Saturday, May 15, 2021

Musings on the Moral Failure of American Christianity and Democracy

    By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Following World War II American democracy was seen as a light on a hill to the rest of the world; but that light dimmed after most white Christians lost their moral compass and elected Donald Trump as their President in 2016.  A Godless Chinese autocracy now challenges America’s materialistic and hedonistic democracy as the world’s economic and political ideal.  


Senator Josh Hawley (R Mo) and Doug Mastriono, a state senator from Pennsylvania, represent the moral failure of American Christianity and democracy.  They both have impressive credentials and claim to be Christians, but they extol Donald Trump as God’s chosen leader of America even though Trump exemplifies evil as described by Jesus (see Mark 7:21-23).


American democracy is stifled by a two-party duopoly that’s hopelessly polarized.  Republicans can’t break away from Trump as their iconic leader and Democrats are weakening the economy with excessive spending that’s increasing an astronomical national debt as they seek to convert a libertarian democracy into a socialist democracy.


Jesus taught that God’s will is to reconcile and redeem humanity by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, including those of other races and religions.  In politics, that requires an emphasis on providing for the common good.  For America’s polarized democracy to survive, there must be a politics of reconciliation to provide for the common good.


The lyrics of America the Beautiful describe a mythical utopia that never existed.  When that patriotic hymn was published in 1904, America’s culture was far from beautiful; yet for many in my generation those lyrics described an ideal worth living, fighting and dying for.  Sadly, that noble ideal dissipated in the election of 2016.


Over my 78 years, I’ve seen a degradation of American Christianity and democracy.  I share the libertarian dreams of my forebears.  I have served my nation in public office at home and in uniform overseas, and shared the altruistic moral teachings of Jesus as a UMC pastor.   In that time I have lost faith in religion and politics, but not in God’s power to restore America.

 

As a witness to how human depravity has corrupted Christianity and democracy, I have to doubt whether they can be saved from the dustbin of history.  Even so, as masters of our destiny, we must try to salvage our religion and democracy from their demise.  Can we transform an ugly America into America the Beautiful?  


Most Americans claim to be Christians.  They can restore the legitimacy of American Christianity and politics by asserting the primacy of the universal moral teachings of Jesus over exclusivist and divisive Christian beliefs never taught by Jesus.  They must become good stewards of democracy by promoting a politics of reconciliation to end partisan polarization, and then balance individual rights and partisan objectives with providing for the common good.



Notes:


Senator Josh Hawley (R Mo) has impressive credentials, but his personal history and his continuing support of Donald Trump’s anti-democratic assertions mark him as a radical-right Republican ideologue.

“As a U.S. senator, Hawley had led the charge to object to the 2020 election on the false premise that some states failed to follow the law, bolstering the baseless claims from President Donald Trump that the election was stolen and should be overturned. Hawley had said the ascent of Joe Biden to the presidency “depends” on what would happen on Jan. 6, the day of a pro forma congressional vote to affirm the election. He had been photographed that day pumping his fist in the air as some Trump supporters were gathering on the grounds outside the U.S. Capitol. Later, as rioters ransacked the building and several senators huddled in a secure room, fearing for their lives and trying to persuade their pro-Trump colleagues to withdraw their efforts to undermine democracy, Hawley remained combative in pushing the very falsehoods that had helped stoke the violence.

At 41, the freshman senator had become a face of a movement built on the lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent. “You have caused this!” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) erupted at him, referring to the events building up to the storming of the Capitol. Over the course of his rapid rise in politics — from law school professor to state attorney general to his 2018 election to the Senate — Hawley has followed two parallel paths, each reflecting a different political persona. On one, he has pursued elite privilege, even relative to other senators, commuting to a private high school, attending Stanford University and Yale Law School, clerking at the Supreme Court, and working for a powerful Washington law firm, all while courting liberal professors and establishment Republicans who enabled his ascent.On the other, he has expressed sympathy with some of the country’s most far-right, anti-government extremists, demonstrating a willingness to see the world through their grievance-infused prism even after horrific attacks — from Oklahoma City in 1995, when he was 15, to the Capitol attack in 2021. In the wake of Jan. 6, Hawley has made clear that he is committed to just one of those personas...the one that propelled him to promote Trump’s baseless election claims and help inspire an insurrection, and it has made Hawley an instant star in today’s far-right Republican Party.”

Hawley, an evangelical, had seen how Trump captured the presidency in 2016, in part by winning the White evangelical vote by 80 to 16 percent. So, when Hawley spoke before a group of ministers in Kansas City in December 2017, he sounded like a different person than the one who had written five years earlier that there were “distinct missions of church and state — is it really the role of government, for instance, to promote ‘Christian values’ or refurbish America’s Christian heritage?” The state, he had written, should not be used “to convert non-believers.” But in his 2017 speech, he advocated going into “the public realm and to seek the obedience of the nations, of our nation … to transform our society to reflect the gospel truth and lordship of Jesus Christ.” The speech drew a rebuke from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is dedicated to upholding the separation of church and state. The foundation wrote to the former constitutional law professor that his remark “stands in glaring defiance of the very Constitution that you swore an oath to uphold.”

Hawley’s position has increasingly taken hold in the party, where leaders at every level have embraced the false claims of election fraud. Trump remains the most popular figure in the country among GOP voters, and lawmakers who opposed the electoral college challenge have been booed at home and faced withering criticism from local party officials. On April 17, in his first public appearance in Missouri since the events of Jan. 6, Hawley...was swarmed by several hundred people who had gathered at a Lincoln Day dinner fundraiser for Christian County’s Republican Party. “We love Josh Hawley because he stands up for Missouri’s values,” said Wanda Marteen, 78, who organized the event. “The first thing, the big thing he stood up for, is the election. We feel like it was fraudulent.” See

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/05/11/senator-josh-hawley/.


Doug Mastriono is a state senator from Pennsylvania who, like Josh Hawley, has impressive credentials and a significant Republican following in his state.  He is an even more of an advocate than Hawley for Christian nationalism and Trump’s antidemocratic rhetoric that the 2020 election was stolen. See   https://www.newyorker.com/news/on-religion/a-pennsylvania-lawmaker-and-the-resurgence-of-christian-nationalism?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm.


On America the Beautiful, see Musings of a Maverick Methodist on America the Blessed and Beautiful--or is it? at http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/02/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_16.html,


America the Beautiful, By Katharine Lee Bates, from UMH Hymnal, p 696:  


O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain!

America, America!

God shed his grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

 

O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life!

America! America!

May God thy gold refine,

Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine!

 

O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears!

America! America!

God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law.


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Musings on the Need for Wisdom at the Inflection Point of American Democracy

    By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Wisdom has been defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment.”  Wisdom is a timeless virtue that transcends knowledge and religious beliefs, requiring years of experience and mature spiritual inspiration.  Jesus was a wisdom teacher, and his altruistic moral teachings provide timeless and universal standards of truth and legitimacy.


The Enlightenment transformed politics and religion in the Western World with advances in knowledge and reason.  Americans became masters of their destiny with libertarian democracy; but America’s politics and religion seem to have run their course.  American democracy has come to an inflection point, and political wisdom is needed to light the way ahead--but it’s in short supply.


From the birth of American democracy, Christian morality has been the primary source of its standards of political legitimacy.   Jesus emphasized the wisdom of reconciliation, but most white Christians rejected that wisdom when they elected Donald Trump in 2016.  The election reflected a church that has lost its moral compass and polarized partisan politics that defy reconciliation.


The moral teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors, including those of other races, religions and politics, as we love ourselves.  It’s taken from the Hebrew Bible, was taught by Jesus and has been accepted by Muslims as a common word of faith; and in politics it requires providing for reconciliation and the common good.        


God’s will is to reconcile and redeem humanity, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer; and Satan does a convincing imitation of God in religion and politics.  In the cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil, Satan is winning the popularity contest in America’s polarized politics.  That’s bad news for democracy; but wisdom and God’s will are not determined by majority rule.

David Brooks sees wisdom as a process of interacting rather than promoting common standards of political legitimacy; but it should be both.  While the tolerance of political differences is important; tolerance has its limits in seeking a politics of reconciliation.  There must be a consensus on the moral standards of political legitimacy to sustain a democracy.  


Obaid Omer is a Canadian Muslim who returned to Canada after being away for a number of years and found that its tolerant cultural norms had changed.  It was no longer acceptable to criticize religion or the politics of “woke” liberals.  Omer had the wisdom to seek a better understanding of opposing views before criticizing them, but he found little tolerance for his informed criticism.

The American experiment in democracy has reached its inflection point.  A polarized partisan duopoly has limited political choices to either radical right Republican populist nationalism or leftist Democratic socialism.  A libertarian democracy requires that individual rights and partisan objectives are balanced with providing for the common good.  It will take political wisdom and a politics of reconciliation to provide such a balance in America’s materialistic and hedonistic culture.



Notes:


Democracy is based on majority rule, and wisdom questions whether it can survive human depravity. 

Jesus taught that few will follow God’s truth.  “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13,14.  

Mark Twain once said,  “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Mark 3:25  

Abraham Lincoln affirmed the relevance of that wisdom to American democracy in the Civil War.

 

David Brooks has said that “when wisdom has shown up in my life, it’s been less a body of knowledge and more a way of interacting, less the dropping of secret information, more a way of relating that helped me stumble to my own realization. An emphasis on pervasive racism grew exponentially. To even question the extent to which racism was everywhere resulted in accusations of being a racist. Like with religious blasphemy codes, you can only talk about certain topics in specific ways. I couldn't help but notice there was an almost fundamentalist, faith-like aspect to these claims. It was as if in the years since I'd been gone, our society had decided to adopt the blasphemy codes of my youth. Wisdom is different from knowledge. Montaigne pointed out you can be knowledgeable with another person’s knowledge, but you can’t be wise with another person’s wisdom. Wisdom has an embodied moral element; out of your own moments of suffering comes a compassionate regard for the frailty of others.”

Brooks concludes, “We live in an ideological age, which reduces people to public categories — red/blue, Black/white — and pulverizes the personal knowledge I’m talking about here. But we all have the choice to see people as persons, not types. As the educator Parker J. Palmer put it, “the shape of our knowledge becomes the shape of our living.”  See https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/15/opinion/wisdom-attention-listening.html?.


Obaid Omer is a libertarian Muslim from Canada who promotes the freedom of speech.  After being overseas in Kosovo, Sudan, Bosnia Haiti and Afghanistan as a secular man for a decade,  Omer says, “When I came back to Canada in 2014, I returned to a different country than the one I had left.

I had left a country that was proud of being the opposite of what bothered me about Islam, that was proud of a tradition of free inquiry and free speech, open debate and civil discourse. The Canada I returned to resembled the religion of my youth more than it did its opposite.  ...An emphasis on pervasive racism grew exponentially. To even question the extent to which racism was everywhere resulted in accusations of being a racist. Like with religious blasphemy codes, you can only talk about certain topics in specific ways.  I couldn't help but notice there was an almost fundamentalist, faith-like aspect to these claims. It was as if in the years since I'd been gone, our society had decided to adopt the blasphemy codes of my youth.  ...How did the religious tenets I had abandoned come to take over the liberal culture I had abandoned them for?  To answer this question, I did what I had once done with the texts of Islam: I educated myself. I started reading about critical race theory and Intersectionality. I spent eighteen months reading critical social justice scholarship, and gender and queer theories. It was here I found the rejection of the Enlightenment values that made these theories closer to religion than to its opposite.”  Omer ’s classic libertarian wisdom challenges the “woke” wisdom of leftist politics that discourages criticism, illustrating the competing perspectives of wisdom in politics.  See  

https://www.newsweek.com/i-left-islam-liberal-values-now-woke-liberals-are-embracing-new-religion-opinion-1586128.

  

On balancing rights with the common good, see Musings on Rights and Responsibilities at 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/07/musings-on-rights-and-responsibilities.html.



          


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Musings on President Biden's Vision of American Democracy at its Inflection Point

     By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

On April 28 President Biden shared his vision of American democracy at its inflection point with Congress, proposing that it go big and go fast with an array of social programs that would transform America from a libertarian to a socialist democracy.  The question is whether most Americans will support Biden’s proposal for such a political revolution in Congress.

The price tag of $6 trillion on top of America’s already massive national debt should be a major constraint for Biden’s proposals; but Republicans lost their credibility to complain about increasing the national debt during the Trump regime.  Polarized partisan politics and a paper-thin Democratic majority in Congress make it conceivable that Democrats can prevail.


The 2022 elections will likely end a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, but not polarized partisan politics.  Biden’s strategy for his radical policy changes requires action before 2022 and depends on polarized partisan politics for his slim majority.  It would only take the defection of a few House Democrats and one Democratic Senator to prevent their passage.


Changes in American politics have traditionally been evolutionary and incremental in nature rather than revolutionary, with concern for the cost of social programs that increase the national debt.  Biden’s proposals fly in the face of those political traditions, and there seems no moderate middle ground between right wing Republicans and leftist Democrats.


Both parties claim to seek compromise with the other, but their talk is cheap.  Both parties rely on partisan power for policy changes and resist a politics of reconciliation.  While Biden has indicated an openness to changes in his proposals, he has made it clear that he is going to move fast to pass his proposals and will push hard against any opposition to them.


Biden and his Democratic Party acknowledge that their proposals represent dramatic change.  While they clearly deserve more time for consideration and public debate, that’s not likely in a polarized Congress that has few if any moderates willing to cross the partisan aisle.  It reminds us that partisan polarization prevents the healthy debate so essential in a democracy.


A politics of reconciliation is needed to provide political moderation in Congress.  Many voted for Biden thinking he would bring moderation back to American politics, and they must be disappointed.  But the prospect of mid-term elections in 2022 may motivate some in Congress to reconsider their blind partisan loyalty before they vote on Biden’s proposals.


America is and will remain a democracy whether or not the BIden proposals pass.  After all, Americans are the masters of their political destiny and are accountable for the actions of their President and Congress.  But Americans love their benefits, and if and when they allow their individual benefits to undermine the economic future of their nation, their democracy is doomed.             



Notes:


Dan Balz described President Biden’s speech to Congress as seeking to leverage narrow majorities to reverse the Reagan era.  “Biden said that to win the competition for the future, ‘the nation needs “a once-in-generation investment in our families and our children.’   Given the Democrats’ narrow majorities in Congress and a nation still sharply divided over the president’s performance, Biden’s agenda represents a policy and political gamble of enormous proportions, one that will be adjudicated in both the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election. The politics of redistribution, which are at the heart of what Biden is proposing, could test decades of assumptions that Democrats should be afraid of being tagged as the party of big government.  

...Together, the already approved coronavirus relief plan, the infrastructure proposal that was unveiled a few weeks ago and the newly proposed plan to invest in social welfare programs would total roughly $6 trillion, much of it aimed at middle- and working-class families. Biden would pay for much of the infrastructure and family spending with increased taxes on corporations and on the wealthiest Americans.”

Balz cited William Galstonj of the Brookings Institution: “The Biden administration is making an enormous wager on a certain vision of the future. If they turn out to be right, it will not only be transformational but celebrated in history as such. It will have leveraged the thinnest possible political majority into very large accomplishments. But simply to state that thesis is to illustrate just how remarkable it would be if this line of policy and if this political strategy prevails.” See https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-100-days-biden-seeks-to-leverage-narrow-majorities-to-reverse-the-reagan-era/2021/04/28/2a7a5610-a869-11eb-bca5-048b2759a489_story.html.


Kevin Liptak of CNN has provided takeaways from President Biden’s first address to Congress.  “A long wait is ended, and Biden wants to move fast. ‘America is moving – moving forward. And we can’t stop now,” Biden said. “We’re in a great inflection point in history. We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better. But the rest of the world isn’t waiting for us. I just want to be clear: from my perspective doing nothing is not an option.’   ...Biden argued that big government is better governmentIf there was one argument animating Biden’s speech – and his entire presidency to date – is that more government, when working right, can improve Americans’ lives. It’s a simple proposition that bucks a decades-long trend in both parties toward a smaller, less interventionist Washington. ...It’s a distant cry from President Bill Clinton’s declaration in his 1996 State of the Union that “the era of big government is over.” Speaking from the same podium 25 years later, Biden seemed to argue the exact opposite: that now is the time for big government to return – and with it the chance to prove that it’s still working.

Polls, including a CNN survey conducted by SSRS, show a majority of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance at this stage in his presidency and also show some appetite for Biden’s expansive view of government. An NBC News poll found 55% of Americans said government “should do more to solve problems” compared to 41% who said it’s doing too much.”  See https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/28/politics/joe-biden-congress-address-takeaways/index.html.


On earlier commentary that anticipated President Biden’s proposals to Congress, see  http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/04/musings-on-new-enlightenment-and.html.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

How a Failing Church Could Help Reconcile America's Polarized Politics

    By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Last week’s commentary was on the future of the church.  This week it’s about how a fading White church could help reconcile America’s polarized politics.  Following Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the 1980s, the White church became increasingly complicit with Republicans, culminating in the 2016 election of Donald Trump.  Since then it’s all been downhill.

American Christians can be considered color-coded by both partisan politics and race.   Most White Christians are red (Republicans) while most Black Christians are blue (Democrats).  White churches are fading while Black churches seem to be holding their own.  Most churches remain segregated by race and partisan politics--all the more reason for them to be reconciled.


The increasing disillusionment of White Christians with their churches relates to the failure of the church to challenge the egregious immorality of radical right Republican politics.  While there are fewer Christians loyal to Republican politics, they haven’t become loyal to leftist Democratic politics.  Where are those who have left the church gravitating in their politics?

Most who have left the church have not given up their faith, but become independent voters motivated by the altruistic morality taught by Jesus.  It’s summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves.  Those displaced Christians could help reconcile America’s polarized politics.

The church has long been divided into myriad denominations, but it has never been as polarized by partisan politics as it has since 2016.  Restoring the credibility and legitimacy of the church will require giving primacy to following the teachings of Jesus over promoting exclusivist church beliefs.  If that happens there will be positive political consequences.

     The future of Christianity and American democracy depend on restoring altruistic moral values as standards of political legitimacy.  Until 2016, the altruistic and universal teachings of Jesus provided those values, but no longer.  Both political parties are now exploiting a moral vacuum in political legitimacy by promoting divisive partisan values.

     To overcome America’s polarized partisan politics, one or both parties must revive the tradition to cross the aisle and compromise on contentious issues.  Alternatively, a third party could become a reconciling political force.  If America’s two-party duopoly is left to its existing political inertia, it will remain polarized, with little chance of reconciliation.

The demise of a church that has lost its moral compass could ironically be the catalyst that saves American democracy from the tyranny of an immoral majority.  As the moral vacuum in the church becomes more evident it will wither and die as a major force in politics.  If so, a reborn Christianity and democracy could rise Phoenix-like from the ashes of the church.


Notes:

Suggesting that fading churches could help reconcile America’s polarized politics is just another way of saying that most churches have promoted polarized politics by their failure to criticize egregious and divisive popular demagogues like Donald Trump.  Since its inception, the church has measured its success by its popularity and power, and in its zeal to gain converts it has subordinated following the moral teachings of Jesus (discipleship) to worshiping Jesus as the alter ego of God--even though Jesus never suggested that he was divine.  Exclusivist church doctrines that make belief in a divine Jesus Christ the only means of salvation are a means of cheap grace since they avoid the cost of discipleship.  If the past is a prelude to the future, the church is not likely to change its doctrinal priorities from worshiping Christ to following Jesus. See Robin R. Meyers, Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus, Harper One, 2009.

The Phoenix is a mythological bird of ancient Greek origin associated with the sun, and said to be born again, rising from its ashes.  “Over time, extending beyond its origins, the phoenix could variously ‘symbolize renewal in general as well as the sun, time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life’. Some scholars have claimed that the poem De ave phoenice may present the mythological phoenix motif as a symbol of Christ's resurrection.”  See Wikipedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(mythology).

 


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Future of the Church

    By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Adam Russell Taylor has asserted that It’s TIme to Rethink American Churches, but he may be a day late and a dollar short to save the church from its demise.  The church is in a precipitous decline, much like that experienced by the European church.  While It’s not going away anytime soon, the church is losing its influence as America’s largest social institution.


Taylor acknowledged that “Americans’ membership in houses of worship has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in 80 years,” and cited David Campbell describing the decline of the church as an “allergic reaction to the religious right.”  Taylor said he “has often wondered why so many evangelical leaders have failed  to challenge the unholy marriage between the church and Republican Party, enabling destructive forces to hijack the gospel.”


Taylor correctly identified the root problem of the church as its failure to make the great commission “to go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:10) its first priority.  Instead of emphasizing following the teachings of Jesus as the word of God, church doctrine has emphasized worshiping Jesus Christ as a Trinitarian form of God as the only means of salvation.


Jesus was a rabbi who called his disciples to follow him, not to worship him.  He never taught that he was divine or suggested the need for a new religion.  Early church leaders knew that discipleship was not popular and made salvation dependent on exclusivist Christian beliefs.  As a form of cheap grace it enabled Christianity to become the world’s most popular religion.

 

The nadir of Christianity came when a majority of White Christians elected Donald Trump president in 2016.  Trump’s egregious immorality is antithetical to the moral teachings of Jesus, but he was elected with the active support of shameless White evangelical charlatans and their followers.  They sullied Christianty and polarized American partisan politics.


The standards of political legitimacy of most White Christians today resemble the self-centered and materialistic morality of Ayn Rand and the prosperity gospel, and contradict the altruistic moral teachings of Jesus.  In effect, those Christians who supported Donald Trump sacrificed Jesus on the altar of Republican politics, and sounded the death knell of the church.


Most pastors would concede that their top priority is growing the church, and that making discipleship and the stewardship of democracy a church priority would cause a decline in their  congregations.  That makes Taylor’s rethinking the church problematic.  The ugly reality is that discipleship will never be popular in America’s materialistic and hedonistic culture.  


Robin Meyers is more pragmatic.  The title of his book, Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus, summarizes how would-be disciples should rethink the church.  But Meyers’ priority is not likely to ever become the priority of a church that’s committed to being America’s most popular and powerful social institution.



Notes:


On Adam Russell Taylor’s Time to Rethink the American Church, see https://sojo.net/articles/it-s-time-rethink-american-churches.


See Robin R. Meyers, Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus, HarperOne, 2009.   


On other commentaries on The Future of the Church that has lost its moral compass, see

(2/8/15): Promoting Religion Through Evangelism: Bringing Light or Darkness?

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/02/promoting-religion-through-evangelism.html

(2/15/15): Is Religion Good or Evil?

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/02/is-religion-good-or-evil.html

(4/5/15): Seeing the Resurrection in a New Light

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/04/seeing-resurrection-in-new-light.html

(4/19/15): Jesus: A Prophet, God’s Only Son, or the Logoshttp://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/04/jesus-prophet-god-only-son-or-logos.html

(10/4/15): Faith and Religion: The Same but Different

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/10/faith-and-religion-same-but-different.html

(7/9/16): Back to the Future: Race, Religion, Rights and a Politics of Reconciliation

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/07/back-to-future-race-religion-rights-and.html

(8/5/16): How Religion Can Bridge Our Political and Cultural Divide http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/08/how-religion-can-bridge-our-political.html

(9/17/16): A Moral Revival to Restore Legitimacy to Our Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/09/a-moral-revival-to-restore-legitimacy.html

(9/24/16): The Evolution of Religion and Politics from Oppression to Freedom

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/09/the-evolution-of-religion-and-politics.html

(11/5/16): Religion, Liberty and Justice at Home and Abroad

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/11/religion-liberty-and-justice-at-home.html

(12/31/16): E Pluribus Unum, Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/12/e-pluribus-unum-religion-and-politics.html

(1/7/17): Religion and Reason as Sources of Political Legitimacy, and Why They Matter

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/01/religion-and-reason-as-sources-of.html

(1/21/17): Religion and Reason Redux: Religion Is Ridiculous

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/01/religion-and-reason-redux-religion-is.html

(1/28/17): Saving America from the Church

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/01/saving-america-from-church.html

(3/18/17): Moral Ambiguity in Religion and Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/03/moral-ambiguity-in-religion-and-politics.html

(4/15/17): Easter and the Christian Paradox

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/04/easter-and-christian-paradox.html

(4/22/17): The Relevance of Jesus and the Irrelevance of the Church in Today’s World

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/04/the-relevance-of-jesus-and-irrelevance.html

(4/29/17): A Wesleyan Alternative for an Irrelevant Church

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/04/a-wesleyan-alternative-to-irrelevant.html

(6/24/17): The Evolution of Religion, Politics and Law: Back to the Future?

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/06/the-evolution-of-religion-politics-and.html.

(7/1/17): Religion, Moral Authority and Conflicting Concepts of Legitimacy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/07/religion-moral-authority-and.html.

(7/15/17): Religion and Progressive Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/07/religion-and-progressive-politics.html.

(7/22/17): Hell No! 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/07/hell-no.html.

(8/12/17): The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism  

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/08/the-universalist-teachings-of-jesus-as.html.

(10/7/17): A 21st Century Reformation to Restore Reason to American Civil Religion http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/10/a-21st-century-reformation-to-restore.html.

(12/23/17): If Democracy Survives the Trump Era, Can the Church Survive Democracy? http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/12/if-democracy-survives-trump-era-can.html.

(3/3/18): Musings of a Maveri

ck Methodist on America’s Holy War

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/03/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(3/17/18): Jefferson’s Jesus and Moral Standards in Religion and Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/03/jeffersons-jesus-and-moral-standards-in.html

(3/31/18): Altruism: The Missing Ingredient in American Christianity and Democracy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/03/altruism-missing-ingredient-in-american.html.

(4/7/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Need for a Moral Reformation

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/04/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on-need.html.

(4/28/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Virtues and Vices of Christian Morality

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/04/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(5/12/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Christianity and Making America Great Again

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/05/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_12.html

(7/14/18): Musings on Why Christians Should Put Moral Standards Over Mystical Beliefs

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/07/musings-on-why-christians-should-put.html.

(8/4/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Religious Problems and Solutions in Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/08/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(8/11/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Changing Morality in Religion and Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/08/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_11.html.

(9/1/18): Musings on the American Civil Religion and Christianity at a Crossroads

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/09/musings-on-american-civil-religion-and.html.

(9/29/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Resurrection of Christian Universalism

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/09/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(12/1/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Mystical Logos

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/12/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(12/15/18): Musings on the Great Commission and Religious and Political Tribalism

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/12/musings-on-great-commission-and.html.

(12/22/18): Musings on Faith and Works: The Unity of All Believers and The Last Judgment

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/12/musings-on-faith-and-works-unity-of-all.html.

(2/9/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Hypocrisy of American Christianity

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/02/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_9.html.

(3/2/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Post-Christian America

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/03/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on-post.html.

(3/9/19): Musings on the Degradation of Democracy in a Post-Christian America

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/03/musings-on-degradation-of-democracy-in.html.

(3/16/19): Musings on the Evolution of Christian Exclusivism to Universalism

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/03/musings-on-evolution-of-christian.html.

(3/23/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Thinking Outside the Box

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/03/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(5/4/19): Musings on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/05/musings-on-good-bad-and-ugly.html.

(5/11/19): Musings on the Relevance of Jefferson’s Jesus in the 21st Century

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/05/musings-on-relevance-of-jeffersons.html.

(5/18/19): Outsiders Versus Insiders in Religion, Legitimacy and Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/05/outsiders-versus-insiders-in-religion.html.

(5/25/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Divinity and Moral Teachings of Jesus

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/06/musings-on-military-legitimacy-and.html

(6/8/19): The Moral Failure of the Church to Promote Altruism in Politics 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/06/the-moral-failure-of-church-to-promote.html

(6/15/19): Back to the Future: A 21st Century Pentecost for the Church

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/06/back-to-future-21st-century-pentecost.html.

(6/22/19): The Universal Family of God: Where Inclusivity Trumps Exclusivity

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/06/the-universal-family-of-god-where.html

(8/3/19): Musings on the Dismal Future of  the Church and Democracy in America

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/08/musings-on-dismal-future-of-church-and.html.

(8/10/19): Musings on Christian Nationalism: A Plague on the Church and Democracy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/08/musings-on-christian-nationalism-plague.html.

(8/31/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Politics of Christian Zionism

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/08/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(9/7/19): Musings on the Self-Destruction of Christianity and American Democracy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/09/musings-on-self-destruction-of.html.

(9/21/19): An Afterword on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics from 2014-2019

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/09/an-afterword-on-religion-legitimacy-and.html.

(10/5/19): Musings on the Moral Relevance of Jesus to Democracy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/10/musings-on-moral-relevance-of-jesus-to.html.

(11/9/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Virtual Alternative to a Failing Church

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/11/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_9.html.

(11/16/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Irrelevance of Morality in Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/11/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_16.html.

(11/23/19): Musings on Jesus and Christ as Conflicting Concepts in Christianity

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/11/musings-on-jesus-and-christ-as.html.

(12/7/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Religious Triumphalism and Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/12/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html

(12/14/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Prophets, Scripture and God’s Truth

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/12/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_14.html.

(12/21/19): Musings on Advent and a Not-so-Merry Christmas for American Democracy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/12/musings-on-advent-and-not-so-merry.html.

(1/11/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Christians as a Moral Minority

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/01/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(2/1/20): Musings on the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Altar of Partisan Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/02/musings-on-sacrifice-of-jesus-on-altar.html.

(6/13/20): Was Jesus the Prophet of the Gospels or the Christ of the Church?

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/06/was-jesus-prophet-of-gospels-or-christ.html.

(11/21/20): Democracy Has Survived Donald Trump, but Can the Church Survive Democracy?

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/11/democracy-has-survived-donald-trump-but.html.

(2/20/21): The Moral Corruption of Christianity and Democracy in the Trump Era

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/02/the-moral-corruption-of-christianity.html.

(3/20/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Radical Moral Teachings of Jesus

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/03/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(3/27/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Civil Religion in a Divided America

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/03/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on-civil.html.