Fear of everything but God.

Alan grumbles over his newspaper from time to time, but seldom says, “This is really good,” so when he does, I pay attention.

He said this is really good. I agree. It’s about how evangelicals have sold their souls, ha ha, to a new kind of religion, which the author, Amy Sullivan, calls Fox Evangelicalism:

But if the conservative media has created a category of Fox evangelical converts, it has also influenced the way a whole generation of churchgoing evangelicals thinks about God and faith. On no issue is this clearer than guns.

In fall 2015, I visited Trinity Bible College, an Assemblies of God-affiliated school in North Dakota, to join the conservative evangelical students there for a screening of “The Armor of Light,” a documentary by the filmmaker Abigail Disney. The film followed the pastor and abortion opponent Rob Schenck on his quest to convince fellow evangelicals — the religious demographic most opposed to gun restrictions — that pro-life values are incompatible with an embrace of unrestricted gun access. I found Mr. Schenck compelling, and my editor had sent me to see if his target audience bought the arguments.

It did not.

As two dozen of us gathered for a post-screening discussion, I was both astonished and troubled, as a fellow evangelical, by the visceral sense of fear that gripped these young adults. As a child in the Baptist church, I had been taught to be vigilant about existential threats to my faith. But these students in a town with a population of some 1,200 saw the idea of a home invasion or an Islamic State attack that would require them to take a human life in order to save others as a certainty they would face, not a hypothetical.

These fears are far removed from the reality of life in North Dakota, a state that saw a total of 21 homicides in 2015. Of those deaths, seven were caused by firearms, and only three were committed by someone unknown to the victim. Yet the students around me agreed unreservedly with Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, who was seen in the film asserting that “in the world around us, there are terrorists, home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers.”

Imagine living in a state – not a city, a state – with 21 homicides in a year, only three of which were by an unknown assailant. I’m subscribed to a number of Facebook groups about various communities in the Grosse Pointes, and I’m amazed at how many people talk wildly about using guns to remedy petty-crime issues like theft from unlocked cars or package thefts from front porches, a common crime at this time of year. Imagine somehow catching a person trying to abscond with an Amazon box containing a Bluetooth speaker or pair of pants or whatever, and putting a bullet into their body.

Also imagine being the person who fans that fear, and uses it to gather power, or make money. I shudder to think.

But as the recent election in Alabama indicated, this particular segment of the electorate is willing to go very very far afield of their stated principles. From Politico, another rather alarming dispatch, about Jen Hatmaker (great name), an evangelical leader who went on the record as a never-Trumper and a supporter of same-sex marriage:

That’s when the full weight of conservative Christian outrage crashed down on Hatmaker. There were soon angry commenters and finger-wagging bloggers. She says people in her little town of Buda, Texas, just south of Austin, pulled her children aside and said terrible things about her and her husband. She was afraid to be in public, and she wasn’t sleeping or eating well. “The way people spoke about us, it was as if I had never loved Jesus a day in my life,” Hatmaker recently told an audience in Dallas. The gilded auditorium was quiet, its 2,300 seats filled to capacity with nearly all women. “And I was just an ally,” she said. “Think about how our gay brothers and sisters feel.”

Such a strange time to be alive.

It was a strange weekend, too, here in Detroit. A prominent journalist, Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press, Pulitzer winner, host of a daily public-radio show and with fingers in many other pies, became the latest man to fall to you-know-what. However, it was handled about as badly as these things can be handled, with the paper declining to release any details to their readers whatsoever. I’m not the only person who was shocked to hear this, and I have doubts as to the nature and seriousness of these unspecified incidents. This has led to a social-media frenzy, as you might imagine, with uninformed readers speculating as to the nature of these offenses, whatever they may be.

There’s a time when it’s best to shut up, and best to come clean. There are also times when you should talk to a lawyer. This was a big career to fall without a single justification being publicized.

Finally, I mentioned I’m back to work. I’m the new — and founding — director of communications for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a policy-research nonprofit with roots dating back to the progressive era. It so happens I wrote the story for Bridge on the group’s 100th anniversary, in which its president emeritus described it as the best-kept secret in Michigan. My job, which is funded by a capacity-building grant, will be to raise their profile. I’m not doing any of the research, just helping them spread the word. It’s a new role for me, and a challenge – they’re scrupulously factual and nonpartisan in a time when that approach is both more necessary and less common than ever. Not much will change around here, but I feel like I could host an ask-me-anything about Medicaid expansion right now.

The homestretch to the holidays is on.

Posted at 5:21 pm in Current events, Housekeeping |
 

65 responses to “Fear of everything but God.”

  1. David C. said on December 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and professor at Texas Tech University. She’s also an Evangelical Christian trying to speak on the need to take action on climate change. It usually doesn’t go well.

    Most of the time, she laughs these incidents off. “I got one today that was exceptional,” she told me in late September, as we sat inside the Climate Science Center. “Most of the stuff is rambling, but this one was not. Someone wrote on Facebook, ‘She is a lying lunatic, and probably a witch.’ That was very concise,” she said with a grin. But sometimes the comments veer into violent territory. Hayhoe recalls one email that prompted her to call authorities. “You are a mass murderer and will be convicted at the Reality TV Grand Jury in Nuremberg, Pennsylvania,” the email began. “After the Grand Jury indicts you, I would like to see you convicted and beheaded by guillotine in the public square, to show women that if they are going to take a man’s job, they have to take the heat for mass murder.” But most of the time, Hayhoe doesn’t let such vitriol drive her to despair, though dealing with it can be exhausting. “What frustrates me the most, and what I find difficult not to take personally, is how much of the hate mail comes from so-called Christians.”

    https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/katharine-hayhoe-lubbock-climate-change-evangelist/

    She said this in a recent interview. “Today, political evangelicals are relying on two sources of authority: their politics and the Bible, and when push comes to shove they’ll go with the politics.” I don’t think anybody can argue with that. She’s brilliant, kind, funny, and one of them and they still won’t listen to her. But they’ll listen to Shit for brains Sean who likely couldn’t find his ass with both hands.

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  2. Jeff Borden said on December 17, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    This is why I find the demand that we try to understand these folks so difficult to do. They simply don’t live in the empirical world. Facts are meaningless. Statistics, data and physical evidence are waved away with snorts of “fake news” or accusations of godless liberal bias. I’ve never been a fan of evangelicals. Their embrace of the pussygrabber-in-chief, their support for a pedophile old man in Alabama, their hatred of the “other” –especially Muslims– has cemented by views. I don’t want anything to do with them or their version of religion. Understanding is a two-way street they are unwilling to travel.

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  3. Suzanne said on December 17, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Living in rural Indiana, your story from N Dakota does not surprise me one bit. I used to work with a woman who told me often that Muslims were moving into small towns all over the country in droves, taking over, and making everyone be strict Muslim. “That’s their plan.” A good friend of mine, who never, ever locks her doors, even when they are gone on vacation, told me she is afraid to walk by herself on her rural road, even in broad daylight because, well, you just never know. Kidnappers could be anywhere. Not sure why she thinks she’ll be grabbed on the road, but doesn’t worry that someone will sneak in at night, but there it is.
    Personally, I don’t like to walk much during hunting season because I fear an errant bullet from the woods near my house, not ISIS or drug cartels. But I know from experience that there is a heck of a lot of fear out here in the hinterlands, fear of things that are as likely to be encountered as a raging mad rhinoceros. But arm yourselves, just in case…

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  4. Charlotte said on December 17, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    We have a younger friend, whose wife is evangelical-adjacent, and who nearly got himself in a world of trouble when he was renting our in-town house. His kids bikes kept going astray (the middle schoolers steal them, joy ride down hill to the middle school, and abandon them in the bike racks). This kid was ready to start sitting in the darkened carport with a gun, waiting for them. Himself managed to talk him off the ledge — this is a sweet guy, who would have been RUINED by shooting some kid stealing bikes. That the churches and the NRA and Fox news have guys like that convinced that to Be A Man they have to be willing to shoot first, makes me deeply angry.

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  5. beb said on December 17, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    It seems like civilization is unraveling all around us. I blame Fox News and the whole 24-hour news cycle. When you have to fill that much time sensationalism comes to the fore.

    When evangelicals live in fear of evangelicals you know we’re through the looking glass.

    Congrats on the new job. Good luck with talking up your new employer.

    I’m down in Indiana house sitting with my dad. My wife called with the news about Stephen Henderson. Shocking is about the only word for it.

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  6. basset said on December 17, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Congrats on the new job. Let us know how it goes the first time you have to explain any of that stuff to a Detroit TV reporter.

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  7. Heather said on December 17, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Congrats on the new job! It sounds like a really interesting gig.

    I just came from my family’s pre-Christmas party, where my cousin, a total Trumpie, was actually *joking* about Sandy Hook being a fake. I said, “Please stop. Those could have been your kids.” “No they couldn’t–because they didn’t exist!” He was just trying to get a rise out of us, but still–so tasteless, and I said so. And I have to go to his house for actual Christmas next week.

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  8. FDChief said on December 17, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    “Evangelical Christian” has stopped being a religious faith and become a “tribe”. It’s really as simple as that. So just like the Mongol who could stop on the way out of his yurt to play with his sister’s little kid before mounting up to go slaughter the Polish peasants in the village over the ridge, these folks have convinced themselves that they are not just a tribe, but a threatened tribe in a dangerous, frightful world against which only deadly violence can protect them.

    A lot of this is an ugly combination of human nature – we’ve been tribes for a lot longer than we’ve been nations, or religions, or scientists, or whatever (along with human foibles in general – remember that “average” intelligence means that half the human race is BELOW “average”) – and way too much exposure to electronic media, which thrives on fire and murder.

    I can’t remember what the actual incident was but I do know that it was one of the usual acts of distant violence, maybe an Islamic State attack somewhere, that caused a friend of mine to exclaim about how horrible and violent the world is today. She’s a smart person – “above average” – and so I bothered to talk to her about this.

    “So…had one of those pesky barbarian invasions again last Tuesday, then?”

    “No. What?

    “Didn’t get the massive pandemic this week? No Black Death, no whole-family-wiped-out-by-smallpox, eh?”

    “Wha…what the hell do you mean?”

    “So I take it that your city didn’t fall to the besiegers and you’re not currently being raped before a sort of “bad or worse” outcome of death or slavery? The famine caused by the summer’s crop failure not facing you with a hideously slow death to starvation? The rapacious king hasn’t taken up half your neighborhood in the corvee again?”

    “What the hell does this have to do with (violent act in distant place)?”

    “What it means is that we, we in the First World, really live in an insanely, historically unprecedentedly peaceful world. We are almost impervious to common disease. Medicine and public health have made pandemics hugely rare. Massive volkerwanderungs that caused continent-wide death, such as the mfecane in southern Africa or the Gothic invasions of western Europe or the Mongol incursions into western Eurasia haven’t occurred for centuries. We live, in general, under a rule of settled law; we don’t run the risk of a robber baron in Salem looting and murdering us on I-5 between Portland and Eugene. There ARE still horrible things that happen…but to those of us not able to afford our own mercenary bodyguards they happen less than almost any time in human history.”

    “But…terrorism! School shootings! Urban gangs!”

    “Happen. Yes. But…you’ll note that they happen in little bits and pieces in places all over the world. Remember that until probably two generations ago you would never have heard of those places at all, much less of some awful thing happening in them. Think about it; which of these horrible things happened to someone YOU know, personally. Someplace within, say, three days walk from you?”

    “Ummm…”

    “Thought so. So the world’s NOT “the most dangerous ever”. You just hear MORE of these dangerous things ever, because that’s what the “news” thinks will keep you watching their broadcasts so they can sell more airtime to the marketers of payday lenders and erectile-dysfunction pills. So your very best option is to chillax and have a nice dark ale with a whisky in abeyance and read something thoughtful.”

    Mind you, I don’t think she bought it.

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  9. FDChief said on December 17, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Oh, and congrats on the new gig. Hope it’s both entertaining and lucrative. And if not the latter, at least the former.

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  10. Jakash said on December 18, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Congrats and best of luck, NN!

    “your very best option is to chillax and have a nice dark ale with a whisky in abeyance and read something thoughtful”

    Whomever you were talking to may not have bought it, FDChief, but the whole thing, especially that kicker, makes lots of sense to me…

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  11. Andrea said on December 18, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Congrats on the new gig, Nancy! That is great news,

    Science is starting to document the connections between conservatives and fear. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/calling-truce-political-wars/

    As well as experiment with ways to help people change their perspective. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2017/11/22/at-yale-we-conducted-an-experiment-to-turn-conservatives-into-liberals-the-results-say-a-lot-about-our-political-divisions/?utm_term=.ce52ac03b24d

    Now what do we predict Facebook will do with this knowledge?

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 18, 2017 at 7:07 am

    CRCs have an interesting and proud history; congratulations to you, Nancy, and worth reading up on for anyone (just follow the links she shared).

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  13. Alan Stamm said on December 18, 2017 at 7:21 am

    CRC of Michigan sure is fortunate to snag you, Nancy. Your analytic, storytelling and media relations skills will transfer seamlessly to this new gig, as you already know.

    Happy for you.

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  14. Linda said on December 18, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Good to read a mea culpa from Amy Sullivan. She was always nagging the Dems for not “reaching out” more to religious conservatives, and *just now* realizes the toxicity of the tribe.

    What impresses me, as an old lady, is how fearful conservatives are, and how that fear is not tethered to any type of reality. Forty years ago, the impulse to buy a gun came from a personal experience in a crime ridden era—you got robbed, an acquaintance got their house broken into, etc. Now, people who live in gated communities who are protected from their neighbor having colored window treatments, need not A gun, but several, in vehicles and at home to hold off a crime wave or terrorists predicted by Facebook.

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  15. Alan Stamm said on December 18, 2017 at 7:36 am

    The speculative frenzy over L’Affaire Henderson spills beyond social media, regrettably (and predictably).

    The Daily Caller, a spawn of Tucker Carlson, claims he’s “fired for alleged sexual harassment” — words not used in the fuzzy, lawyerly statements from his ex-employer and its owner. Worse yet, it illustrates the post with stock art of a guy in a suit grabbing a woman’s breast under her blazer.

    Oy.

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  16. alex said on December 18, 2017 at 7:50 am

    What strikes me about this hyperparanoia phenomenon is that it’s not really all that new. I remember when I relocated to the Fort Wayne area from Chicago thirteen years ago and started a new job, I found myself amazed at the pervasiveness of this mindset even then. Specifically, I recall a work luncheon where the subject turned to child abduction. Everyone around the table was talking about how overprotective (not in their own minds, of course) they were with their children because these days things were so much more dangerous. I chimed in that I thought people were watching too many scare stories on TV and tried to bring some perspective to the discussion, but no one was having it. And indeed, it struck me that in my own neighborhood children never played outside or went anywhere by themselves. This is in a semi-rural area where I grew up and the world was our playground. What a shame.

    With time I’ve gained some perspective. Most people are stupid and you can’t argue with stupid.

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  17. adrianne said on December 18, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Fear. It’s what Trump exploited to get elected.

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  18. nancy said on December 18, 2017 at 9:01 am

    I heard from one of my Columbus connections that local billionaire L*x W*xn*r has a bridge over the moat to his house wired with explosives in case he needs to panic-room the whole property. At least that guy has a lot to protect. Still. There’s a package of bills in our state legislature that would allow corporations and others to set up private police forces with arrest powers. I’m so sick of this atmosphere of constant fear-stoking, and I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who tries to sell me anything using it.

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  19. Jim Sweeney said on December 18, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Congrats on the new job!

    I used to cover Lorain, where a city councilman surprised a kid stealing his car stereo. The kid ran and the councilman pursued him down the street, firing wildly. He missed the kid, but did hit several occupied houses. The thief disappeared into a park and when the councilman arrived he opened fire on an exiting car, thinking it was being driven by the thief. It wasn’t. No one was hurt, but the councilman got jail time for shooting up the city. I was stunned by the number of constituents who said he never should have been charged.

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  20. Peter said on December 18, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Congratulations on the new job! Hope it works out well for you.

    There’s that old Jewish joke about the difference between an optimist and pessimist, and I keep thinking about it when I read these comments and the cited articles. 30 years ago, with Jimmy Swaggart and the Bakkers, I thought that they can’t get any crazier than this, and sumbitch, they do get crazier.

    (the joke – the difference between a pessimist and optimist is a pessimist goes around all day saying “it can’t get any worse” and the optimist says “it can get worse”.

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  21. Peter said on December 18, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Oh, and I forgot, re: Jerry Richardson selling the Carolina Panthers – somebody mentioned it would be a hoot if Obama was part of a group that bought the franchise – that would put 45 in orbit.

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  22. Sherri said on December 18, 2017 at 9:58 am

    What Alex said: the paranoia isn’t new. Neither is the conservative evangelical mindset. Maybe it took Amy Sullivan longer to see that her progressive brand of evangelicalism wasn’t as accepted among other evangelicals as she thought, but my experience growing up among conservative evangelicals is that this is how they’ve always been: tribal, anti-intellectual, and deeply fear-driven. Their whole theology is fear-driven. Fox News has amplified it, and has probably taken over some of the authority of the clergy, but it’s not new. The conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention happened in the late 70s, Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority predate Rush Limbaugh, and this is the progression of those steps.

    It just feels like we all live in the South now.

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  23. 4dbirds said on December 18, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Congrats on the new job Nancy.

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  24. Sherri said on December 18, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I forgot, congrats on the new job! Sounds like a good place to be to fight the good fight.

    We had a good weekend down in California attending the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for our godson. We used to live across the street from his family, and we did everything together when the kids were little; his older brothers were a year older and a year younger than my daughter.

    https://www.facebook.com/sherbo.slohcin.9/posts/145507322837302

    (Yes, I finally got a Facebook account)

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  25. Connie said on December 18, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Sherri, you have set it up as a very private facebook account. Followed your link to this: The link you followed may have expired, or the page may only be visible to an audience you’re not in.

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  26. Jeff Borden said on December 18, 2017 at 11:20 am

    If anyone should feel aggrieved, it’s liberal urbanites. The GOP tax bill fucks over high tax/high service cities and states. We’re constantly categorized as elitist assholes who don’t understand the lumpen proletariat. Our communities are depicted as violent wastelands where death sits on every door step and an armored car is necessary to make it to work intact. Our universities and institutions of art, music and higher learning are mocked as antithetical to real America. Our culture of diversity is smeared as political correctness.

    Fuck the evangelicals. I can offer up at least as many instances of insensitivity to my views as they can of theirs.

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  27. Deborah said on December 18, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I remember a segment of evangelicals that I referred to as the brimstone and hellfire crowd who seemed to espouse that if you didn’t believe the way they thought you should you would burn in hell through eternity. It was all about damnation and retribution, no grace or peace was ever evident in their message as far as I could tell. This was prevalent when I was a kid and is obviously still with us today.

    The LCMS split in the 70s too.

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  28. ROGirl said on December 18, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Kudos on the new job.

    Alex, I agree with you about the stupid.

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  29. Deborah said on December 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Congrats on the new job Nancy.

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  30. Sherri said on December 18, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I edited the privacy on that post so you should be able to see it now. You can also friend me; I’m Sherri Nichols.

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  31. Joe Kobiela said on December 18, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Alex,
    How soon after the April Tinnsly murder did you relocate to the Fort, could possibly have been the reason for the fear. A running friend found her body when he was out for a run, the guy was a Vietnam combat vet, he will talk about Vietnam but not about when he found her. The kids in my addition play outside contiuesly, so hopefully the pendulum has swung back the other way.
    Pilot Joe

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  32. nancy said on December 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    That was at least 15 years before Alex moved back.

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  33. beb said on December 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Today is a good day for “Labrat Khaz;” a very bad day of Amtrak.

    The derailment of the first run of a “high speed”(1) rail line is a black eye for our national passenger rail system. People have died and that’s a tragedy. Graffiti artists do it for the publicity. The only photo of the accident shows the overpass which has been tagged by “Labrat Khaz…” Now all the knows that Labrat rulez. I imagine by tomorrow Trump will claim credit for “Labrat.”

    (1) — High speed in this case amounts to 78 mph. Hell, my wife drives faster than that (and has the tickets to prove it). The problem is that the freight company owns the track and may not have improved the trackage for the higher speed passenger line. If we want a world class rail system we;re going to have to national the tracks Amtrak uses so they can be brought to a modern state.

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  34. Bitter Scribe said on December 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Allow me to add my voice to the congratulations.

    Attempts to link “pro-life” sentiments to any humane political position—gun control, bans on capital punishment, initiatives to help poor children—rarely if ever work among the right wing. “Pro-life” is nothing but a way to stick it to women under the guise of shedding a lot of crocodile tears over “the unborn.”

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  35. Joe Kobiela said on December 18, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks Nancy wasn’t sure.
    Glad your again gainfully employed.
    Pilot Joe

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  36. susan said on December 18, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    beb @33 That part of the line was a new route for passenger trains, to take them off the freight mainline where Amtrak usually travels. And to “save 10 minutes” of travel time to Portland from Seattle. This was the inaugural passenger run for that Amtrak train. Amtrak does not own the lines out in the west, the freight companies do, and freight has the right-of-way, often slowing down passenger travel.
    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/train-derails-from-bridge-onto-interstate-5-near-olympia/

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  37. susan said on December 18, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Ah, a real hero!

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  38. Judybusy said on December 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Congratulations on the new job, Nancy! It sounds as if it will use many of your skills and be a good challenge.

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  39. Scout said on December 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Congrats on the new gig, Nancy. I hope it makes the holiday season less stressful knowing you’ll be able to pay off the credit cards in January!

    The title of this post is truth perfection. Historically right wing evangelicals hid behind Jesus to shut down criticism of their views. I think we’re finally to the point where that doesn’t fly any more. They no longer get a ‘religious’ pass when they advocate violence and death to anyone who isn’t part of their crazed worldview. Embracing Judge Pedo Moore showed them for what they are, a dangerous cult.

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  40. Sherri said on December 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    It’s the standard way to report to report travel time improvements (or the opposite), even on roads, but I find it misleading. The new route would save on average 10 minutes, but an average savings of 10 minutes can feel very different depending on how it affects the volatility of the trip time. One of the problems of Amtrak on that route is that you can face extremely long delays, because of the freight problem. An average of 10 minutes may not sound like much, but if it substantially reduces the variability, the train becomes a much more attractive option than driving on I-5.

    I see this disconnect all the time from my perch on the planning commission, when neighbors opposed to a new development simply don’t believe the numbers the traffic study reports, and the traffic engineers just shrug their shoulders and say “data.” I’m still working on finding the right person in the transportation department to talk to about this.

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  41. Jolene said on December 18, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Nancy, you mentioned that you’d taken a part-time job at CRC a week or so ago. Have you been upgraded to full time?

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    • nancy said on December 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      No, it’s part-time. Getting up to speed and launching a couple of new projects will take a while, though, so I’m giving it all my attention for now. Still looking for freelance work to fill in the gaps.

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  42. Rana said on December 18, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    @Jeff Borden – agreed. Somewhere along the way people decided that white rural evangelicals were more “real” Americans than diverse populations of folks living in cities, and we’re still paying the price of that. Where are our gauzy portrait pieces exploring our needs and concerns and insisting that everyone should work hard to understand us, I ask you?

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  43. Jolene said on December 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Last night, Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace were doing a sort of year-in-review show on MSNBC. Wallace is a former staffer from the GWB White House, who also worked on the McCain-Palin campaign. In the Game Change movie on HBO, she was played by Sarah Paulson, and, at least in the film, was driven to distraction by Palin and ended up not voting for the ticket because she could not stand the idea of putting Palin in the White House. She has been, since he announced his candidacy, unalterably opposed to Trump.

    Last night, Williams asked her what it had been like for her as a former Republican to live through this past year, and she replied that it was like “an endless funeral.”

    I feel the same. Every day, it’s another outrage. And not just small things, but huge consequential actions such as the many actions his administration has taken to undermine environmental protection.

    In his speech on his new national security strategy earlier today, Trump began by expressing condolences for those killed in the train derailment and said that this accident shows the need to rebuild infrastructure. OK, but how does that fit with a giant tax cut that deprives the government of revenue? Also said that one of the pillars of his strategy was to increase American influence in the world. How does that square with withdrawing from international agreements. Hard to influence a body you’re not part of.

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  44. Suzanne said on December 18, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    “…but how does that fit with a giant tax cut that deprives the government of revenue?”
    The conservative paradox. They want decent roads, strong military, good police, schools that are world class but don’t want to pay for it. Which, I think, is why they want to privatize everything. Let somebody else pay for it and make money off of it. Except they won’t and they don’t.
    Look what happened in Indiana. The I69 addition was taken over by a private firm and they failed spectacularly. Now, it’s back in state hands and way way way behind schedule.

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  45. Henry Salvia said on December 18, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Fear. Everyone acknowledges and cites it, but no one anywhere I look asks “why”. Why in the world are so many Americans afraid of so many remotely possible threats? I don’t think the dreaded FoxNewsHateRadioMegachurch monster explains why it is so eagerly embraced. The fear is all over Europe as well with return of identitarian/nationalism/fascism. In America its Mexicans, Muslims, UrbanThugs, Gays and “elites”. In Western Europe its Africans, Greeks, Eastern Europeans and the EU. There’s something really fundamental building up and no one is asking why.

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  46. Julie Robinson said on December 18, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Not to mention the Indiana toll road, privatized and money spent years ago, now crumbling as ownership passes from one bankrupt company to the next.

    As a member of the Christian left, I’m scratching my head every time I read the Bible as to how wrong the evangelicals get it. Every other verse is about caring for the lowly and how the rich will be brought down. It’s really very clear. How can they possibly be reading the same book?

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  47. alex said on December 18, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    How can they possibly be reading the same book?

    In the American south, religion was used to justify chattel slavery just as it was used last week in defense of Roy Moore’s pursuit of “purity” when he was trying to seduce teen-aged girls.

    And what if he’d succeeded in using those girls? Well they were whores who shoulda kept their legs together.

    The religious right has pretty much dropped all pretense of religion now that they’ve managed to score the White House, and that’s a good thing because no one should be bumfuzzled into taking them seriously anymore.

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  48. adrianne said on December 19, 2017 at 5:34 am

    There’s a very good article on Politico on Jen Hatmaker, an evangelical Christian who sees how far many of them have gone from the Christian message. Of course, the latest was their backing of Roy Moore, an odious human being and child molester. I would say that’s “tarnished their brand,” to say the least. Here’s a link to the Hatmaker story: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/17/is-jen-hatmaker-the-conscious-of-evangelical-christianity-216068

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  49. David C. said on December 19, 2017 at 6:23 am

    In the best Christian tradition, Jen Hatmaker is getting death threats. As the good book says “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, blow the bastard away with your AR-15.”

    https://crooksandliars.com/2017/12/christian-leader-expressing-anti-trump

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  50. Peter said on December 19, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Rana – that “somewhere” along the way when people decided that white rural evangelicals were more “real” Americans was a little before the Revolution – there has always been a mistrust and hatred of cities.

    Part of the problem is that if you want upward mobility, you have to move to a city. Live off the grid all you want, but there’s a reason people live in cities. The rural way of life that they worship has been gone for decades, and it’s not coming back.

    I can see why they’re pissed, but electing Trump wasn’t the solution.

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  51. ROGirl said on December 19, 2017 at 9:19 am

    But when you need a Jew lawyer, the city is the place to find one.

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  52. alex said on December 19, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Or a Paki proctologist.

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  53. Suzanne said on December 19, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Peter @ 50, I completely agree. I understand the anger of Trump voters but I cannot understand why in the world they think he will do anything to help them. Theirs is a world he doesn’t understand nor does he want to. They are being used, bigly, and are too naïve or deluded to get it.

    Again, my mind returns to those in line to sip a poison laced drink singing the praises of Jim Jones and being thankful for the honor of serving him. True Trump supporters seem cut out of the same cloth. It’s more than stupidity, but what it is, I’m not sure.

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  54. Jeff Borden said on December 19, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I always address the fear issue when teaching public speaking. If not for fear, our species wouldn’t have survived. “Fight or flight” remains wired into our DNA. That said, what is astonishing to me are the things we fear. We are scared of ISIS, when we’re most likely being stalked by heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia. We are scared of faceless killers, when we’re more likely to die in a traffic accident or a fall in the bathroom. (I was almost mowed down in the intersection a block from our house Sunday by a woman in a BMW who missed me by a couple of inches as she turned left in front of me, distracted by her cellphone. Distracted drivers kill more Americans than terrorists.) And many of us –maybe most– fear snakes, spiders, reptiles, even though most of us have never had a negative encounter with those creatures.

    The key to life is prioritizing your fears. Worry less about Muslim terrorists, more about your caloric intake, your level of exercise, etc.

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  55. ROGirl said on December 19, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Existential threats are by definition scarier than the fear of getting run over by a distracted driver. For the record, I have been in 2 accidents caused by distracted drivers, but I still have to drive every day. Propaganda is very effective in whipping up the gullible, no matter what corner of the world they are from.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 19, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Alex and Julie, just remember that the problem is always traceable back to Sodom and sodomy.

    Of course, I refer to Ezekiel 16:49 – “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

    It’s in the Book.

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  57. alex said on December 19, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    The son of a Lubavitcher rabbi once propositioned me. He told me that God’s okay with gay sex just so long as it’s not butt sex. Evidently Christians aren’t the only ones taking the wrong message from Ezekiel.

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  58. Icarus said on December 19, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    what is the correct way to say this…there has been an uptick in the number of carjackings reported in the local news here in Chicago. I know that statistically the odds of me getting car jacked are relatively small, but the thought of someone trying it with my twin douche nuggets in their car seats does give me pause. Not enough to get a gun or go concealed carry but enough to be a little more alert whereas before I might have been less concerned.

    FYI we we talking about Echos the other day….the cynic in me has noticed that they are suspiciously coming down in price the closer Christmas comes. But I”m not paranoid or anything.

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  59. alex said on December 19, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    “Fundament” was a 13th-century English word for buttocks and anus. Which would explain where fundamentalism comes from.

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  60. Scout said on December 19, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Thread win, aisle 59.

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  61. Mark P said on December 19, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Agree scout. But now fundamentalists are giving anuses a bad name.

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  62. Peter said on December 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Scout: I disagree. Icarus #58: “twin douche nuggets” for the win!!!!

    Although twin douche nuggets sounds like a special at Wendy’s…

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  63. Deborah said on December 19, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    One doesn’t often see the plural of anus in print.

    Can I just say here and now, that I enjoy this blog and comments so much. You guys all make my life a little sweeter. Thanks for that, especially to Nancy for making this all possible.

    I’m enjoying my time in NM, we’re in Santa Fe today and tonight but we go back to Abiquiu for a few days until Christmas Eve, then back to Santa Fe and back to Abiquiu on Christmas Day for a few days after that. It’s back and forth 3 nights in Abiquiu and 1 night in Santa Fe to shower and do laundry, stock up on food etc.

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  64. LAMary said on December 19, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    One of the people I used to work with who described herself as a non denominational Evangelical used to drive about three miles out of her way on her trips to and from work to avoid the area around the light rail station because she was sure someone there would carjack her and grab her. She was also afraid of pretty much everyone she saw on the street in Paris because she they would grab her.

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