Right-wing evangelicals are the worst

Worst person in DC?  Okay, that’s Trump.  But, damn, is Scott Pruitt a close second.  The level of malfeasance and penny-ante corruption in a single person is pretty astounding.  How the hell does he still have a job?  Margaret Talbot suggests his Evangelical Christianity may, in part, be saving him:

One reason that Pruitt has managed to hang on this long is that some of the people he seems to have most impressed include the heads of polluting industries whose support helped bring Trump to power…

But there may be another secret to Pruitt’s tenacious grip on the agency that he’s busy undermining. Like several other members of the constantly churning Trump Administration who’ve managed to hold fast—Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and Vice-President Mike Pence—Pruitt is an evangelical Christian. This group attends a weekly Bible-study session for Cabinet members led by Ralph Drollinger, a seven-feet-one-inch former college-basketball player who is the founder and president of Capitol Ministries and the author of “Rebuilding America: The Biblical Blueprint.” Drollinger recently told an interviewer for the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that he offered his White House flock “the high-protein diet of the Word of God.” Speaking about Drollinger’s Bible study, Pruitt told Christian Broadcast Network News, in March, that “to be encouraged, to pray, to basically—each of us are dealing with large issues—and so to spend time with a friend, a colleague, a person who has a faith focus on how we do our job, whether it’s through prayer or through God’s Word, and to encourage one another in that regard is so, so important, and we have that in our Cabinet and it’s such a wonderful thing.”

And, oh, my, the stuff these guys say/believe to justify their anti-science (and I would argue, ultimately anti-Christian) take on climate change is something else.  Wow:

In an essay published on the Capitol Ministries Web site in April, Drollinger explains that accepting a human role in climate change and trying to do something about it poses a terrible moral danger: “To think that Man can alter the earth’s ecosystem—when God remains omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in the current affairs of mankind—is to more than subtly espouse an ultra-hubristic, secular worldview relative to the supremacy and importance of man.”

Drollinger warns that environmentalism has pretensions to replace Christianity and must be halted in its tracks: “In our lifetime there has been a radical shift in aggregate, national religious belief. In essence and unfortunately, America has been in the process of changing horses: from the religion of Christianity to one of Radical Environmentalism. We are in the process of exchanging the worship of the Creator for the worship of His creation. This is a huge and dire error, with extreme consequences, and it presages disaster.” And, when it comes to exploiting natural resources, Drollinger writes, “God is pleased when organic and inorganic substances, the lesser of creation, are utilized to benefit those uniquely created in His image.”…

Pruitt echoes much of this thinking—he speaks frequently about “stewardship” and “management” of the resources that “God has blessed us with” and clearly wants us to use, and of following the “Biblical world view” on environmental matters. He has expressed doubts about the human contribution to climate change, and, throughout his career, voiced alarm that the United States was keeping religion out of the public square. What may be the scariest thing of all about Pruitt’s tenure at the E.P.A. and the damage he can do to the environment is the righteousness he surely feels in doing it.

And, just before posting this, I came across a Slate article hitting similar themes:

Environmentalism and American evangelicals are like oil and water. Joel Hunter was one of a small number of high-profile leaders who worked, over decades, to try to mix the two. The effort has yielded minimal results: Just 20 percent of committed Christians consider themselves active participants in the environmental movement—a number that has barely moved for a quarter-century and represents less than half the proportion of environmentalists in the general population. The proportion of Christians who prioritize environmental concerns over energy production has dropped by about 20 percentage points in the last 25 years. And indications are that the more ardently Christian an American becomes, the less he or she cares about the environment. Evangelicals are the least environmentally inclined of committed U.S. Christians…

But there’s something that bothers me about the simplicity and convenience of explaining this all by the transitive logic of evangelicals are RepublicansRepublicans hate environmental regulationso evangelicals hate environmental regulation. It suggests that Christians are willing to cast off their moral obligations for political convenience. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe they don’t feel a moral obligation to protect Earth in the first place.

Um, yeah, it is true.  But not political “convenience,” political identity.  And safe to say we’ve reached the point where Republican political identity clearly trumps pretty much anything Jesus ever had to say.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

14 Responses to Right-wing evangelicals are the worst

  1. homeys44 says:

    Ugh, the Left and anti Christian bigotry. Its itching to burst out. Personally I’d prefer to debate policy and leave people’s religion out of it. Certainly wouldn’t label a major Christian group as “the worst”.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Hard to call myself “anti Christian” since I am a Christian. Also, I’d say bigotry is pre-judging whereas there’s plenty upon which to judge these so-called “Christians” negatively.

      • Nicole K. says:

        I’m also a christian and have parents, who are both ministers with MDiv degrees and who were very active in evangelical churches when I was a kid. I also did a semester at Asheville Christian Academy when we first moved to North Carolina.

        (My parents bought a house in the northern part of the county, and having grown up in the midwest, I couldn’t deal with the culture shock at the public school I would have had to attend. Smoking in bathrooms, “It’s not hate but heritage” T-shirts, among other things were just something I’d never had any experience with living in Omaha and outside of St. Louis and I decided putting up with Christian school where I could go to school with kids from Asheville was an exponentially better option. Thankfully, that only lasted a semester. I ended up with more discipline slips for insubordination that semester than about any other student in school history. I’m particularly proud of the defense of evolutionary theory that I wrote in my “science” class that got me a couple of weekends of landscaping school grounds as punishment. I was excited to go away to boarding school as quickly as I could.)

        So I am very aware that Republican politics is absolutely an intrinsic component in a significant number of evangelical churches. I’m glad that my parents have come to accept a much more generous orthodoxy that allows them to accept their transgender kid without hesitation and without any worries about the status of my soul.

        The most clear example of the way being a Republican has become part of being an Evangelical is comparing what Franklin Graham (the son of Billy Graham) wrote about Bill Clinton in 1998 and what he says about Donald Trump. It’s pretty amazing how different the reaction is to very similar conduct.


        It’s the same way that many Evangelicals can forgive pastors who have affairs, yet they can’t handle LGBT people even existing.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Didn’t God send Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for eating an apple from the Tree of Knowledge? If you are a Bible literalist, doesn’t that tell you something?
    That blew my mind when I was a child because my parents had the idea that knowledge was a really good thing and that being educated was a very good thing. I couldn’t believe that God wouldn’t agree.

  3. Jessy Smith says:

    There is no need to protect the environment if you believe the world is going to end and Jesus is going to transport you to heaven for eternal bliss, leaving everyone else to torture and death.

    But religion is good, right? Believing nonsense never leads to people believing other nonsense.

    BTW, I read the Catholic Church is increasing their number of exorcists. Apparently it’s a booming business.

    • Nicole K. says:

      People look to religions for various reasons. To boil it down to “nonsense and looking forward to going to heaven for a sense of immortal bliss” is a really unfair generalization. I am interested in Christianity for iit’s message of hope and love in this world. The primary benefit of my religion has nothing to do with what may or may not happen after I die.

      But from a less personal perspective, religions are a fundamental important part of what makes us human. This passage from the book “Sapiens” explains what religion has given to humanity:

      But fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively. We can weave common myths such as the biblical creation story, the Dreamtime myths of Aboriginal Australians, and the nationalist myths of modern states. Such myths give Sapiens the unprecedented ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers. Ants and bees can also work together in huge numbers, but they do so in a very rigid manner and only with close relatives. Wolves and chimpanzees cooperate far more flexibly than ants, but they can do so only with small numbers of other individuals that they know intimately. Sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. That’s why Sapiens rule the world, whereas ants eat our leftovers and chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.

      • Jessy Smith says:

        Oh, a book says religion is good or has been beneficial. Perhaps you should try “The End of Faith”, or “God is Not Great”.

        Believing things for no good reason without evidence is faith.
        Can a person not believe anything on faith? Anything at all? Don’t many people, indeed, in the face of contrary evidence, many people believe things on faith. In any other factor of life it’s called delusional thinking.

        While the post is titled “Right-wing evangelicals are the worst”, almost 50% of Catholics voted for Trump too, and it wasn’t as if Trump’s personality and history wasn’t fully on display for everyone to see.
        Religion is another form of tribalism.
        My religion (or sect) gets a pass, while that other one, they are the worst. Meanwhile Catholics still support an organization that, to this day, hides and protects child rapists.
        They campaign against contraception in places where people are still dying of AIDS.
        Humans have had lots of traits that have helped them in the past, and many of those same traits and social constructs have been destructive.

        Very soon individuals will have the technology to mass amounts of people. Believing things that isn’t supported by evidence, worse, ideas that have evidence against them is dangerous to our existence.

        Nicole, bacteria rule the world.
        Ants probably come before humans.

        “The combined heft of ants in the Brazilian Amazon is about four times greater than the combined mass of all of the mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, according to one survey.”



        You aren’t required to believe in myths or fiction, unlike so many if not the majority of religions.

      • Jessy Smith says:

        Also, it wasn’t fiction that allowed us to spread all over the world in vast numbers and almost rule the world, it was science, a method of determining how the world works, without using faith. It’s science that feeds us, clothes us, houses us, transports our goods and gives us long life spans. It’s science that cured small pox, polio and pretty much every other disease ever cured or successfully treated by humans.

        It’s why most children in the world live to be adults rather than dying. It’s science that gave us the highest standard of living in history. It’s why lower middle class in the Western world live better and longer lives than royalty did 200 years ago.
        It’s why we can communicate almost instantaneously over a vast telecommunications network, fly to Alaska or Germany, eat bananas in the winter for pennies a pound.

        Religions did none of that. Religions are unable to decide or determine any truth. That is why there are tens of thousands of Christian sects, thousands of religions, thousands of proposed gods.
        You can believe absolutely anything using faith.

        One doesn’t need religion to have fiction. Religion turns fiction into dogma.
        That’s the difference between myths and religion.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Fair to say, that shared, collective fictions have been essential for the success of the human species. Read Sapiens!

      • Nicole K. says:

        “Humanity’s greatest invention is religion, which does not mean necessarily mean belief in gods. Rather, religion is any system of norms and values that is founded on a belief in superhuman laws. Some religions, such as Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, believe that these superhuman laws were created by the gods. Other religions, such as Buddhism, Communism and Nazism believed that these superhuman laws are natural laws. Thus Buddhists believe in the natural laws of karma, Nazis argued that their ideology reflected the laws of natural selection, and Communists believe that they follow the natural laws of economics.”

        This idea as presented in “Sapiens” has influenced how I perceive the world around me more than just about any other idea I’ve encountered. When you think about how many imaginary things everyone accepts on a daily basis, like money, human rights, or private property, it makes you realize that society really does exist because human beings are very willing to assign great meaning to ideas that are only true in so far as they are accepted as true in our collective imagination. It’s one reason that I try to avoid becoming too invested in any ideology to the point that it handcuffs my ability to think for myself and consider alternatives that might provide better solutions.

    • homeys44 says:

      And so believing we’re all just soulless nothings makes you suddenly more environmentally conscious? . Like I said, this bigotry is just waiting to bust out on the Left. We’ll see more of these “your religion makes you bad and your politics bad” kind of attacks.

      • Nicole K. says:

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure the take out delivery driver that decided to yell at me that I was a f—-ing freak when they dropped off my food order last week was a liberal. The trucker that got in my face about a month ago when I came out of a rest area restroom was probably also a liberal too. And those Christians who don’t know me, yet decide to let me know God hates me are also liberals too.

        Give me a break. When you have to strategically choose where you can safely pee and have to deal with people regularly make it clear they hate you because of who you are, I’ll take your bigotry claims seriously. Until then, I’ll continue to think you have no idea what bigotry is.

      • Jessy Smith says:

        Where EXACTLY did I state I believe, or non religious people believe we are “soulless nothings”?
        We are hardly nothings. Soulless, yes, unless you have actual objective evidence? If you do, you’d be the first in history. Please present your evidence.

        Only an idiot thinks bad ideas that have no evidence are bigotry. That is what religion is, a crap load of bad ideas.

        And yes, people (especially evangelicals) who believe this is the end times don’t see a lot of reason for protecting the environment. Believing nonsense is shown to lead to people believing more nonsense, be it religious or any other kind of woo.

      • Nicole K. says:

        Wow. You really hate religion. I get that, but, at least for me, religions focus on meaning-making and what it means to be human. Most of the Christians that I know don’t accept very much of the Bible as literal truth, but they find meaning from it by focusing on the deeper ideas that teach about how we should relate to others and what it means to be a human being. Those are subjective questions about existence that science can’t solve.

        Yeah, there are fundamentalists in pretty much all religions and political ideologies (which are a form of religion) and I think they miss the point, but I think it’s pretty arrogant to proclaim myself the arbiter of what is and is not true, so I try to think at let think live and let live most of the time. I just think saying that religion is nonsense is only true if you think all religious people treat their sacred scriptures and doctrine as a type of history or science textbook that focuses on answering the same questions that science seeks to answer. I am one religious person who accepts the truths found in science without hesitation, but can still find great meaning from the study and practice of Christianity.

        The one thing I really find irritating about atheism (which can also arguably be considered a religion) is that it creates people that passionately and fervently believe religion is responsible for most of the problems in the world. Then, almost like missionaries, they go around proselytizing and basically have to let every religious person they can find know how stupid they are for having anything to do with religion. People aren’t usually going to be interested in hearing about how stupid they are, so doing this mostly just makes people dismiss you as a know it all or a jerk. So even if I decided to abandon my religion, the last thing I’d want to become is an atheist.

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