The Liberalization of Conservative Evangelicals

By Bill Mefford

There is a coordinated effort by far, right, Christian nationalist organizations called Project Blitz. They are styling themselves after the American Legislative Council, which is responsible for pushing such golden oldies like the Stand Your Ground law which was used to murder an unarmed Trayvon Martin and the “papers please” bill used to racially profile undocumented immigrants in places like Arizona, Alabama, and South Carolina. This is what far, right Christians look to when they want to coordinate their work. Nice.

Project Blitz is now mobilizing state legislators to introduce various model bills to promote Christian theocracy, starting with bills that mandate public schools offer Bible classes. The rise of Project Blitz has come about just in the last few years and they have been emboldened by the man in the White House. We should be aware that bills like placing “In God We Trust” in public spaces and mandating Bible classes in public  schools are just part of their overall playbook to transform the United States into a Christian theocracy. Other bills that the organizers of Project Blitz want state legislators to move forward include legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people and increasing religious exemptions regarding women’s reproductive health. Yep, this is part of they call a “Christian worldview.” Gross.

I am sure we are all used to the constant attempts by far right Christians to conform the United States to their twisted vision of Christian nationalism based on an unbiblical understanding of the Kingdom of God. In fact, in a stunning display in the West Virginia state capital, Republican state legislators set up a display linking Representative Ilhan Omar to the 9/11 attacks. Their idea of creating a Christian theocracy does not just rest on forced indoctrination of their theology, but the degradation of all other beliefs.

Rather than a Kingdom of love and justice for people on the margins of society, they believe that the Kingdom is about forcibly establishing an unholy fusion between church and state. There isn’t a state in the country without at least a handful of state legislators that have combined Christian nationalism with legislative colonialism. Mandating Bible classes is only the latest in a long series of efforts to inch towards Christian dominion.

But what is most fascinating to me about this whole effort and in particular the effort to make Bible classes mandatory in public schools, is that far right Christians have given up on the long-standing belief in the innate power and authority of Scripture. Now they are instead trying to use the state instead of what they used to believe was the work of the church. Instead of the truth liberating us and empowering us to be holy and to work for the justice for all the world, the Bible, in the hands of these far right Christians, will be reduced to a tool of the state for the purposes of control.

The Bible has historically been the source for seeding dreams and imaginations among oppressed and marginalized peoples. These seeds often sprouted into movements for liberation and justice. What will a Bible in the hands of those who forcibly teach it on behalf of the state do but to ensure social and political control? The Bible in the hands of those seeking liberation is wild and unchained, but for those charged with maintaining order, the Bible preserves stasis.

It is stunning to me that evangelicals by and large have so clearly replaced their belief in the authority of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform individuals and ultimately all of society with the belief that social transformation will occur by legislative fiat. Though they have adopted one of the ways in which liberals have been working to change the country and the world through public policy change, they have not adopted the reason why liberals do it, which is not for the purposes of colonialization and building empire, but rather for the liberation of all those crushed by oppression.

As a former evangelical, I have been accused for years by many of my evangelical friends of giving up on the power of God and trying to legislate morality, ethics, and human rights. Now the shoe appears to be on the other foot! Project Blitz organizers have ceased trying to win the world for Christ through relational evangelism, exegetical Bible studies, and Scripturally-based preaching and teaching. Instead, they now want the full force of a fusion between church and state to forcibly indoctrinate your children and mine into sharing beliefs they know they are unable to effectively share anymore. God is dead to them and Caesar is who they look to.

When your ideas are no longer persuasive or transformative on their own, but you need the power of the state to force them on to others, then surely this is a sign of the decreasing power of the evangelical movement. The time for their ideas has come and gone.

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