The Murderous Theology of The Evangelical Alt-Right's #NashvilleStatement

For Ann-Louise and Others I Love and Admire

So, my typical response to something like the Nashville Statement goes roughly like this: “Whatever.”

The truth is, for as long as I can remember the words of the evangelical alt-right have been part of public discourse. My baptist minister grandfather used to complain about them at the Thanksgiving table when I was a child. Their hatred of women, people of color, and the LBGTQ community is deep and strong. These Christians (Let’s not disown them. That’s a false escape.) have leveraged their financial resources to create institutions of higher learning, ecclesial bodies, missionary societies, and entire “alternate economies” like the Christian music industry for centuries in the US. They have purchased congressional seats. They have purchased the executive office. They claim to be the one true church, the American church, or simply have branded themselves “Christians” in order to muscle in on global politics.

Earlier today, I called the Nashville Statement “theological malpractice.” I see now that my language was not strong enough. My friends need me to be strong with them.

Every screed, statement of hatred, and theological resource published in the last two centuries is an expression of their hatred.

I state all the above so you are clear about where I stand on the behavior of these people. Their ideologies and their institutions are poisonous.

Occasionally, someone escapes and becomes an apologist for Oral Roberts University, Liberty, or even Wheaton. Heck, Liberty has some legit scholars on faculty. But, as we have seen from their president’s behavior of late, that’s merely camouflage for what they perceive as their end goal. Jerry Falwell Jr. possesses the “politics of the end times.” He is a purveyor of apocalyptic straight male whiteness. His individual supremacy will result in the coming of God’s own reign and the distruction of every black, brown, liberal, feminine, trans, gay body on the planet. Let’s not pretend that “the school is really not as bad as you think.” That’s part of Falwell’s political maneuvering. The school is to give him legitimacy. But his end game is clear.

I digress.

The Nashville Statement is the most recent installment of the evangelical alt-right’s extensive library of sexual and racial hatred. It is not a statement of love. It is not an encouragement from above. As far as theologies of human sexuality go, such statements are a blight on the theological landscape of Christianity.

Earlier today, I called the Nashville Statement “theological malpractice.” I see now that my language was not strong enough. My friends need me to be strong with them.

I offer my statement because my friends need me to.

My prayer is that none of this is new coming from me. My hope is that you read this and you say, “of course this is what Tripp thinks.” If it is, however, revelatory in someway. If you never imagined I felt or believed the way that I do, then I have failed to communicate myself with clarity.

I will not make that mistake again.

The evangelical alt-right seeks to cast the Triune God of Love in the singularity of their own image. This is only possible if they also eradicate people who do not look like them, if they dismantle any society that does not privilege them. This is not love. It is, rather, the hatred called idolatry. We must fight this ideology at every turn. And though Harvey Cox claims these communities are in their death throes, little is more dangerous than someone with their back against a wall…to themselves and others.

I do not believe that Twitter or Facebook are anything more than avenues to vent my own frustration. Occasionally something escapes the echo chamber of my social media feed and perhaps the mind is opened or changed or at least enraged. But it is been so long since I’ve been trolled by anybody other than my conservative uncle, that I highly doubt it.

Nevertheless, I want to make my opinions known. I want my friends and loved ones to know that I am with them. That I am against the conservative evangelical alt-right political machine that holds such ideological power in our country. With every bone in my body I have been fighting these people for as long as I can remember. It is easy in my place of privilege for me to assume that my positions on these matters are obvious.

It is also easy to assume that as a cis gender white guy who has been inhabiting progressive religious spaces his whole religious life that I am not in danger from these people. That attitude could not be further from the truth.

Fellow straight white guys, let’s be clear. For the evangelical alt-right, people of color and the LBGTQI community are simply low-hanging fruit. Women present a greater challenge. Other straight white man who also embody America’s patriarchy, present yet another threat upon their puritanical ideology. If they could get to us as easily as they get to everybody else, they would. If they could issue a statement calling for our eradication from public life, they would. Instead, they establish Jim Crow in their churches. They create summer camps to reprogram their children. And when people of color are killed or their queer children take their own lives, they bow their heads in feigned sadness, in the false piety of their religiosity, and they thank God that they are not like “those people.”

“But, God’s will be done.”

I don’t know if this post will make a difference. I don’t know if making my understanding clear will make a difference.

But here it is. One straight white guy’s voice in the cacophony of all the voices on the Internet.

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

I endeavor to love all because Christ compels me to do so. Yes, even the conservative alt-right. But I must also place myself between them and those who they endanger with their theology and their politics.

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