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December 12, 2010


See also.

Science, Politics and Policy in the Nixon Administration by Edward David.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Apr 1972.

Etc., etc. Ask a Nixon question, I probably have answers.

Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones and other Fundies rejected Billy Grahams’ “neo-evangelicalism” (they used it as a prerogative)
Or perhaps even a derogative, which is everyone's prerogative.

“ I belong to a sect that considers itself to be highly conservative, but we don't have any official church-view, or even any sort of unofficial church view on the place of Israel other than as a place of historical interest.

Most Protestant sects and denominations do not have an End Times view, however Billy Graham and his crew were indeed End-Timers, and most Pentecostals are as well. And this made the union under the Evangelical label, that much easier. A conservative like DG Hart and other High-Church Protestants do not have an End-Times eschatology, which makes their involvement in the Evangelical label that much more difficult.

The notion of an "evangelical tradition" came into vogue during the 1970s. Jimmy Carter, a child of the Billy Graham era, called himself an Evangelical,….in 1976, Newsweek and TIME made 1976 “The Year of the Evangelical.” Marsden’s book cemented the notion that there was an “evangelical tradition” which was sidetracked by mainstream society. However, Mainline historians were insisting that it was and should be called the “Anglo-Protestant tradition,” and the “Evangelical Tradition” seemed to side with the Fundamentalists’ narrative of US Protestant history. It was ingenious; the way political activists of the Religious Right appropriated the label and claimed it was always there. And Billy Graham and the Christianity Today crew enforced this view.

All Christians engage in “evangelism” however, “evangel-ICAL-ism” was a term constructed during the Reformation. Before Protestantism (I think that’s the RC’s term) they were calling themselves Evangelicals. Protestant kept, and evangel-ical-ism was the term used to describe the evangelism of Protestants.

Recent Protestant history has experienced a shift wherein the term, evangelicalism (a theological term describing proselytization) has metamorphosed into Evangelicalism which has become a wholly separate religious identity apart from the denominational structures of Protestantism. D.G. Hart a historian of American Protestantism, in his book Deconstructing Evangelicals: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham, painstakingly goes through the many bibliographical guides of American religion in universities and seminaries and discovers the noticeable lack of entries concerning evangelicalism, before the 1980s. “This resurgence of evangelical history has yielded the impression that something old has been discovered when it could actually be that scholars have taken something recent and read it selectively into the past” (Hart 2004).

Today, American Protestant Church historians, have investigated the works of social scientists, political scientists and historians prior to 1976, and discovered Evangelicalism, as a separate religious identity had not surfaced yet, except in Billy Graham/Fuller Semenary/Christianity Today circles, however after 1976 there was a torrent of books which;

[D]issolved older Protestant categories while also showing the infiltration of neo-evangelical self-understandings into mainstream academy. [These books] united diverse Protestant groups that in the day-in day-out duties of denominational life never cross paths. [They placed] the hard-core Calvinist in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, who believe speaking in tongues ended when the last apostle of Christ died, and members of the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination that makes Spirit-filled language a sign of genuine Christianity, are evangelicals. Never mind that each denomination has no formal link, other than an affirmation of the church universal. Nor does it seem to matter that as Calvinistic and Wesleyan denominations, these groups occupy fairly distinct positions on the Protestant spectrum. By waving the wand of conversion and Christian essentials, these Calvinists and Pentecostals became evangelicals (Hart 2004, 54).

After 1976, and more profusely after the Reagan Revolution, religious historians were not defining evangelicalism as the older generation had, as a revivalistic form of Protestantism or the mode in which Protestantism replicated itself, but as the preservation of orthodox and/or conservative Protestantism (Hart 2004). A complete and separate religious identity had been established, a trans-denominational identity was forged, which could embrace and speak for all Protestants, without the complicated denominational differences and a President to reaffirm this new faith (Hart 2004). It is also the era in which Fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones began to explore political power, since their organizations were being investigated by the government (Bruce 1998, Balmer 2006; Hart 2002).

I believe, since many academic didn’t care to appreciate the nuances of US Protestantism, they ended up taking the side of the Fundamentalists and neo-Evangelicals, it was by accident, to be sure, but careless all the same.


Can you tell I’m studying for quals?

Are you ever not?

(That struck a nerve!) I know, I know…I was supposed to take the exams last month, but was given an extension so I could finish gathering interviews and ethnographic research…so now the end of this summer is the set date.

I hope I’m not coming off as a know-it-all, because I am open to be shown wrong or “missing the point” its just that I really do love this stuff.

Or perhaps even a derogative, which is everyone's prerogative.

Thanks Gary.

'evangelical' as a word has as much a convoluted history as 'liberal' (and its evil twin 'libertarian')* or for that matter 'orthodox'.

*add to that that in Spanish a 'liberal' magazine would mean prawn** not politics left of center. I hear that is a quite common mistake for journalists to make.

**don't know whrther the actual word would trigger a NSFW filter.

Skipping past the thread to toss quick comment on the science/morality question: Science is all about the discovery of truth, without bias or fear and with an open mind. The ultimate motive of Science (as a capitalized non-specific entity, sort of like The Left) is the expansion of human knowledge; conversely, Science is the ongoing struggle against Ignorance, something known to cause harm to humans. It's well-intended: expanding knowledge and pushing back Ignorance brings a net improvement to everyone's lives.

In the simplest terms, it seeks truth in the service of humanity.

So, I see Science as inherently moral in the sense of satyagraha, the strength that comes from a loving adherence to truth.

Most Protestant sects and denominations do not have an End Times view

I hate to keep picking at this, but I have no idea what this means. It seems that you are claiming that most Protestant sects have no opinion at all regarding End Times, but this is manifestly false. But you might be thinking of "End Times" with some specific meaning that's other than my interpretation.

Anyway, if you have time, clarification might be good. If not, we can pick this topic up another time.

That struck a nerve!

Sorry, wasn't meaning to offend. I guess what I was pointing to, in a hopefully-unoffensive way, was that your studies seem to color your commentary here to a great degree. Which is not completely unexpected, nor is it objectionable in any way, just that I think I can usually tell what you're studying by your responses, here, and what our disagreement of the day is.

I hope I’m not coming off as a know-it-all, because I am open to be shown wrong or “missing the point” its just that I really do love this stuff.

No, I get it. It was a little off-putting, for me, for a while, until I realized that I do the exact same thing when I'm in one of my regrettably infrequent history-reading phases. But I think I get where you're coming from, and I also get that a source of much of our disagreement comes from your immersion (and my lack thereof) in a particular set of topics with its attendant descriptors that I am, more than likely, completely unfamiliar with.

Interesting, though, your division of evangelical from Evangelical. I've belonged to two different sects that have "Evangelical" as part of their name, but by your definition they ought to be lower-cased.

The Religious Right, though, I've long had intense disregard for. So even though "Religious Right" may not be a precise grouping, we may tend to have some overlap in opinion, once we Rectify our Names. I personally prefer to keep religion out of politics, and vice versa.

Pretty much any church that does outreach is evangelizing, and therefore evangelical. There is a fundamental difference between that sort of evangelical and fundamentalism.

The way I recall it in my undergrad History of Religion in America course (some time back), is that "evangelicalism," the theology, is unrelated to "to evangelize," the verb. (I made this error myself during discussion and was corrected on this point by the prof.)

"To evangelize" is, as you say, conducting religious outreach, bringing new folks into the fold. It's not exclusive to any brand of Christianity.

Roman Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Anglicans, Orthodox Christians all can and do send out missions spreading their flavor of the Word to new adherents.

"Evangelicalism" is the belief in a personal direct relationship between the believer and God. No heirarchy of clergy is necessary to intervene in this relationship.

Hence, of those groups listed above, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists are evengelical. Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox, all of whom believe in a clerical hierarchy that intervenes with God on the parishioner's behalf, are not.

(I'm also pretty sure this usage applies to other faiths than Christianity, iirc.)*

All of them evangelize, and all suffer from fundamentalism to some degree. My problem in the US is with fundamentalist evangelical Christians. Actually, I don't have any problem with their faith as it's none of my business. I just wish they're leaders and spokesvarmints would keep their intolerance out of public policy. It's the theocratic Dominionists, especially in the military, who really bother me.**

*At least, that's how I understood it. But what do I know? I'm an atheist.

**Check out the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sometime. They're about the only ones calling attention to the problem.

And if I'd read the thread all the way, I'd have caught someotherdude's outstanding comment.

Just want to point out that I was referring above to (my incomplete understanding of) lower-case evangelicalism and not upper-case Evangelicalism, the recent US religious movement of Graham, Falwell, et al.

The Religious Right, though, I've long had intense disregard for. So even though "Religious Right" may not be a precise grouping, we may tend to have some overlap in opinion, once we Rectify our Names. I personally prefer to keep religion out of politics, and vice versa.

Right with ya pal.

Discussing politics is already complicated by the need to spend most of our time defining terms. Religion is even worse. Combine the two and who knows what the hell anyone else is talking about?

I personally prefer to keep religion out of politics, and vice versa.

The reading for the day is Matthew 22:17-21.

I've always loved the showmanship in that story. It's not just "Hey guys, uh, think of all the great stuff the Romans have done for us, um, so we should, er, pay taxes because it's our civic duty and stuff?"

It's "All right, whiners, give me a goddamn coin. OK, now you see this? WHOSE HEAD is this? WHOSE NAME? ... That's RIGHT. 'Some asshole in Rome' is EXACTLY who it is. So send him his coins back and focus on what really matters, idiots."

I rather enjoy those parts of the New Testament that consist of a dirty hippie calling a bunch of venal, pious hypocrites on their bullshit. I say this as an atheist, obviously. But then, this is also why I don't have much time for most noisy Christians.


The way you described it, seems to be the way it is understood in Briton. And yet, class and ethnicity seems to have some type of influence in its understanding, as well, in the UK. That is to say, certain religious bureaucratic structures are tied to certain classes, within Protestantism. This theme seems to be persistent, when dealing with Northern Ireland/Ulster. (Evangelicalism & National Identity In Ulster, 1921-1998 by Patrick Mitchell) And then there is the infamous incident where Billy Graham went to the UK, in the 1950s, and asserted his belief that Capitalism and Christianity (Protestantism) was the one true faith. ">http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,889918,00.html"> Religion: The Crusade for Britain. While in the US, many of the neo-Evangelical organizations were gathering under the Evangelical label to establish themselves against the liberals and leftists which dominated (or had great influence) in the Mainline Protestant leadership, as it was represented by the National Council of Churches. This class component is very interesting. And yet the neo-Evangelical groups had racial boundaries as well. So when rules were being designed for membership, two groups were on the outs. Any Christian (Protestant) sect that denied the Trinity (ie, Oness Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses) and Black Protestants, regardless of theological foundations could not join. This is interesting, because it demonstrates how influential class and race are in influencing theological understandings.

To this day, many if not most, theologically conservative Black Protestants rarely use the Evangelical label.


You are right, I got really sloppy there. All Christians have an eschatological belief. When I use “End-Timers” I’m referring to, the belief that the events of Revelation are to come. Traditional Christianity, for Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and High Church Protestants maintained that most of the events in Revelation had already transpired, (the Roman Empire and its Caesars, prior to its Christianization, was the One World government and The Beasts) “The Second Coming” meant the end of history, quite literally, for most Christians’. However, in the late 1800s, new theologies developed in Britain and popularized in the US, claimed that most of the events in Revelations were yet to come, and the trials and tribulations described in the last book were happening now.

What does this have to do with Evangelicals?


Being evangelical is implicit in Protestant self understanding. BUT…because certain groups within any religious tradition wish to claim that their beliefs should be the dominant belief of the whole, boundaries are created in such a way, it is just assumed.

I remember listing to a NPR report about Evangelicals in Israel, doing everything they can to hasten Jesus’ return. The folks being interviewed called themselves Evangelical and the reporter referred to them as Evangelical and the Israeli government official who was happy for their support called the Evangelical. WHAT THE FREAK DID EVANGELICALISM HAVE TO DO WITH THAT!? I mean change the word “Evangelical” with “Christian” and it would be right but then it would be wrong. Yeah, all those End-Timers are Christian but not all Christians believe The Second Coming, in that way. How about Protestant? How about US Protestant? Basically, each person in that story was using the term in such a way as to be right, but also very imprecise. Calling them “End-Timers” or “Apocalyptic” or “Millenarian” would have made those US believers sound nutty, and the Israeli official does not want to look like they are grateful for getting support from nuts and the End-Timers don’t want to look like they are nuts, and the reporter either didn’t know what was really going on or she didn’t want to appear like she had a political stake in the game. So they settle on “Evangelical” a term which seems to connote Traditional American Christianity, even though no one can really define it. If they would have all agreed on Christian or Protestant, a torrent of letters would have been written about how wrong that label was, but since no one knows what the Hell Evangelical means, but they all seem to have a sense of what it means…TADA! They became Evangelical and now he media has helped create a border within a religious culture, although they are supposed to be objective bystander.

What were we supposed to be talking about?

Anyway….I think political stakes are so high, religion can never be separated

On the Israel matter there is a funny anecdote about Sharon. He was asked how he could accept support from people who think that the Jews are just pawns and the fuse to blow up the apocalptical powder keg. He answered that when the Messiah comes they would simply ask him whether it was his first or second coming. Well, G*d answered him with the stroke, if we believe certain televangelist.
Btw, why is the term evangelic used so rarely instead of the ubiquitous evangelical?

It's the theocratic Dominionists, especially in the military, who really bother me.**

*At least, that's how I understood it. But what do I know? I'm an atheist.

**Check out the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sometime. They're about the only ones calling attention to the problem.


*Cough*. (Look below the video.)

Are you sure? Drat.

If so, let's go to Jeff Sharlet, as I already did in those links, talk us some Mikey Weinstein, and then, we, too can, yet again, call attention to the issues at the Air Force Academy.

Pretty much any church that does outreach is evangelizing, and therefore evangelical.

Well, that's one of the major problems with organized religion - if they would just go about their business in private without trying to convert everybody else and indoctrinating children en masse, I'd be much more tolerant. I would still view it as a waste of time, but hey, so is watching TV.

While the shameless horndog gets in this murderous alien force called the Republican Party were cheating on one wife, science, with the buxom, big-haired wife of the holy roller in the Jesus camp outside of town, it turns they also had another wife, called economics, living in another town just over the state line.

They left her with 12 kids, no way to pay the bills, and a dose, like the vermin they be.


By way of Brad Delong.

And then there is the Luntzian propensity to whore-out their estranged sister: the English language.

They could have stayed with the neighborhood church and paid their taxes and obeyed the laws we had on the books.

Today's Republican Party: the most damaging and dangerous organization on the face of the Earth, despite their tearful, blubbering sentimentality.

Today's Democratic Party: cowards and appeasers in the face of a mortal enemy.

Hope you have as happy next couple of weeks as possible, Countme-In.

Drop me an email if you feel like it.

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