Done with sugarcoating

Chrissy Stroop on evangelicals and vaccine-refusal:

As many exvangelicals have been trying to get the American mainstream to understand for years now, evangelical subculture is essentially ground zero for America’s other pandemic—disinformation. Conservative, mostly white evangelicalism, which represents a fear-based, authoritarian outlook on a social scale, has constructed a parallel society, mediated through churches, Christian publishing, homeschooling, Christian schools, Christian colleges and universities, and numerous parachurch ministries, in which certain sacrosanct “truths” are never questioned. When reality contradicts the truths that define group membership, the evangelical community circles the wagons and puts the power and influence of its tight institutional network behind the assertion that, in fact, the emperor is wearing clothes, and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty godless liberal intent on persecuting Christians.

How do I justify such a frank, unflattering assertion? Well, I’m not only well-versed in the relevant data and literature, but I grew up in evangelical authoritarianism myself, with a Christian school education and participation in short-term youth mission trips. I have evangelical vaccine refusers among my close relatives, and I’ve now been writing commentary, journalism, and policy research on the Christian Right beat for six years. And I’m done with sugarcoating my assessment of what’s wrong with right-wing Christians, as I’m convinced that such coddling of Christian nationalists is a luxury that Americans can no longer afford if we hope to avert an even greater public health disaster and to have a democratic future.

I do quite hope for both of those items – no bigger public health disaster, and a democratic future. Yes, I think those are better than the alternatives. Wacky, I know.

While most secular Americans and most religious groups navigate pluralism just fine, there are other religious groups—white Christian groups in particular, but also including a significant proportion of Latinx Christians and some other Christians of color—whose overwhelmingly anti-pluralist, anti-democratic religious views are a key source of America’s critical problems. If we remain trapped in the older, unnuanced thinking about the supposedly intrinsic goodness of “religion” itself, whatever that is—a view that’s still far too widespread among America’s elite pundit class—we will never be able to effectively confront American authoritarianism. 

I think much of the pundit class doesn’t so much hold the view as fear being seen to reject the view.

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