Friday, June 28, 2024

the last book I ever read (The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta, excerpt sixteen)

from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta:

There is nothing to reclaim. This country—a drop in the bucket, like all the nations—was never God’s to begin with, because “God does not show favoritism,” as Peter said, “but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Attempts to devise some divine conception of the United States often end up demonstrating exactly the opposite. Take, for example, an Independence Day 2023 tweet from Josh Hawley, the disgraced Missouri senator whose lies and deceptive parliamentary maneuverings helped set in motion the violence of January 6. Celebrating the holiday with a “quote” from Patrick Henry, the senator tweeted: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” It might have been humiliating enough for Hawley to learn that the found father never spoke or wrote those words; what should have been downright mortifying was to realize, as the historian Seth Cotlar documented, that these words actually originated in a notoriously antisemitic and white-nationalist publication, the Virginian, 150 years after Henry’s death.

Hawley never bothered to apologize for the error. And why would he? The way many of his constituents see it, secular progressives, in their quest to destroy America’s Christian heritage, stopped playing by the rules a long time ago. Fire must be fought with fire. Standards must be suspended. A winner-takes-all mentality must be embraced. When the conservative activist (and future Trump administration official), Michael Anton wrote his 2016 essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” he argued that leftists had hijacked America; the only chance for its survival was if conservatives rushed the cockpit, knowing full well that they might just crash the plane themselves. Notably absent from that essay was any reference to Christ, or to Christianity, or even to God. And yet the argument Anton makes—that imminent destruction justifies the unthinkable acts that may themselves lead to imminent destruction—has come to define the modern religious right.

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