Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 13 seconds.
In the Moral Ethic I am describing, man’s obligation is in the straight and narrow; his duty is not so much to the world in a broad sense but to those within the actual, physical walls of the church about him, and the idea that of backsliding from it—of leaving it, or active rebellion against it—is condemned as sin. In practice, those who most eagerly subscribe to the Moral Ethic worry very little over the long-range problems of global society. It is not that they don’t care but rather that the ideals of evangelicalism and morality coincide, and on such matters as social welfare, equality, liberty, and justice for all they give their proxy to the church.
It is possible that I am attaching too much weight to what, after all, is something of a mythology. Those more optimistic and intellectual than I have argued that this faith is betrayed by reality and science in many respects. And they hope that because the church cannot long hide (from the white evangelical man) that truth is provable and that all people are created equal—eventually he will see the error of his ways.
Meanwhile, the evangelical world and its uneasy alliance with Catholicism, Mormonism, Fox News, nationalists, the alt-right, Republicans, and Trump grinds on. And though it can never produce the peace of mind it seems to offer (consider frequent usage of the word “unfair,” and “fear” and “wretch,” the hidden and rampant abuse of children and women, and complicity of an increasing and perplexing obeisance to Russia), this sect will continue to help shape the nature of politics for the next few years.
The Moral Ethic; call it mythology if you will, but is continues to dominate society. This is the new America, the cloistered evangelical churches and universities that have become the dormitories and breeding grounds for the next generation of evangelical white men. They are not typical American communities, in fact, they are now one of the minority groups in America, but because mega-churches such as First Baptist Dallas and New Destiny Christian Center, para-church organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and ACLJ, and universities such as Liberty and Regent University indoctrinate such a cross-section of young evangelical people—we can see in bolder relief than elsewhere the kind of homogenous world the evangelical man wants and is bringing about.
Their religious life, their demographics, their politics, and the way they paradoxically oppose the Constitutional Ethic of liberty and justice for all reveal the uniformity they desire for the world. Those who look different than the white evangelicals and those who believe different are sinful and bound for eternal damnation. They are to be controlled and subdued no matter the cost. And if it demands the assertion that our white gentile god called and anointed Trump to be his dubious instrument, so be it.
Please hear me. I do not wish to equate all white evangelical males with this Moral Ethic. There are a few courageous ones—the evangelicals call them backsliders—who believe deeply that their work will restore and reform, rather than destroy and condemn, the Constitutional Ethic. These backsliders (some call them exvangelicals) have ideas that are in sync with the needs of the times.
We have quite enough problems today without misplaced and dogmatic religion. Whether or not our own era is worse than former ones in the climate of freedom and justice for all is a matter that can be left to later historians. But for the purposes of this essay, I write with the optimistic premise that unity within diversity is as possible in our times as in others. I applaud the liberty, rights, and independent action of these sentient human beings.
I contend that we “backslidden” individuals should challenge the white evangelical male collective. But not self-destructively. We can tell the church to go to hell, but many of us still have to live among the privileged entitlement of a white male America. We must circumspectly persevere and somehow break the chains of internal and external institutional life.
The Moral Ethic tide has swung far enough. We are not hapless beings caught in the grip of forces we can do little about. Evangelicalism has been made by man; it can be changed by man. There are only a few times in life when we can wield destiny in our own hands—and if we do not fight now for what we believe is right—for the Constitutional Ethic, we will make a surrender that will later come back to mock us and future generations.
But when is that time? Will we know the time when we see it? By what standard are we to judge? If we go against the moral minority are we being courageous—or just stubborn? Helpful—or selfish? Are we, as I so often wonder, right after all?
Yes. with all my being, I believe we are in the right. The time is now. Wars have been fought for less. The American revolution is just one such example. Many of us “backsliders” are now pacifists, and so we wage our ideological war in our neighborhoods, communities, and on social networks. In the public square—both physical and digital. We backsliders resist and choose to break the moral constraints on our free will. We think, we travel, we research, we vote, we write, we dialogue, we debate, and we champion the Constitutional Ethic.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”