Christianity.

How Rapture Theology Shaped America - The Holy Post - Air Date 5-10-23

PHIL VISCHER - HOST, HOLY POST: There's an interview on Newsmax, far-right network, it was a conversation [00:18:00] about Tucker Carlson with Tony Perkins. If you don't know who Tony Perkins is, he's the president of the Family Research Council. He, launched that with James Dobson as a part of Focus on the Family's political outreach group. So this is very, very early on, an influential religious right organization, and it then became independent of Focus on the Family, and he's been running it ever since. So it was, I don't know, 30 years he's been running this organization.

So he was also the guy that when asked, representing conservative Christianity, when asked, doesn't Jesus say we need to turn the other cheek, as opposed to being a fighter like Donald Trump? And Tony Perkins said, we only have two cheeks. That was his quote. So at some point, Christians have to stop doing what Jesus asked us to do and start swinging.

SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: A deep theological insight and I'm sure very much what Jesus intended.

PHIL VISCHER - HOST, HOLY POST: Profound, profound. And as this week's news of the butt, we would like to inform Tony Perkins that no, we have four cheeks, Tony, four cheeks, [00:19:00] so you can forgive your enemies at least two more times before you go nuclear.

Tucker Carlson, according to Tony Perkins, he disagreed with Fox News's decision to fire Carlson and also went on to attack Fox's decision to fire Bill O'Reilly, who said this was evidence that Fox was turning its back on its conservative viewers, including its Christian conservative viewers. What he failed to discuss at all, as David French brings up, was any mention of the profound moral failings that cost O'Reilly his job and required the Fox Network to settle various sexual harassment lawsuits for a total of $45 million, or any mention of Carlson's own serious problems, including his serial dishonesty, his violent racism, and his gross personal insult directed at Senior Fox Executives. Lance Wallnau, our buddy the freelance prophet, continued that Tucker Carlson was "a casualty of war with the left, a serious setback for Christian Republicans." Wallnau continued to say, "Carlson was a secular prophet, somebody [00:20:00] used by God who was more powerful than a lot of preachers."

So, what French is pointing out that these temptations, including the will to power and the quest for vengeance that plagued christians in the past where we saw things like, oh, I don't know, crusades and witch trials and inquisitions, like, whatever Christians got a lot of power, suddenly it can kind of warp your morality, and what you want to do to keep power, that we're seeing those same things play out today, and that more and more the Christian right, it seems to be latching onto cruel men. And French said, "the more the Christian right latches onto cruel men, the more difficult it becomes to argue that the cruelty is a bug, not a feature. The great tragedy in that moment of dangerous national polarization is exactly what a truly Christian message that would help, that combines a pursuit of justice with kindness and humility, which would be a balm to the national soul. And instead,[00:21:00] Christians on the right are jumping into the cruel stuff."

And then this was, I think, the best quote that I grabbed from from French's article. He says, "This is how the religious right becomes post-Christian. Its secular prophets become even more influential than its Christian leaders, and it actively discards clear biblical commands for what it perceives to be the greater good."

SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: So that's the part I wanted to latch onto also, Phil, because David French seems to be saying this is what will lead the Christian right to becoming post-Christian. And I wanna go like, well, what makes them Christian now? Aren't they already post-Christian? I mean, when you've abandoned the central teachings of Jesus, it sounds like there ain't a whole lot there.

PHIL VISCHER - HOST, HOLY POST: They're in danger of leaving Christianity.

SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: I'm getting annoyed throughout the media as I keep hearing religious right or Christian right or even evangelical, I'm like, there's nothing Christian about this. This is anti conservative Christianity. This is anti-religious right. This [00:22:00] is fear of evangelicalism, as I've called it in times past. This is not Christianity. It has nothing in resemblance to Jesus. So, I think that ship has sailed.


CHRISTIAN TAYLOR: In a sense it's old news. I mean, we were saying this, I don't know, five years ago or more.

PHIL VISCHER - HOST, HOLY POST: I think what he brings up, although he's writing to the New York Times reader, which I obviously hasn't been listening to the Holy Post for 12 years, hearing us talk about this over and over again.

But I think the point that he brings up, which is -- and maybe Trump is really the symbol of this, but we also see in Tucker Carlson -- is the elevation of secular cruel men over Christian thoughtful voices. That we don't have patience for Max Lucado, 'cause he's too kindly. We want Donald Trump.

SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: But that's exactly the point, is we don't -- I shouldn't say we -- they don't want Jesus. What they want is power. What they want is a sense of [00:23:00] safety over the fears they have over their demonic enemies, the Democrats, and whoever will provide them that power and that control over their environment in the country, whatever, that's what they'll bend the knee to. They don't want Jesus. That's why they reject the leadership that looks like Jesus. They want a bully. And they will embrace and celebrate those who are bullies.

CHRISTIAN TAYLOR: Newsflash. This was like that in 1980. This was like this during the Civil War. We as Christians want power because we feel like we want to change the world, make it the way we view it should be, through Christian eyes. And it just seems to be getting worse. But I don't necessarily know that it is. We seem to be getting post-Christian, but I don't necessarily know that it is. Yeah. I mean, look, think back to the Crusades. This is kind of the same story, 5,000,000th verse.

SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: That's a good point.

PHIL VISCHER - HOST, HOLY POST: Yeah, but we're America, we're better than that. We left Europe because of all the nuttiness when you have state churches. That's why we left Europe to [00:24:00] come here so we could practice our religion.

CHRISTIAN TAYLOR: So we want a state church so we could get our religion.

PHIL VISCHER - HOST, HOLY POST: Some of us, definitely.

SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: I think what's different -- your point's a really good one, Christian. The difference is when I look back at Ronald Reagan or even George W. Bush, the two most recent Republican presidents who actually won a majority of the vote. They clearly were communicating to their conservative Christian constituents that if you elect me, you'll have power, you will have domination over the courts and the government and the society and the culture and all that. They were saying that. But they were also saying it in a really kind, winsome way, right? There was a "compassionate conservatism" is what W always used to say. And Reagan had that charming, Gipperesque kind of thing. And that facade is now gone and it's --

CHRISTIAN TAYLOR: Well, it could be argued they were wolves in sheep's clothing.

SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: Well, that's why I'm saying it's a facade, right? It was at least you keep up the pretenses of civility and kindness and soft-spokenness and kindness and goodness and all this things. Whether it was genuine or not, I'm not here to judge. But what's [00:25:00] clearly gone is now we just want the wolf, right?


SKYE JETHANI - HOST, HOLY POST: And there's no sheep's clothing at all. We want fangs out, angry, malicious, nasty, stick it to 'em kind of rhetoric, whether from our talking heads on cable news or in our political offices. That's what I think's changed. It's we don't care anymore about the duplicity. Yeah, it's just out in the open.

Trump Taps Into Evangelical Fascism To Hypnotize His Followers - The Muckrake Political Podcast - Air Date 9-20-22

JARED YATES SEXTON - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: My social feeds lit up as everybody and their grandmother sent me a link to this footage from a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, where Donald Trump was in town to support JD Vance, who by the way, Nick, one of the worst senatorial candidates ever. Just a sinking stone that does us all a favor by disappearing. But this clip that we're getting ready to listen to, see if you can figure out at home what's occurring here and where we might be going.

DONALD TRUMP: But now, we are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation. [00:26:00] We are a nation that has the highest inflation in 50 years, and where the stock market finished the worst first half of the year since 1872. Likewise, we are a nation that has the highest energy cost in its history. We are no longer energy independent or energy dominant as we were just two short years ago. We are a nation that is begging Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and many others for oil. Please, please help us, Joe Biden says. Yet we have more liquid gold right under our feet than any other country. We are a nation that is consumed by the Radical Left's Green New Deal. Yet everyone knows that the Green New Deal will lead to our destruction.

JARED YATES SEXTON - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: It will just lay waste to the entire country, Nick, if the [00:27:00] Green New Deal, which isn't even on the legislative agenda, it would just absolutely destroy the country.

NICK HAUSELMAN - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: Buildings crumbling in front of us. Yes,

JARED YATES SEXTON - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: Cats, dogs living together, mass hysteria. Nick, I know my background and I want to go ahead and give people insight into what happened here and how bizarre this is. What was your first reaction when you saw this?

NICK HAUSELMAN - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: Icky, ickiness uncomfortable. I'm not a Catholic, I'm not Christian, but I did go to church once when I was six with my best friend who took me after I slept over at his house. And in the beginning it's weird. It's not quite like Damien going to the church at Omen One. But it's just very strange. And the music was very effective and it's without question completely referencing your typical religious thing, right? They have music now, and they pump it in like that, in these evangelical places.

JARED YATES SEXTON - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: Yeah, so immediately I was taken back to many a church service in which I was emotionally manipulated by charismatic preachers. This is an[00:28:00] old trick of evangelist and televangelist alike to pipe in dramatic music. And we'll talk about the origins of the song in a second. But, this is very specifically targeting the idea that Trump is somehow or another an evangelical divine agent, whether he is a preacher, a prophet, you name it.

Nick, we saw a bunch of people who still don't understand exactly what Christian nationalism is and what its roots are. They didn't grow up in evangelical circles that I did. They started talking about this being a fascist salute as the people put their hands up in the air. No, this was worship. This was literally worshiping and feeling the " spirit of the divine" entering them. It hit every chord of the framework of that underlying programming that evangelicals have. It was as obvious as the day is long.

NICK HAUSELMAN - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: Let's just, for the people listening, make sure they understand exactly what this looked like because not everybody, but a lot of the crowd in this rally -- we'll have to talk about another rally later -- but had their hands [00:29:00] up at a 45 degree angle with a finger pointing straight up, and I'm assuming that is America First? As what they're looking for?

JARED YATES SEXTON - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: It's America First, but also appealing through the "divine Spirit," to the Holy Ghost, if you will.

NICK HAUSELMAN - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: You know that a real good finger point, just like you do to your buddy after he makes a basket, right? You gotta, but you point it to God for him, give him credit. But there is no mistaking even still. And by the way, you'd ask anybody doing that symbol and they're not going to even entertain the notion that it has any kind of fascistic symbolism to it. But it's, without question it was frightening.

JARED YATES SEXTON - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: Yeah. And to make this very obvious point that isn't so obvious to American audience sometimes, the fascistic underpinnings of those movements, whether it's fascism, whether it's Nazism, they were built on Christian worship. In Italy, it was the Catholic church. In Germany, it was the Christian church. And what these authoritarian movements always do is they find a way to jack themselves into the religious movement in order to gain power and purchase among the masses. [00:30:00]

This right here -- and the reason it felt so icky, Nick, is because you saw this and you recognize there's a weird power happening here, there's a weird community here, there's something that is coagulating is what I will say. And you'll notice that this is a rapturous moment. And it's not like Donald Trump is talking about God. He's not talking about revival. What he's talking about is a political agenda. And you're watching that political agenda and Christianity, particularly Christian nationalism, start to merge on the public stage.

NICK HAUSELMAN - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: And that is the fascistic playbook as well, is to create a religious figure out of them who cannot be questioned. There's a famous quote that I think Groucho Marx originally said, which was I don't wanna be a member of any club that would have someone like me as a member. And it just feels when everybody is that dedicated and that Into what is basically turning into a cult, it doesn't feel comfortable to me. Now perhaps hanging out long enough in it -- and that maybe it's one or two or three [00:31:00] more rallies -- all of a sudden my arm goes up and I'm pointing to the sky too. I suppose that's how easy it can happen. And we've seen films and documentaries about how people can fall into these things so easily. And this is exactly what they're doing.

 It's really good to see Steven Miller is now graduated from overuse of alliteration. Because clearly Trump is reading the script that he wrote for him. And that's a problem. If he's gonna get better at the writing part, and then Trump's gonna get a little bit better at the reading part of it, then this is a problem.

JARED YATES SEXTON - HOST, MUCKRAKE POLITICAL PODCAST: Real fast, that would mean that Donald Trump would have to practice and put effort into something. So I don't know if that's gonna happen.

I will go ahead and say that power of suggestion, but also the power of pressure from around you. As a person who grew up in these circles, Nick, one moment you're sitting there watching everybody put their hands up in the air and worshiping and witnessing. The next thing you know, you might find yourself speaking in tongues because that's what's expected of you. You're supposed to feel the Holy Spirit into your body and change you. That's the type of stuff that I was privy to. That's the type of stuff that other evangelicals who came from those circles were privy to. And I have to [00:32:00] tell you, that the services back in the 1980s and 1990s, which we're gonna talk about with the satanic panic here in a second, they were always focused on political and cultural warfare, right? The idea was you may not have very much, you may not have much going on in your life -- in fact, God's probably testing you, like Job. But, the one thing that you can do, Nick, is you can take that suffering, you can go ahead and live through that suffering. And the best thing that you could possibly ever do is be a warrior in God's war.

And you'll notice this is again -- you brought up the idea of the cult. This Christian mindset, this evangelical right mindset, many people have come along and used it. And I'm not just talking about televangelists and Christian leaders, charlatans left and right, conmen left and right. It was waiting on someone like Donald Trump to come along and focus it. And I gotta tell you, man, Donald Trump, as his legal troubles get worse, and as the Republican [00:33:00] Party pushes him out, he's finding himself in a narrowing circle. And I don't know how many documentaries you've seen about your Jim Joneses or anybody like that. When the fuzz starts calling and when the pressure start growing and the cult starts to shrink, it actually grows more radical.

DeSantis Tries To Attack Trump on Abortion - The Damage Report - Air Date 6-19-23

RON DESANTIS: There've been a lot of Republicans through the years, you know, who've said they would do things, but when it really gets tough, you know, are you able to stand your ground and do it? You know, right to life. We were able to deliver the Heartbeat Bill, which was a big, big deal. And you know, while I appreciate what the former president has done in a variety of realms, he opposes that bill. He said it was " harsh" protect an unborn child when there's a detectable heartbeat.

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: So there's a lot that's dishonest there about what the Heartbeat Bill is, what it actually represents at six weeks. The electro, you know, the signal that is detected and called a heartbeat by the right. Whatever that, we've covered that before, but what is true there is that Donald [00:34:00] Trump is not necessarily as rabidly extreme on the topic of abortion as people like Ron DeSantis. He's still way outside of the mainstream compared to the American people, Donald Trump. But Ron DeSantis potentially has an in to attack Trump on this, and he's going to use it. He was already criticizing him there. There's gonna be a follow-up question from the other dude. The dude by the way, is part of the Christian Broadcasting Network, so Ron knows who he's talking to here, and here's how he responds to the follow up.

DAVID BRODY: You mentioned abortion. Do you feel the former president's going soft then on abortion a little bit, especially in this area that you mentioned earlier?

RON DESANTIS: Well, I think so. I mean, I was really surprised, cuz he's a Florida resident and I thought he would compliment the fact, you know, that we were able to do the Heartbeat Bill, which pro-lifers have wanted for a long time. He never complimented, never said anything about it. Then he was asked about it and he said it was "harsh", but you know, these are children with detectable heartbeats. And I think to do that was very humane. And I think it was something that every pro-lifer [00:35:00] appreciates, that we were able to get that done.

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: I'm sure some people who would call themselves pro-lifers probably do appreciate that. Of course, it does not have majority support. He knows that, and this is an interesting gamble. I think that this is the sort of area where Ron DeSantis has to try to make a policy-based play against Ron DeSantis [sic], but it's also, it's a little bit dangerous because I don't think that Donald Trump is or isn't in favor of, you know, a Heartbeat Bill or whatever. I don't think he cares really at all. I think the reason he wants to back off a little bit rhetorically is because he can read the room and he knows that running as rabid anti-abortion zealots is not a winning strategy electorally. But Ron DeSantis to be able to run the general election has to get through Trump first. So he might have to pitch himself as more of zealot on that topic to take out Trump, even if that would injure his chances of potentially making it past Biden or whoever afterward.

BRETT ERLICH: Uh, Ron DeSantis is like a rat in a maze who, like, is running [00:36:00] fast, but going toward a dead end in every, every move he makes. Like, he thinks this is such a winning argument. The moment he's on stage with Donald Trump, Donald Trump will say, What are you talking about? Because of my moves in the Supreme Court, we overturned Roe v. Wade. And DeSantis also has this thing where he is like, Oh my God, Florida resident Donald Trump is one of my babies who lives in my state. It's like he bought Mar-a-Lago in 1985 and has used the Mansion as a residence since before 1994. And do you think that he cares who the governor of that state is? He doesn't care. He just moved to Florida cuz that's what you do because of the weather. And he didn't like New York, which turned on him cuz he is a piece of crap and everybody else hated him. He was always a pariah. He was never really like embraced by the people Donald Trump thought he was like a representative of. He just moved to Florida. That's it. And you're, and he is talking about like the tax code in Florida. Like it's [00:37:00] all Ron DeSantis now. It's been that way a minute, dork.

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: A hundred percent. Yeah. Look, I guess I wanted to give Ron DeSantis some credit in that he has at least found a potential avenue of attack. But I agree, like, It's gonna be difficult. I just can't wait for them to be on the debate stage. And it pains me every time that I think that it is likely that I will be on leave the first time that it's gonna happen.

BRETT ERLICH: Just know, the things, like, if you're looking at what normally happens during a debate, just seeing two people on stage, the margin tightens undeniably. That's why most people try to dodge debates. Usually they tighten unless someone completely face plants. Just having a debate, when you're gauging expectations, which is mostly the game here, it's gonna tighten when they're next to each other on stage.

Americans Are Losing Their Religion. That's Changing Politics. - FiveThirtyEight Politics - Air Date 4-22-21

GALEN DRUKE - HOST, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT POLITICS PODCAST: How significant is religious identification for determining political behavior?

RYAN BURGE: That's obviously incredibly complicated, right? Because religion interacts with race, which interacts with age, which interacts with rural versus urban. What [00:38:00] we do know is that there's identifiable patterns in the American electorate when it comes to religion. In some ways, what we're seeing is political polarization is sort of leaked into religious polarization, and on one side we've got what my book's about, the Nones, which are growing rapidly, but also are becoming a more and more central part of the Democratic Party. The coalition that votes for Democrats is becoming a bigger share of Nones every single year. And on the other side, we've got Christians, especially White Christians, are a core part of the Republican Party.

Here's a couple stats. In 2018, 51% of Americans identified as White and Christian. It was 75% of Republicans are White and Christian, and 38% of Democrats are White and Christian. So what we're really seeing is we're seeing sort of this religious divide, leak into the political divide. Now, which one caused the other obviously is almost impossible to figure out, but it does seem like in America, more and more people are coming to understand, to be religious, especially to be White and religious, is to be a conservative or a [00:39:00] Republican, and to be religiously unaffiliated is to be a Democrat and a liberal.

GALEN DRUKE - HOST, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT POLITICS PODCAST: Yeah. Perry, you and Ryan recently wrote about this for the website and you spent a lot of time looking at surveys and talking to Americans. How do you conceptualize the role that religion plays in how Americans view politics in the world?

PERRY BACON JR,: I think Ryan said about a lot of what's happening. The key thing I would say is Black religious people tend to be very Democratic. So, the one thing that's very distinct is, as he said, among White people there tends to be more religiosity tends to go along with more conservatism. Among African-Americans that's not the same pattern. Latino patterns are a little bit more complicated. So, I wanna defer to Ryan. Talk about Latinos a little bit in those patterns.

RYAN BURGE: Yeah, so Latino Protestants in 2020 were 50/50, like literally split right down the middle. But Latino Catholics are a whole different story. They were 2-to-1 for Joe Biden in 2020, which tells you, you know, for them the type of Christian you are actually matters a lot because American Protestantism has sort of become [00:40:00] synonymous with American Evangelicalism, which is becoming more and more conservative as every year passes. But a lot of Hispanic Catholics come from a tradition that's more about liberation theology. Let's say, it has its roots in Central and South America where the church is socialist in some ways, and radical in some ways, to the left. And so those ideas sort of come into the American ethos, especially in predominantly Hispanic Catholic churches.

So, what we're seeing, really, is we're seeing a divide even amongst the Hispanic community between Protestants who are 50/50, but, if you look at just Hispanic Evangelicals, they're about 65/35, or so, with some third party voting in there. But overall, what we're seeing is the Catholic vote, Hispanic vote is going to the left, but we're also seeing the Hispanic Evangelical vote going to the right. So that's really an interesting community that's sort of fracturing, I think. But Perry's right about Black Protestants. I think one of the most interesting problems facing the modern Democratic Party is that it's becoming larger and larger the Nones, especially atheists and agnostics, who are incredibly liberal, incredibly [00:41:00] far to the left. But at the other side, one of the cores of the Democratic Party is Black Protestants, who a majority of them do not favor same-sex marriage and are not in favor of a lot of pro-choice programs. So how do you hold a coalition together when you have very far left Nones, but you also have a lot of pretty conservative Black Protestants at the same time? I think that's a problem for them going forward.

GALEN DRUKE - HOST, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT POLITICS PODCAST: So how would you describe the different religious groups in America, and perhaps by political identity?

RYAN BURGE: Really amongst Christians you've got your Evangelicals who are 80% Republican. They voted 80% for Donald Trump in 2020. But then you've got another group called Mainline Protestants, and Perry and I wrote about this in the piece, which I think they're such an interesting group because they are like the United Methodist Church, the Episcopalians, United Church of Christ. They're the kind of church that used to be the largest church in America. In the 1970s, 30% of all Americans were mainline Protestant. Today it's only 10%. So they're a group that traditionally was just slightly right of center, and today they're 50/50. They're [00:42:00] literally split in half. Some are Republicans and some are Democrats, but the kind of Republicans they are are not Evangelicals. They're more what I call country club Republicans, which means they want low taxes, cuz a lot of 'em have high educations and high incomes. So, they just want the government outta their lives, but they're cool with you smoking weed or you know, whoever you wanna marry or whatever. However, on economic issues, they want a small government.

Now Catholics are a really interesting story cause we just talked about White Catholics are trending to the Republican side, while Hispanic Catholics are trending to the other side. Yet the Catholic Church in America is becoming more racially diverse. Then you've got a whole bunch of smaller religious traditions like Hindu, Mormon, Buddhists, Muslim, that are actually trending toward the Republicans, but together they don't really make up that big of a share. And then obviously, we've got the Nones, which is what we just talked about, and the Nones are growing rapidly. They were 22% of the population in 2008, and they're 34% of the population today. Over 40% of millennials in Gen Z identify as religiously unaffiliated, and they're growing rapidly. So, [00:43:00] that is the growing religious electorate that we need to be thinking about going forward, is the Nones. They tend to vote. Atheist-agnostics are 75% for the Democrats.

The other group, which is really what the book's about, it's a group called Nothing in particular. They are not so liberal. They're actually in the middle of the political spectrum, but they make up 20% of all Americans. They're Black, they're White, they're young, they're old. They have a couple things in common, but the big thing they have in common is they have low income and low education, and I think they're actually the swing vote in the modern religious electorate. And the other groups are pretty much locked in. They're not switching over time. The Nothing in Particulars are where the election's gonna be won and lost in the future I think.

PERRY BACON JR,: This is zoning a little bit on what Ryan is getting at, is that maybe 10 or 15 years ago, if you talked about people who were non-religious, we were mostly thinking about White, educated, liberal people, but now we're talking about the people who say they are not affiliated with a religious denomination is a third of Americans. So that means you're getting beyond just White youngish liberals on the East Coast. There are more and more Black people, particularly younger Black people, more Latino people, particularly younger people, [00:44:00] older people who are Democrats or moving away from church. So what you're getting is like, once you do a third of America, you're hitting everybody to some extent. And what Ryan's book is really smart about and what I really learned from it is, as he said, is like, this no religious block is one third of people, but atheists and agnostics are distinct from people who just say "nothing in particular". Atheist and agnostics tend to have very defined views about religion. They sort of don't believe in it. There a little bit hostile to it. They are skeptical of it, and those people are very educated, more male, very, very Democratic. And then this, Nothing in Particular group, which is much bigger, atheists and agnostics are about 10% of Americans, this Nothing in Particular who's about 20% of Americans, and they're more like they don't go to church anymore. Maybe their parents did, but they're not gonna say, I'm an atheist. They don't have these strong disbeliefs either. So, they're not as educated, they're more racially diverse.

One thing we mentioned in the piece was the Black Lives Matter movement is not religious itself, and it didn't come from the Black church, [00:45:00] but Black non-religious people tend not to be atheist and agnostic. So it's Black, Nothing in Particular is someone who their parents went to church, their mother goes to church, so they're not anti-church. They're not just not in church themselves, and that's different than an agnostic or an atheist person who might be kind of wary of church itself and kind of wary of religion.

Is Religion Dead? - Wisecrack - Air Date 6-9-23

MICHAEL BURNS - HOST, WISECRACK: If you've ever heard the line, I think therefore I am. That's a classic Descartes bar, which argues that your existence is made certain via your ability to think rationally. Now, this might not sound super radical in 2023, but this had massive implications at the time, as your existence was no longer grounded in the divine, but rather in the capacity of human thought and reason.

And if you're in America, I guess it still does sound kind of radical in 2023. But I digress. Now, this insight is at the core of the Enlightenment where all types of artists and thinkers realized that humans might be all right and capable of doing some cool stuff without God. Now, what's maybe more interesting is that the same guy who put humans in the center of the philosophical [00:46:00] universe also spent a lot of time talking about God.

But not in a critical way, but rather than talk about the person of God, Decartes, who was a Catholic guy living in a very Catholic France, in a pretty Catholic Europe, was interested in the concept of God. Now, this is often referred to as the God of the philosophers. And basically this God is the biggest and most necessary thing that's at the foundation of everything else.

And this idea of God as a first principle was super crucial to enlightenment theories of science and morality. Descartes writes, there remains only the idea of God concerning, which we must consider. Whether it is something which cannot have proceeded from me, myself, by the name, God, I understand a substance that is infinite, eternal, immutable, independent, all knowing, all powerful, and by which I, myself and everything else.

If anything else does exist, have been created. Notice that he doesn't describe God in personified terms as monotheistic traditions usually [00:47:00] do, but rather points out what we could call the ontological conditions of the concept of God. While Descartes was a good little Catholic boy, his description of God epitomizes a deest view.

Which is the idea that God is a necessary perfect and supreme being. Deis Deemphasized, the view in which God is an actor in human events, which we see in everything from biblical accounts to Greek myths. I think if God was an actor, he would be Daniel Day Lewis.

DANIEL DAY LEWIS: It was Paul told me about you. He's to prophet.

He's the smart one. He knew what was there and he found me.

MICHAEL BURNS - HOST, WISECRACK: Who do you think God would be if God were to be an actor? Zakar argued for the existence of God, not on the grounds of existential or spiritual necessity, but on the grounds that he didn't think humans could have come up with this idea on their own.

He writes that Now all these characteristics are such that the more diligently I attend them, the less do they appear capable of proceeding from me alone. [00:48:00] Hence, From what has been already said, we must conclude that God necessarily exists. And just real quick sidebar, if you don't like that take, I'm looking to David Hume on religion.

I think you'll like what he says better. Um, he's an empiricist. Not a rationalist, but check him out. But we might still ask. Why does Irrationalist care so much about God? Well, because the existence of an infinite and primary thing, God guarantees that the world is intelligible and has some consistent foundation.

He concludes it is clear enough from this that he God cannot be a deceiver since it is manifest by the natural light that all fraud and deception depend on some defect. Descartes God has very little in common with the type of being that I don't know a modern evangelical might pray to, to help them stop touching themselves at night.

It's more like a foundational principle that grounds knowledge and scientific inquiry. And it's worth noting that Descartes and Kierkegaard are two sides of the philosophy of religion coin because while [00:49:00] Descartes turns, God into a holy logical category, Kierkegaard around 200 years later wants to turn God into a holy, illogical and existential category.

While Descartes wanted God to be the foundation for rational thinking, Kierkegaard wanted to make God more of an existential concept, which helps us live more so than think. But this all leaves us with the question of why taking religion seriously is valuable. For the rest of us, how can philosophy of religion be useful in a contemporary context where religion and specifically religion's influence on politics and culture is on the rise?

Well, this brings us back to Marx. While some might immediately think of Marx writing that religion is the opium of the people. And determine that he thinks religion is dumb. It's important to consider the full quote in context, and honestly, I think that that's probably the second most misquoted or misunderstood line in 19th century philosophy.

After Nietzsche's, God is dead, but I've talked about that in other videos, so you can go find that if you [00:50:00] want to. Right before the opium line Mark's writes, religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.

In this sense, religion isn't the problem. It's the conditions that necessitate religion that are the problem. Marx is saying that religion is necessary in a world where people are suffering and without hope. A world that seems to lack heart and soul, and if your life sucks, you might turn to religion to find reason to believe that eventually, maybe even after death, it might not suck.

He goes on to write the abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore an embryo.

The criticism of that veil of [00:51:00] tears, of which religion is the halo. Now, Marx isn't saying we need to abolish religion because it's dumb and bad, but rather that moving past religious happiness can allow us to establish a world that creates the conditions for a real happiness. If people turn to religion to find hope in a hopeless world, Marx thinks building a just world will remove the necessity for religion.

He's basically arguing that getting rid of the need for Pepto-Bismol isn't because Pepto-Bismol is bad.

COMMERCIAL: Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset, stomach, diarrhea. Yay, that so bit small.

MICHAEL BURNS - HOST, WISECRACK: But rather diarrhea is bad. And once we don't have the anymore, we don't need the Pepto. And in this sense, we can see some of Dakar's rational philosophy of religion because Marx is interested in analyzing what the concept of God means in a society at a given time.

But we also see some of Kierkegaard's existential philosophy of religion, and so much as faith comes from the [00:52:00] real suffering of specific individuals trying to make sense of existence. Now, while philosophers like Descartes might not seem to share Marx's radical aims, they were still worried about the political usage of religion and how it was affecting people's lives. This is why for them, deism, according to philosopher med Westfall can be called the religion of the Enlightenment. The horror of religious warfare and persecution hung heavy over European history, and when enlightenment thinkers did not espouse an entirely anti-religious materialism, they sought above all to define a religion that would foster moral unity rather than immoral hostility within and among human society.

In general, something we see in enlightenment thinkers, existentialist thinkers and the Marxist tradition is that a society's concept of God reveals something about what human beings in that society value. And while sometimes it's God, other times God can be replaced with another supreme or sacred thing like money, power, nationalism, or [00:53:00] consumer desire. And in this way, philosophy of religion is a useful tool to ask what does a society regard as a transcendent ultimate value? And on the flip side, if we lose the ability to do this type of analysis, it's easy for new transcendent and religious systems to pop up without us noticing.

As Theodore Zlokowski writes, in modes of faith, secular surrogates for lost religious belief, faith is of course not limited to religion to believe in something, a deity, a nation, a race, art, sex, money, sports teams appears to be a fundamental human need following all of this philosophy of religion isn't just about religion, i e, it's not just thinking philosophically about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, et cetera, rather thinking about religion is a way to understand anything which people treat religiously, whether it be sports, fandoms, political parties, Taylor Swift or traditional religion itself. If we dismiss the [00:54:00] philosophy of religion because it's like cool to be an atheist and stuff, then we risk losing the ability to do proper religious analysis. To once again, quote marks the foundation of irreligious criticism is man makes religion. Religion does not make man, which means that when we attempt to understand religion, it's not wasting time understanding flying spaghetti monsters.

It's actually doing a deeper analysis of human values.

How My Christian Faith Fell Apart | A Case Study of DECONSTRUCTION - Sara Martin - Air Date 8-26-20

SARA MARTIN - HOST, SARA MARTIN: For as long as I had been a Christian, I had been taught and fully believed that in order to be a real Christian, you needed to be a certain way. You needed to believe certain things. You needed to act certain ways, and you know, your relationship with Jesus needed to look a certain way, like it was very particular.

And if you didn't meet those criteria, You, you really weren't a real Christian. However, in meeting my husband who came from a Catholic background and later shifted to [00:55:00] Lutheranism, I started being exposed to other types of Christians that didn't necessarily fit the boxes that I had been told you needed to check.

And that was, that was really eye-opening for me. Christianity doesn't have to look a certain way, but. The evangelicalism that I had come from made it seem like you had to fit their definition or else you weren't really in the club. Another thing that really shifted for me in meeting my husband while we were dating, I was faced headfirst with reevaluating how, how I was gonna date, what our relationship was gonna look like.

Yeah, because I knew from my past relationship that there was a whole lot that didn't work out, and I did not want to repeat that again. I knew [00:56:00] dating needed to look different. I couldn't go through and live by the same rules that evangelical Christianity had taught me. And so it was while dating my husband that I really, really did some soul searching and reexamining what I believed about christianity and sexuality, what the Bible says about sexuality, what authority it should have, just all of those sorts of questions. I discovered that a lot of views that I had held before were unhealthy and pretty negative. Honestly. Moving on to stage eight, I was really. In the middle of intense deconstruction.

At this point, I no longer felt safe asking the sorts of questions that I had progressed to asking in my Christian Small group I was a part of. I felt like I was just thinking about things and [00:57:00] asking questions that almost felt too heretical to, to, to bring up to this group. And so thankfully I was able to find a life coach online that

became my new safe space to really start deconstructing, and it was in working with this life coach that I first heard the term deconstruction, I. And knew, wow, okay, this is, this is what I'm going through. There is a name for what I'm going through, and I'm not alone. I'm not crazy. There are other people who go through this and it's okay, like it's normal to go through this kind of stuff.

That was a huge, huge deal for me because one of the most healing things is just knowing that you're not alone. It was also in working with my life coach that I was able to actually start. Naming things that I no longer felt comfortable [00:58:00] believing about God, the Bible, just about my faith, and that was something entirely new for me.

I was able to work on things with my coach that I didn't feel safe discussing with my Christian friends and family members, and I was able to work with my coach in recognizing things from my past and things from my theology that. We were honestly pretty toxic to believe, and again, as all of these experience were, it was very eye-opening.

So stage nine of my deconstruction was finding new communities. I didn't feel comfortable going to church anymore. I really didn't feel safe talking with a lot of the Christians that I had known from church and from college, and really sharing like what was going on internally. I was afraid of being judged.

I was afraid of being abandoned. So apart from my life coach at that time, [00:59:00] and my, my husband to an extent, I felt very much alone, very much isolated. So finding these new communities online was incredible. I knew from working with my coach that I wasn't alone, but getting plugged into some of these.

Facebook groups, finding some of these Instagram accounts. Finding YouTube channels was so helpful for me. I finally had a space where other people were describing things like I had gone through and I was discovering a new language to describe this experience of deconstruction, and it was so. Affirming.

I could share my story and have people comment and say, I hear you. I see you. I am so sorry for what you've been through. I can relate again, just so healing and so refreshing. And it was through hearing a lot of these [01:00:00] stories from other people going through deconstruction, that I really started to see a lot of spiritual manipulation in my past.

Even spiritual trauma in my past and to be able to process that has been a really important step in finding resolution with, with my past. And so in moving through all of these different stages, I'm currently at a point where I no longer consider myself to be a Christian. And I hope in breaking down what it took to get from point A to this point.

That you can maybe start to see how it progressed, why it happened. Again, my story is just one example, but I hope that when you hear of other people who are no longer Christians, that you will remember maybe this video and just remind yourself, like, I may not understand [01:01:00] how they could walk away from their faith like that, but I do know that they're.

Is probably a story there that I don't know, and I hope my story also demonstrates that deconstruction isn't something that happens overnight for most people. I'd say it happens gradually over months, years, for some people, even decades. It's not just something where you wake up one morning and go, oh, you know, I really don't wanna follow Jesus anymore.

For me, it was a process of really four to five years. From, you know, being in college to, to working with my life coach and really getting a part of getting into these new online spaces of people who have left evangelicalism and are deconstructing. If there's anything I want to reiterate as I wrap up this video, it's that everyone has a story.

Everyone has a unique [01:02:00] journey that's taken them from. Whatever faith they started with to where they are now, and oftentimes it's not because we chose to go through this, it's just because what we believed stopped aligning with what we were experiencing and what our reality turned out to be. And so often people who deconstruct their faith are left with a choice between either pretending everything is okay and kind of living a lie or really delving into the tough questions and there's no guarantee of where you'll, you'll end up if when you go through that for some people do stay Christians and they come out stronger and better in their faith for it, and other people, you know, become agnostic or atheist or they don't know where they are and what they believe.

And that's really where I'm at. I don't have a specific [01:03:00] set of beliefs that I've come away with. I just know that I have been true to myself in the process and that's all I can ask for.

Final comments on the enduring support for Trump by the evangelical right

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with straight white American. Jesus discussing the legacy of Pat Robertson. The Benjamin Dixon show explained Christian nationalists. The Holy Post looked at the evolution of the Christian right. The Muck R political podcast highlighted a campaign speech from Trump last year that exemplifies the attempt to make him a Messiah figure.

The damage report discussed DeSantis attempt to criticize Trump from the right on abortion. And the 5 38 Politics Podcast looked at the declining religiosity in the US and the potential impacts on politics. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from Wisecrack getting more philosophical on the purpose of religion.

And Sarah Martin gave a talk explaining her journey as one of many people deconstructing their way out of Christianity. To hear that and have all of our bonus content [01:04:00] delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive. Sign up to support the show at Best of the Left dot-com slash support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.

Now to wrap up today, I just want to clarify that although there may be forces putting a strain on the religious right, as I described at the top of the show, It has evidently not been enough to shake their faith in Trump. On the anniversary of the overturning of Roe versus Wade, the Faith and Freedom Coalition held their road to majority conference where Trump was warmly welcomed.

And Chris Christie, just as a for instance, who had been mildly critical of Trump was booed, as we heard in the show today. As the population of a religious group declines, it begins to tend toward extremism. And the primary reason why the Evangelical right still supports Trump is because of his [01:05:00] combativeness.

There's also an appreciation for what they see as accomplishments during his presidency, but politics tends to have a, what have you done for me recently kind of mentality. And with Trump, the answer is, Fight with the left, and that's about it. The way one attendee of the conference who supports Trump put it.

The other candidates do not have the melons, let's say it that way, to represent us, to fight for us, to defend us against the machine. Now to be clear, most Christians tend to have a persecution complex. It's basically a core tenant of their faith to feel hard done by by the rest of society. But this still goes a long way toward explaining the enduring support for Trump by those who feel under siege, by the secular world.

And not just that, but who better to ask to look beyond an ever-growing indictment count than a group of people whose founding theology is based on wrongful persecution. That's gonna be it for today. As always, keep the comments [01:06:00] coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else.

You can leave a voicemail or send us a text message to 2 0 2 9 9 9 3 9 9 1 or simply email me to Jay. Best of a life dot-com. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist, Trio, Ken, Brian and La Wendy for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together.

Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and the bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com slash Support through our Patreon page or from right inside the Apple Podcast app membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and usually funny bonus episodes.

In addition to there being extra content, no ads and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player, [01:07:00] and you can continue the discussion by joining our Discord community. There's a link. To join in the show notes. So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC.

My name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly. Thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from best of left dot-com.

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