I also do not feel bad about going through the Bible many times with different teachers..once as a kid then in college with a dyed in the wool Southern Baptist (no drinking no dancing) then with a flame throwing Jesuit ( Jesus as a revolutionary) finally with a professor from Chicago Divinity (Bible as greatest book of Philosophy). So I delight when some bible thumper trys to seduce me to come to his political church to get the good news of Jesus's prosperity gospel (a Muti-level marketing opportunity)I give them the sermon based on Matthew 6. Churches that take their cues from what's popular (Q, stolen elections,Brandon et.al) must know "it is better to pray to the Lord from your own closet than to be vain hypocrites in public". A closet Christian I remain.

Expand full comment

I read Tim Alberta's piece and your article--both so very (unfortunately) true. The part that hit home the most was when someone asked how many churches this is affecting, the reply was 100%. And in my experience over the past several years this is true. If you would have asked me pre-Trump and pre-Covid if all the people I attend church with were similar to me--I would have said definitely! I would have thought that on all the major things of life we had similar perspectives. And then came Donald Trump, and Covid restrictions and it was like a slow motion nightmare of revelation that some (although certainly not the majority) of the people that I had known and worshipped with for 20 years had profoundly different views of the world. Its been infuriating, humbling, chaotic and just plain sad.

Expand full comment

Like you, I once was proud to identify as an evangelical Christian... but now mindless Bible literalists who, ironically, seem to ignore the words of Jesus, have corrupted the category. Just found your site... I'd think you'd enjoy my books, "A God Beyond Belief: Reclaiming Faith in a Quantum Age," and "End of the World Propheteers: Exposing the Truth about Apocalyptic Predictions and the Blood Moon Scam" (which takes on many of the false "prophets" like Hagee and his greedy ilk).

Expand full comment

Way to Go ! The carney-barker spews vitriol again. Well done Matt and Tim.

Expand full comment

I have to say, the subject of Tim Alberta’s article showing up in the comments has momentarily shaken my disbelief. If there is no God, how exactly did this delightful turn of events occur? Random chance? Just molecules in motion playing out their deterministic course? I will ponder this mystery and report back.

Expand full comment

Hello Matt. I’m the carney-barking-in-chief Dr. Bill Bolin. I’m surprised that you didn’t call me a money-grubbing sort, as you would have put me in the same category that you occupy. After all, I had to pay for one of your subscriptions to respond to your false allegations and distortions taken from Tim Alberta’s article that articulates his angst growing up evangelical.

I’m assuming that you didn’t read the entire article. I also assume that you have never visited FloodGate, the church I pastor, as you don’t seem to have a clue about our approach to the faith. My other guess is that you have never watched a online service of our church.

I know you didn’t do your own research or you would have known that we didn’t just hold service on Resurrection Sunday 2020. We actually never shutdown. Not a single Sunday during the entire pandemic. Not one.

If you had conducted proper research you would have found out that our refusal to shutdown actually led to a revision in the executive orders that were issued with the first order including churches and ministries in the fine, penalty and possible imprisonment as a non-essential into a exempted status from fine, penalty or imprisonment.

You would also have found out that I am not just a pastor. I am also a appointed Commissioner with MetroPark’s. That’s right. I actually serve our community of Detroit and it’s environment in a meaningful political post.

And if you had conducted just the slightest modicum of research, you would have known that each Sunday’s sermon is devoted to Scriptural exposition.

The sermon is not called a “diatribe.”

What you are addressing is a address I have made on a fairly regular basis for over two years that has focused on sars-COV-2 research, implications of government enforced lockdowns, government overreach, dealing with fear and other assorted social issues that are concerns for most Americans.

I have called the 5-10 minute discussion or diatribe Headline News Now. The headlines are taken from assorted news agencies and address current trends and issues. Sometimes I call that a personal diatribe, or a rant, or a discussion. It is somewhat akin to what you are attempting to do with a major exception: I read the articles and don’t lazily look for an inflammatory statement to illicit a tingle of vacuous proportions that are similar to a Black Hole, empty and void of substance.

Why don’t you try attending FloodGate or at least watching a service or two, something Tim actually did before commenting on his convoluted feelings about what he perceives as dangerous trends in Evangelical Christianity. If you were to do so, I would happily engage with you in a rigorous debate about faith, politics, Evangelism or whatever

I don’t have the same hangups about evangelicalism as either you or Tim, as I didn’t grow up in the church. My perspective is different than either of you as my conversation to Christianity eventually led to a much more conservative approach to life and faith.

Matt, know that I will be praying for you and your disassociation from your faith. Peace out, Pastor Bill.

Expand full comment

How do we get back to the Separation of Church and State?

Expand full comment
May 17, 2022·edited May 18, 2022

Great bit of writing again, Matt. As someone who grew up a dyed in the wool Baptist, and whose family considered attending Billy Graham crusades a valid form of family entertainment, I was deeply disturbed by the original Atlantic article when it was published. So much of modern American Christianity seems to have sold it's collective soul to the devil for the popularity and influence it never had as a cultural force. I liked us better when we were the ones on the cross, rather than now, when (many of us) are the ones swinging the hammer.

Expand full comment

Brilliant piece. I’ll never understand how those claiming to be Christians are unable to see through “Two Corinthians,” or how the Golden Rule and and concept of not being a dick is so elusive. Painful to watch with many I care about, as a recovering Catholic.

Expand full comment
May 17, 2022·edited May 17, 2022

What's fascinating to me is that the label "Evangelical" is far more a political label these days than a religious one. Thanks to His Orangeness, many of his supporters now call themselves "evangelical" and yet do not bother to go to church regularly. (I mean as the devotees of a leader who said "Two Corinthians" was his favorite book in the Bible, it's not all that surprising.)

This past Sunday the lectionary reading was Acts 11:1-18 which is a pretty famous divide in the early church. The issue at the time was was "are Gentiles allowed to be followers of Christ?" Well, it took a while for the church to decide it was ok (see, for example, the many exhortations of Paul to his churches about permitting Gentiles to participate in the community of believers.)

So division in the church isn't a new issue, but what feels novel to me is that we have two large populations of people who use the same language and words even but the meaning of what they say are different.

As a person who was formerly affiliated with a church loosely in the orbit of the Southern Baptists, I am sort of glad (as awful as it sounds) that COVID shut down regular church. I think there is a case to be made that Our Public Health Experts (ob James Taranto: What would we do without experts?) were heavy handed and rather less understanding of human affordances - but I do wonder how many more dead would be tallied if the Moonbat Wing of the Conspiracy Right had their way about pandemic policies.

Edit to add: The Alberta piece is vital reading. Well worth 30 minutes of your day to read in full.

Expand full comment

Alberta thing superb. Made me grateful I do not have skin in this game.

Expand full comment

Great piece Matt, as always.

And yes, all very sad, although not surprising. We saw some of the substance of mainstream Protestantism dissolve away in the twentieth century as factions within certain denominations radicalized, moved left (and in some cases, far left) socio-politically, embraced heretical ideas, etc. What would protect evangelical communities from falling into the same traps, albeit in the other direction?

And that's it: politics and heresy. Many of the churches and leaders who, say, would have condemned a John Shelby Spong or a James Pike generations ago for heresy are toeing a heretical line at times too, getting pretty darn close to naming their own prophets and minor league messiahs. And yes, the language used by people like Dobson, or Hagee, or Falwell Jr. (who just admitted to not even really being a believer, right?) in reference to certain politicians has gotten, well, pretty messianic over the past few years.

Ugh. "Preparing for Adolescence." At least your dad just made you read it. My dad read it to me, and as he's a physician, he had no problem going in-depth on a lot of the biology covered too. Fun times.

Expand full comment

I too read this piece. Disclaimer - I am a southern baptist preachers kid and grandkid. The radicalization of evangelical christians was going on long before Trump came to office. I have, for over a decade now, tried to explain to my father what I saw as 'purity' tests that applied to some but not to others. Some things happen in an imperfect world that are random and are not consequences of the person's behavior or a judgement of god. Examples would be hurricane Katrina's devastation to New Orleans, a global pandemic of COVID-19, going grocery shopping in Buffalo, NY, etc. I have many, many times in many, many ways tried to show him by many, many examples that he has been radicalized and is pushing people away, 2 of his own daughters as well as their children. He thinks that proves that he is on the right path because jesus said he wasn't bringing peace but a sword to families.

I think those evangelicals are the ones tested and have been found depraved, immoral, destitute. They seem more like the Pharisees that we were warned about. While reading about Mr. Bolin, my first thought was jesus pushing over the money tables and saying you have made my temple a den of thieves. He became popular for a stance which put people in life and death danger about masks during a global pandemic and that stroked his ego. His 'church' is just ego stroking for all involved.

Many christians that I have known for over 20 years tell me that I am 'listening to the world' and that I am being 'deceived by the devil'. However, I have told them that I am going against the popular and 'mainstream' evangelical dogma that is not christ centered but trump centered. I didn't leave the church, the church left me. I served for over 25 years on their worship team, in their Sunday Schools and AWANAs and because I wouldn't support the Tea party movement first and then the holy grail, Trump, then I was no longer a christian in good standing.

I discern that this movement is not of anything holy but disgusting and evil. I discern that America has bastardized jesus as a white republican and that is neither accurate nor genuine. I have been cast out but I have good company.

Expand full comment

Glorious - many thanks Matt - recently subscribed to your Slack and am gratified and enlarged by your truth telling, however difficult it is to share. I am blessed that my church in CT does not suffer outwardly these pressures, but I know they exist underneath our apparent harmony. As a newcomer to the Way of Jesus Christ but with 68 years of life experience behind me, I’m finding this internal Christian conflict disheartening but also convicting of the truths of Scripture. The Evil one is everywhere seeking the opening to our souls. He is reveling in what is going on and while we don’t have CS Lewis to inform our fight against it, with the likes of you, Alberta and my all time favs David French and Russell Moore we have a chance to rescue our faith from the clutches of Satan and idolatry.

Expand full comment

As hard as it is for me to relate to an upbringing in the evangelical faith or as a Southern Baptist, I can relate to all my friends who shared your upbringing, As a non-Christian I grew up respectful of all religions and loving the idea of Christ and the centerpiece of his being.....love......My mind goes back to Jerry Falwell and the Tea Part falling in love with each other and deciding that there was money to be made and power to be gotten from combining politics and religion.....not for the first time for sure. It crushes my soul to see so many rush to partake in all the ugly and unloving and hateful sermons coming under the guise of being a "good Christian". Bless your son and his search for Christian music...always a treat.

Expand full comment
May 16, 2022·edited May 16, 2022

With apologies to all Christians who leave their politics in the parking lot during Sunday services and who expect their church leaders and the guy in the pulpit to do the same...

Regarding good ol' Pastor Bill preachin' the Gospel down there at FloodGate in Brighton, not too awful far from my neck of the woods: that boy should seriously consider taking a page from the book of another pastor (I ain't talking about his Good Book, though I'm sure he keeps one around somewhere) who's been spreadin' the Good News over Pa. way for a while now...Pastor Sean, a true believer and devout follower of Christ and his teachings if ever there was one, and the holder of a Ma. of Divinity from no less a paragon of religious thought and learnin' than - you guessed it - Harvard. Pastor Sean has yet to gain quite the reputation and respect of his late father, who was a Rev. of some note himself. But he's workin' darned hard at it.

All Pastor Bill needs to do is checkout www.rodofironministries.org/about to see that he's missing out on a golden opportunity to minister to a much larger flock, what with Michigan not only being some pretty Trumpy country in general but also a little hot bed of citizen militia membership / activity (near the top of the top 5 states in the Midwest, second only to my home state down there in the Bluegrass, where in addition to fast horses and good bourbon, now hi-tech shootin' irons seem pretty much the order of the day). I mean if you're gonna' go in for a dime on the populist politics and MAGA dogma of Conservativism Inc., might as well be in for a dollar, no? And this *Gospel* generates more than a few of those.

Imagine all the additional Good Works Pastor Bill could engage in and how much more widely he could spread the word of Christ if he had just a bit more of that good ol'... oh, what's that word I'm lookin' for here? Oh yeah. Lucre.

Expand full comment