Good Friday to you.
Good Friday to All
Good Friday to you.
A college psychology professor's observations about public policy, mental health, sexual identity, and religious issues
Good Friday to you.
Evangelicals have been a big puzzle since Donald Trump has come on the scene. Why would these moral crusaders fall behind a womanizer who bragged about sexual assault? A new study from sociologists Andrew Whitehead, Joseph Baker and Samuel Perry in a recent edition of the Sociology of Religion journal provides some answers.
The study, which is also summarized by the authors in Monday’s Washington Post, points to a belief in core tenets of Christian nationalism as a major factor associated with Trump support. To assess Christian nationalism, the authors asked participants in the Baylor Religion Survey the following questions:
“The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation,”
“The federal government should advocate Christian values,”
“The federal government should enforce strict separation of church and state” (reverse coded),
“The federal government should allow the display of religious symbols in public spaces,”
“The success of the United States is part of God’s plan,” and
“The federal government should allow prayer in public schools.”
The authors found that the more a person believed America is or should be a Christian nation, the more likely that person was to vote for Trump. This was true across party affiliation. The image below taken from the study demonstrates that Democrats with Christian nationalist beliefs were three times more likely to vote for Trump than Democrats who didn’t have those beliefs.
Item five above is one which can be interpreted without a Christian nationalist meaning. Christians of many stripes see God as having a general plan which includes the success and failure of nations in it. One need not see America as having a special plan to endorse this item. Otherwise, I think the items assess important components of Christian nationalist beliefs about church and state.
In short, the more you buy into David Barton’s way of looking at history, the more likely you are to be a Trump supporter. Christian nationalist voters reason that Trump will move America toward their vision of a Christian America even if he isn’t personally devout. Once upon a time, Christian leaders told us that character counts in leaders. Now, power is what matters. Trump voters want policies in place which will coerce a Christian consensus — make America Christian again.*
The authors also found that anti-Muslim sentiment related to Trump support. Christian nationalists, such as David Barton, have demonized Islam beyond the historical record and at least one Christian “religious liberty” group denies religion status to Islam.
After reading this study, I feel on the side of the angels by fact checking Christian nationalists historical claims (e.g., Getting Jefferson Right). Christian scholars have a special responsibility to present the facts and withstand the pressure from Christian leaders to corroborate a false Christian nationalist narrative.
*The title of the Sociology of Religion article is “Make America Christian Again: Christian Nationalism and Voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.”
Does Christianity Need Donald Trump’s Help?
A comment on Gospel for Asia’s Facebook page about K.P. Yohannan’s participation at the Surajkund “Happiness is a Journey” spiritual retreat
with the masters brought a quick response from Gospel for Asia and K.P. Yohannan (see my prior post for background). The commenter wanted to know why Yohannan was participating in a retreat with Sufi and Hindu masters for the purpose of making self the most important person in one’s life. GFA replied:
Hi Daniel – thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’d like to provide some more information in answer to your question. K.P. Yohannan has been given the amazing opportunity to speak at an event where no person who has a worldview based in scripture has ever been invited to share before.
It is an intellectual event that is put on by the Times of India (one of the largest Indian English newspapers). K.P. has been contributing for a little while now as a writer to Speaking Tree, which is the online publication of Times of India. Through his writings, he has been calling attention to environmental issues, women’s empowerment, children’s education, healthcare challenges, etc. and his articles have been greatly appreciated.
And now he has been invited to be a panelist for a retreat program hosted by the Times of India. K.P. will be the only one to represent the scripture based worldview at this significant forum!
K.P. Yohannan shared this when asked about this event, “We are called to love our neighbors. It’s human nature to avoid or even be scared of those that subscribe to a different set of ideas or worldview. But we need to strive to see everyone as Gods creation and God loves all people, for God is love. Jesus went everywhere, met everyone, accepted everyone – never created an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality. Let us follow His example.”
Would you join us in praying for this event and K.P.’s time to share with other with different worldviews?
An intellectual event? The conference is described on the event website as “a life-changing spiritual journey.”
When was the last time you felt elated and not just content? When was the last time you stopped to feel the fresh air brushing against you or took a moment to appreciate nature in all its glory? Chances are that while all this sounds like the perfect fodder to feed our souls, few of us rarely have the time (and the inclination) to build a relationship with the most important person of our life – our own self.
And herein lies the struggle. While we spend a major part of our life aimlessly looking for happiness, seldom do we realise that true happiness lies within us – we only need to look for it. And how do you do that? By giving your body (and your mind) the much-needed rest once in a while and helping it reach an inner zen, one that is full of belonging, happiness and fulfilment.
The Speaking Tree Retreat, Surajkund aims to do just this for you. Come join us as we take you on a life-changing spiritual journey with esteemed masters, who will help you find new meaning to life. Soak in the serenity of your own soul and discover (and feel) happiness like never before!
Yohannan is taking a much different approach to yoga and his fellow masters than he used to. In his best selling book Revolution in World Missions,* Yohannan has harsh language for the religions practiced by his new colleagues.
While settling in, I flipped on the big TV set that dominated the room. What burst on the screen shocked me more than anything I had ever seen in America. There in beautiful color was an attractive woman seated in the lotus position teaching yoga. I watched in horror and amazement as she praised the health benefits of the breathing techniques and other exercises of this Eastern religious practice. What her viewers did not know is that yoga is designed for one purpose only-to open up the mind and body to receive visitations from demon spirits.
Because this American yogi was dressed in a chic Danskin body suit, claimed a Ph.D. degree and was on educational TV, I assume many of the viewers were deceived into believing this was just another harmless exercise show. But those of us born and raised in nations dominated by the power of darkness know that hundreds of Eastern religions are marketing themselves in the United States and Canada under innocuous-even scientific-sounding-brand names.
Few Westerners when they see the news reports of poverty, suffering, and violence in Asia, take time to stop and ask why the East is bound into an endless cycle of suffering while Western nations are so blessed.
Secular humanists are quick to reel out many historic and pseudoscientific reasons for the disparity, because they are unwilling to face the truth. But the real reason is simple: The Judeo-Christian heritage of Europe has brought the favor of God, while the false religions have brought the curse of Babylon on other nations.
Mature Christians realize the Bible teaches there are only two religions in this world. There is the worship of the one true God, and there is a false system of demonic alternative invented in ancient Persia. From there, Persian armies and priests spread their faith to India where it took root. Hindu missionaries in turn spread it throughout the rest of Asia. Animism, Buddhism and all other Asian religions have a common heritage in this one religious system. Because many Westerners are unaware of this fact, demonic influences now are able to spread Eastern mysticism in the West through pop culture, rock bands, singers and even university professors. The media have become the new vehicle for the spread of demon worship and idolatry by American gurus. (1998, pp 98-99).
So what is it exactly that is going to happen at Surajkund, Rev. Dr. Yohannan?
*See this post for more on that book.
Today, Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli wrote an op-ed calling on Sovereign Grace Churches to submit to an independent investigation of allegations of covering up past child abuse at associated churches. Here is the gist:
To put it simply: Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC; formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries) and its individual churches and leaders who have been accused of failing to adequately respond to past incidents of child and sexual abuse should submit to a thorough, truly independent investigation.
For years, SGM has been fending off allegations of covering up child abuse. In the last couple of months, SGM has been under renewed pressure due to a sustained confrontation from Rachel Denhollander (source, source). Denhollander, the first to make public abuse allegations against Olympic gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar, recently made a compelling case on her Facebook page for SGC to launch an independent investigation of the allegations.
Another influence on Galli’s editorializing is a former ministry partner of SGC, Brent Detwiler:
We call for a fresh and thorough independent investigation not because we believe SGC guilty of every one of its critics’ charges. We are as bewildered as anyone and simply don’t have enough information to make a confident judgment on the matter. We see, however, that SGC and some of its individual congregations—and pastor C. J. Mahaney (founder and former president) in particular—are under a cloud of suspicion. A former ministry partner of Mahaney turned critic, Brent Detwiler, has been chronicling the controversy for many years and claims that 100 pastors, 300 small group leaders, 40 churches (including his own), and 12,000 members have left SGC churches largely over what they claim has been abusive and deceitful leadership.
SGC has already responded to the op-ed. CT gave the denomination a heads up earlier this week which allowed SGC leaders to craft a response for their website. The full response is also below:
Recent public statements have called for Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) to undergo an “independent third-party investigation” of our history and current practices to determine if sexual abuse is being covered up and abusers protected in our churches.
We believe it is the Church’s obligation to lead in any realm related to justice for or protection of any child who has been harmed. Our difficulty is this: the most specific accusations involve allegations made in a civil lawsuit filed in 2012 involving two churches that are no longer part of Sovereign Grace. As to those two churches, we have no authority, no right to their pastoral records, and no access to their internal reports. We, therefore, have neither the right nor the ability to agree to, require, or conduct an investigation of these churches. One of those churches has already performed its own third-party investigation, but SGC has no access to that report or details from that investigation.
Secondly, SGC is a denomination consisting of 72 churches, each of which is individually constituted and governed by its own board of elders. While there is a specific process by which a charge may be submitted against an elder by any current or former SGC church member, SGC leadership has no authority to mandate an investigation by an outside authority upon all of our churches. We are therefore unable to authorize an independent third-party investigation of SGC and its churches.
Clearly any specific allegations of child sexual abuse should be reported to criminal and child protection authorities, regardless of the passage of time. We recognize the critical importance of treating child sexual abuse seriously and its victims with compassion. To this end, SGC has taken specific steps in recent years to better understand and address the risk of child sexual abuse. Since 2014, we have provided the MinistrySafe child safety system to SGC churches free of cost, including training, screening forms, policies, and proactive reporting practices.
To ensure that any survivor of child sexual abuse in our churches feels protected and cared for, we have sought ways to further strengthen our practices. We are exploring the involvement of an organization with expertise and objectivity in dealing with issues of abuse to assist our pastors and elders in this regard. This is intended to help ensure that allegations are reported, cases are handled legally and wisely, and abuse survivors are provided proper care. It is our desire and goal to maintain consistency in all SGC churches where child sexual abuse issues are encountered, and, specifically, to provide compassionate care and support to those who have experienced past sexual abuse.
In sum, we desire to walk transparently, to grow in our ability to better address this risk, and to honor Christ in the way we care for those who have experienced abuse.
Sadly, the impasse remains and it is difficult to see how it resolves. Galli ends his op-ed by saying that a fresh investigation is desperately needed for the sake of the victims, the SGC, the integrity of evangelical churches, and the gospel. It is hard to argue with this.
In what might come as a surprise to his loyal American followers, K.P. Yohannan is about to join Hindu and Sufi masters for a three-day retreat where participants can spend $700-1000 each to find their “inner zen.” According to the website advertising the religious confab, participants will learn to “build a relationship with the most important person of our life – our own self.” See the line up of “masters” (click link to see a larger image):
The participants won’t be trekking up to a remote retreat, but rather staying in a nice 5-star resort hotel — Vivana by Taj at Surajkund, just South of New Dehli.
Apparently, Yohannan won’t be one of the keynote speakers but will be a part of one of the panel discussions. Although the retreat appears to be an interfaith event, it doesn’t appear to be about religion. Rather it is about self-fulfillment and happiness. As such, his involvement is a long way from his theme in Revolution in World Missions. There is something unseemly about Yohannan being referred to in the company of “eminent masters” like Sister Shivani, Swami Sukhabodhananda, and Yog Guru Dr. Sarakshit Goswami. At least Goswami earned a doctorate in Yoga. Yohannan’s “Dr.” is honorary but he uses the title anyway.
I doubt one could find anything on a GFA website about donating so that the CEO and founder of GFA could moonlight conducting motivational workshops with gurus from other religions. I also wonder if his fellow masters know how he talks about them and their religions when he is in the U.S.
For a good summary of the expulsion of Gospel for Asia from membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, see this post highlighting documents released by former board member Gayle Erwin.
Gospel for Asia’s RICO lawsuit
Gospel for Asia Told Staff They Could Track Funds but Tells Federal Court They Can’t