Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation Review

How did a libertine who lacks even the most basic knowledge of the Christian faith win 81 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2016? And why have white evangelicals become a presidential reprobate’s staunchest supporters? These are among the questions acclaimed historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez asks in Jesus and John Wayne, which delves beyond facile headlines to explain how white evangelicals have brought us to our fractured political moment. Challenging the commonly held assumption that the “moral majority” backed Donald Trump for purely pragmatic reasons, Du Mez reveals that Donald Trump in fact represents the fulfillment, rather than the betrayal, of white evangelicals’ most deeply held values.

Jesus and John Wayne is a sweeping account of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism, showing how American evangelicals have worked for decades to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism, or in the words of one modern chaplain, with “a spiritual badass.” As Du Mez explains, the key to understanding this transformation is to recognize the role of culture in modern American evangelicalism. Many of today’s evangelicals may not be theologically astute, but they know their VeggieTales, they’ve read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, and they learned about purity before they learned about sex—and they have a silver ring to prove it. Evangelical books, films, music, clothing, and merchandise shape the beliefs of millions. And evangelical popular culture is teeming with muscular heroes—mythical warriors and rugged soldiers, men like Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Mel Gibson, and the Duck Dynasty clan, who assert white masculine power in defense of “Christian America.” Chief among these evangelical legends is John Wayne, an icon of a lost time when men were uncowed by political correctness, unafraid to tell it like it was, and did what needed to be done.

Trump, in other words, is hardly the first flashy celebrity to capture evangelicals’ hearts and minds, nor is he the first strongman to promise evangelicals protection and power. Indeed, the values and viewpoints at the heart of white evangelicalism today—patriarchy, authoritarian rule, aggressive foreign policy, fear of Islam, ambivalence toward #MeToo, and opposition to Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ community—are likely to persist long after Trump leaves office.

A much-needed reexamination, Jesus and John Wayne explains why evangelicals have rallied behind the least-Christian president in American history and how they have transformed their faith in the process, with enduring consequences for all of us.

Title:Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
Edition Language:English

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    Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation Reviews

  • David Wineberg

    Usually I will stay away from books on religion. Everyone’s passions overtake their judgment, facts are few, fleeting and ignored, and no minds are changed in the reading. But the pop culture inters...

  • Jessaka

    A Salty JesusChurch services had just ended, and now I was standing in the hallway waiting to get into the restroom so I could then go home. A woman was standing in front restroom door with a megaphon...

  • Avid

    This was an unsettling read. It stirred me up to read the particulars behind the philosophy of millions of evangelicals. Nothing was particularly new or eye-opening for me, but to read the numerous ex...

  • Gregory Jones

    This is a fantastic book about masculinity and Christianity. As someone who grew up idolizing John Wayne in reruns of his films in the 1980s, this book resonated with me from the title to the last wor...

  • Janel KB

    This is a powerful book! Even though I have read scores of articles on the subject of white evangelical support for Donald Trump, as a child of the movement I still have a hard time understanding how ...

  • Jason Kanz

    I picked up this provocative title on the recommendation of one of my favorite authors, Chuck DeGroat. Dr. Kobes DuMez, a professor at Calvin, writes as a historian tracing the roots of rugged masculi...

  • Caleb

    This important book fills a niche in the historical, theological, and political literature, detailing how (largely white) evangelicals have woven together secular visions of (alleged) masculinity with...

  • Chris S.

    I received this ARC together with a copy of Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, which was apt, as both deal, to an extent, with the harmful aspects of gender politics in modern societies and were both well-resear...

  • John Sherwood

    This book is amazing. As a child of the 90s that grew up close to the evangelical community (with VeggieTales, Adventures in Odyssey, Focus on the Family, and Wild at Heart), much of the Christian cul...

  • Jessica Rodrigues

    Instead of venerating a first century Palestinian who said things like "Blessed are the meek/merciful/peacemakers," American evangelicalism has adopted as its ideal the swaggering, aggressive, thrice-...