Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

Friday, July 23, 2021

What if Roe v Wade is defeated?


Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me;
for of such is the kingdom of heaven - Jesus, Matthew 19.14

What if Roe v Wade is defeated?

I don't say much about abortion because I basically agree with both sides. I agree with the sanctity of life but also agree with the sanctity of the womb that it remains a personal decision. I realize people from both sides play around with the the idea of what constitutes life and when. That late-term abortions seem more inhumane than near-term abortions. For me, its not a when but a what. If it's life, then it's life. Life must have a sanctity to it....

I say this knowing that not only new life, but all life, must have a sanctity to it. How we end up treating all forms of after-birth life continues to apall me. BLM lives matter to me as much as LGBTQ+ lives matter to me. Ghetto lives, homeless lives, non-white races, global ethnicities, and religious life matters to me as much as white Christian and non-Christian lifes mean to me.

More simply, "All lives matter"... not just white, blue, or whatever. All lives. And when we do not serve all lives - but only some lives - I have a deep problem with the "half-and-half" ideological attitudes pushing at one thread rather than at the whole garment.


So let me say this another way. Let's assume the "half-and-half" boundary attitude people win out and succeed in overturning Roe v Wade. I wonder if they have thought through the consequences of their victory in just this one area of new lives and what to do with those babies when they are given birth?

Sadly, I suspect its all verbiage. The Pro-Lifers wish to preserve life but how do they go about saving those little helpless lives after they are delivered? What plans are they making once they have won?

Perhaps some anti-abortioners wish to place those little lives into the "right kind of homes" to be raised by other Pro-Lifers who feel as they do. But I really don't think they will be able to keep pace with their virtuous alter-egos. There will be too many babies of all colors, backgrounds, and environments to place into ("the right kind of Christian") homes. So that leaves public and religious orphanages and foster care agencies including private homes of all kinds.

But we have a problem right off... I expect to see some very hard consequences to occur if anti-abortion laws win out when overturning Roe v Wade... What are they? Let me share a few thoughts noting that I have no experience with placement agencies but I do have quite a few concerns about new life and what happens to those babies after an unwanted birth...


I tell you this, if-and-when abortion laws are removed, Republicans and evangelical churches need be ready to step up to receive all the unwanted children of society into their families. They will not be able to legislate their way out of this. And if they are planning to organize for the event, it needs to be now... not later.

Why? Because there will be a lot of unwanted kids being birthed... a lot! And I do not think any Christian church, fellowship, agency, or their families really understand what a nightmare this will be to create, maintain, and self-audit themselves (from outside child care agencies) so that public standards of health and welfare are met.

AND, know this... orphanages, foster care, etc, are all ready solutions for abuse, harm, unloving, and uncaring environments for the forgotten, unwanted, and invisible children of society.

These are not solutions in themselves... just as nursing homes must be regularly audited for social health and welfare conditions.

The problem is, many churches I know of do not want the government or public agencies looking over their shoulder. And just as many churches have been found criminal in their conduct towards young people and their faithful congregants seeking to please God in all they do.

Which will be really, really sad... and very little different for most of the helpless unwanted children who were to be aborted because they were unwanted in the first place. To go from a place of not being wanted to another place of not being wanted is the worst thing I can imagine for those babies not qualifying by white (Christian) standards of acceptability.

(And yes, as a white Christian I will be extremely critical of my well-meaning brethren who say they care but in the end may mean nothing more than the air out of their lungs.)

And though joyfully, babies are not being killed under anti-abortion laws, they will also be dying a thousand different ways of death after birth because cause-justifying Christians et al will refuse to adopt the children they are saving. Or create institutions which allow themselves to wipe their hands clean and walk away.

Or, if unaborted babies are adopted, these poor children may readily suffer deep personal and tragic abandonment when times get tough with their adoptive families and they are either mistreated or placed back into the foster care system.


Let's continue to think out loud how anti-abortionist's may wish to go next after their win. I suspect first-and-foremost they will wish to criminalize the pregnant, create fines and fees, seek jail time, and perhaps even suggest unwanted hysterectomies of the pregnant mother.

In the anti-abortionist's mind this may help reduce the numbers of unwanted children through restrictive action for the "social good" of their ideological positions (hopefully excluding the hot hormones of teens and young adults; although I'm sure white prerogatives will take place here as well.)

So now we have entered into the world of the strange and strangely terrifying... where church laws wish to take precedent over public laws of equality and fairness. As a Christian, most church laws I've read of historically have been exactly of this caliber. Unfair, highly subjective, full of hate and judgment, and completely unloving:

Whenever we go to play God we see just how 
fallen from God we have become. - res

So for those white communities who vote for abortions to become non-occurring events, they may then begin to ready themselves to take action in removing the reproductive abilities of unwanted rapes of women who will suffer under male-dominated societies... especially church societies whose ecclesiastical structures are wrapped around patriarchal power paradigms and relationships.

Again, from my perspective, this is highly unfair to the female sex and I would rather point to the male rapists out their to consider their part in the incestuous tryst. Specifically, the white men of all classes - not just the poor, but the rich, the privileged, the clergy, the elder, the deacon, the father of the household, etc. To hold them responsible for their actions rather than the woman.

And in what wretched part of the religious mind would we next find their ginning thoughts?.... exactly. I cannot even write down such cruel speculations. Which is why charging criminality on either sex's part just gets more ridiculous, harsher, crueller, and hellish.

If this is beginning to sound like an Orwellian World of the religiously-minded then you are beginning to see where we may be going as a society trying to play God on all levels... - res

In the final verdict, as harsh as it sounds, it seems women will suffer more than their male counterparts. And will be made to suffer the loss of their rights rather than the males themselves.

Certainly, such unwarranted action may help reduce the number of unwanted children being born out of wedlock due to rape and incest. But what we're creating are inhuman institutions of human slavery, mocking injustice, deep personal harm, and hardened, seared hearts imputing cruel laws.


While we're at it, and thinking about white males, let's propose to shut down the porn industry so white males have less time interacting in their thoughts about promiscuity, lust, rape, and debasement.

Bear in mind though, looking back historically, the effectiveness of such actions have not worked too well in the past. Consider the bootlegging world of the 20s-40s when prohibition was at its height. The industry never shut down even as good white Christians continued to subsidize it surreptitiously behind closed doors, down dark street allies, and under the counters of local establishments.

I wouldn't expect any different from the porn industry even as I haven't expected any different from the local marijuana trade (I voted to legalize marijuana so that it's overwhelming life consequences of jail, fines, loss of work, etc., would reduce the harm it created on individuals and their families.) Of course, I still support the illegality of drugs including noncertified FDA over-the-counter drugs (usually scripts of questionable viability and frequently containing harming "filler" substances such as chemicals,  metals, poisons, and toxins to the human body).


With the removal of Roe v Wade we may now expect some or all of these action items to occur - from one extreme to another.

For myself, I feel for the children even as I did when they were being aborted. I have no confidence in mankind ever doing the right thing unless it is self-serving in some manner. The more to the shame of our species - whether they are religious or not, Christian or not. 

Like money, its is a rare event to see a Christian use this resource aright regardless how religious they think themselves to be. Similarly with the vestment of our lives into the lives of the vulnerable.

If they are not of the right color, gender, sex, race, or genetic creed, I expect white Christians to extremely fail in their equality of vision for at-risk children. Such dear ones will be storage away, out of sight, out of mind, for many.

And how, I wonder, was this any different than before when those little lives had little expectation for longevity. Now, with birthed life these little ones simply become the unwanted refuse of a hypocritical white church claiming rightness over love and kindness to all, at all stations of their lives.

Further, if succeeding, this new calamity will be handled by the very same white Christians who began it. Who pretended to themselves they are caring for aborted babies when in reality caring for babies will require manning up to the facts that churches and communities will be too easily overwhelmed by the very legalese machinery they are rushing to put in place.

Nor would I expect white Christians to admit to their deep failure in managing what they had hoped to achieve through every  theocentric law and dogmatic organization they willingly advocate. Like Solomon himself, the wise king would have a hard time determining the future of the non-aborted.

I believe it was Jesus who said to the religious crowd - who were reviling him - to look into the planks of their own eyes before judging another. That the spirit of the law cannot be fulfilled by religious dogmas and harsh doctrines. That God's love is greater than all militarisms, unjust legislations, or vindictive decrees. - res

And finally, pity the more, the poor infants growing up unwanted and out-of-sight of the Christian church. Placed so innocently, so zealously, into the terrible worlds of the sincere and sympathetic, hoping to rescue those who at the same time are ignorantly promoting pain in so many of their harming discriminatory doctrines across all levels of society.

I sincerely hope to be proved wrong in all my harsh assessments here put forth. But I doubt if I will be. I leave it to the white Christian churches to prove me wrong as I watch in fine detail all the failures and excuses they will give for not being up to the task they had fought so diligently for....

In my experience, it is easier to destroy than to rebuild. There are many like myself who are rebuilders. But there are many, many more who can only tear down. Again. And again. And again. I call them the destroyers. Destroyers without a plan. Full of fury for fury's sake alone.

And this is why I do not write on such a delicate subject. I cannot find a solution on either side of the argument of Roe v Wade. For myself, I would not overturn it, just as I wouldn't remove helpful parental programs and social agencies. I believe it was Jesus who said, "For the one who is not against us is for us (Mk 9.40 ESV)."

But in not removing Roe v Wade I would wish to continue to make inroads into all forms of societies in America and around the world. To help the despairing mom, the raped woman, the hard-hearted teen couple, the abused, beaten, and unloved. Yet, instituting law for love is a no-win situation. We have our laws, let's use what we've got and make them better.

Blessings to the Remnant of God who are Faithful, Loving and Kind,

R.E. Slater
July 23, 2021

May 17, 2021
How Trump and McConnell set the final pieces for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade

July 22, 2021

Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me
Oct 31, 2013

Luke 18:15-17
15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer [the] little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. 


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Forums for Diversity - The Challenge for Birding Societies Everywhere

June 3, 2021

Corina Newsome is a Black ornithologist, as rare as some of the birds she studies.

When she joined Georgia Audubon last year, the group’s executive director called her hiring a first step to “begin working to break down barriers” so that people from all communities can fully enjoy birding and the outdoors.

But overcoming those barriers will be daunting. As with the wider field of conservation, racism and colonialism are in ornithology’s DNA, indelibly linked to its origin story. The challenge of how to move forward is roiling White ornithologists as they debate whether to change as many as 150 eponyms, names of birds that honor people with connections to slavery and supremacy.

The Bachman’s sparrow, Wallace’s fruit dove and other winged creatures bear the names of men who fought for the Southern cause, stole skulls from Indian graves for pseudoscientific studies that were later debunked, and bought and sold Black people. Some of these men stoked violence and participated in it without consequence.

Even John James Audubon’s name is fraught in a nation embroiled in a racial reckoning. Long the most recognized figure in North American birding for his detailed drawings of the continent’s species, he was also an enslaver who mocked abolitionists working to free Black people. Some of his behavior is so shameful that the 116-year-old National Audubon Society — the country’s premier bird conservation group, with 500 local chapters — hasn’t ruled out changing its name. An oriole, warbler and shearwater all share it.

“I am deeply troubled by the racist actions of John James Audubon and recognize how painful that legacy is for Black, Indigenous and people of color who are part of our staff, volunteers, donors and members,” interim chief executive Elizabeth Gray said in a statement in May. “Although we have begun to address this part of our history, we have a lot more to unpack.”

For Newsome, community engagement manager for Georgia Audubon, the pain is real. When she first wore her organization’s work shirt, “I felt like I was wearing the name of an oppressor,” she said, “the name of someone who enslaved my ancestors.”

She and other ornithologists of color deal with added layers of discomfort while doing research. Alex Troutman, a Black graduate student at Georgia Southern University, says he goes out of his way to smile and wave at every White passerby when he’s in a marsh or field “to appear as least threatening as possible” and ease suspicions that he shouldn’t be there.

Corina Newsome, an ornithologist and community engagement manager for Georgia Audubon, is pushing to make her profession more diverse and inclusive. (Nydia Blas for The Washington Post)
Corina Newsome, an ornithologist and community engagement manager for Georgia Audubon, is pushing to make her profession more diverse and inclusive. (Nydia Blas for The Washington Post)
Ornithologist Olivia Wang, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, says her field’s troubling, racist past must be addressed. (Michelle Mishina for The Washington Post)
Ornithologist Olivia Wang, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, says her field’s troubling, racist past must be addressed. (Michelle Mishina for The Washington Post)

Offensive eponyms compound that sense of not belonging. Despite professional and amateur birding groups’ declared commitment to diversity, only two names have been discarded.

The Townsend’s warbler and the Townsend’s solitaire still invoke John Kirk Townsend, whose journals detail his exploits in traditional Native Americans burial grounds in the West. Townsend, a Philadelphia-born ornithologist in the early 1800s, dug up and collected skulls for studies that sought to prove the inferiority of Indigenous people.

The Wallace’s owlet and five other birds honor Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist, explorer and anthropologist credited, along with Charles Darwin, for conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection. Wallace’s writings frequently used the n-word, including in reference to the “little brown hairy baby” he boasted about caring for after fatally shooting her mother during an 1855 trip to the Malay Archipelago. Some historians believe they were orangutans.

Three birds, including the crimson Jameson’s firefinch, are named after another British naturalist involved in a heinous act committed against a young girl he purchased as “a joke” in 1888 during an expedition in Africa. James Sligo Jameson wrote in his journal that the girl was then given to a group of natives described to him as cannibals. He drew sketches of the child being stabbed and dismembered.

“Conservation has been driven by white patriarchy,” said J. Drew Lanham, a Black ornithologist and professor at Clemson University in South Carolina, “this whole idea of calling something a wilderness after you move people off it or exterminate them and that you get to take ownership.”

Lanham views the issues as part of a much larger historic pattern, one connected to the White enslavers who renamed Africans kidnapped from that continent’s West Coast. “They renamed an entire people” — cancel culture on a global scale, he noted.

In Honolulu, ornithologist Olivia Wang is equally harsh. She regards the honorifics that birds carry with disdain.

“They are a reminder that this field that I work in was primarily developed and shaped by people not like me, who probably would have viewed me as lesser,” said Wang, an Asian American graduate student at the University of Hawaii. “They are also a reminder of how Western ornithology, and natural exploration in general, was often tied to a colonialist mind-set of conquering and exploiting and claiming ownership of things rather than learning from the humans who were already part of the ecosystem and had been living alongside these birds for lifetimes.”

Indeed, White explorers, conservationists and scientists who crossed the world conveniently ignored the fact that birds had been discovered, named and observed by native people for centuries before their arrival.

To the Cherokee, eagles are the awâ'hili and crows are kâgû. The English common name for the chickadee is a butchered translation of the Cherokee name, tsïkïlïlï. Similar-sounding names for other birds that English speakers renamed or mispronounced are scattered throughout East Coast tribes.

Europeans named birds as though they were human possessions, but American Indians regard them differently. The red-tail hawk in some languages is uwes’ la’ oski, a word that translates to “lovesick,” because one of its calls sounded like a person who lost a partner.

“A whole lot of Native people, in thinking about birds, don’t open a book of science. Their book of science is in the knowledge possessed by people in generations before them, the elders,” said Shepard Krech III, a professor emeritus at Brown University and author of “Spirits of the Air.”

Bird lovers have agitated to change eponyms linked to racists for several years but have encountered resistance.

It would cause confusion in the profession and among casual birders, opponents said. Books and ledgers would have to be revised, and people would have to learn new names. Only twice have such objections been overcome and the American Ornithological Society approved a switch. The first was for the oldsquaw, a species of waterfowl now known as the long-tailed duck. And last summer, the McCown’s longspur became the thick-billed longspur — the first time a name with a Confederate past was dropped.

By then, a confrontation in New York City had linked race and birding in an ugly way. In May 2020, Christian Cooper, a Black birder in Central Park, was falsely accused of threatening behavior by a White woman who called police on him after he asked her to leash her dog.

An expedition to Africa in the late 1880s, during which a young girl was cruelly killed, forever stained naturalist James Sligo Jameson's reputation.
An expedition to Africa in the late 1880s, during which a young girl was cruelly killed, forever stained naturalist James Sligo Jameson's reputation. (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
John James Audubon, long the most recognized figure in American birding, is now being reconsidered for his abhorrent views and actions against Black people during the early 1800s. (Bettmann Archive)
John James Audubon, long the most recognized figure in American birding, is now being reconsidered for his abhorrent views and actions against Black people during the early 1800s. (Bettmann Archive)

For the leaders of Audubon, the American Ornithological Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, among other groups, systemic racism had hit home.

At the same time, activists in the ranks were growing more aggressive in opposing the eponyms. One of the loudest voices was that of Jordan Rutter, a White co-founder of Bird Names for Birds. She wanted to upend the society committee that names a species and reconsiders historic names.

“White people are credited for discovering [the birds]. White people were the ones to name the birds after other White people. And White people are still the folks that are perpetuating these names,” Rutter said in a recent interview.

A decade ago, that same committee unanimously refused to rename the Maui parrotbill, criticizing the proposed kiwikiu as “contrived,” ridiculous and hard to pronounce. As part of last year’s awakening, activists sought an actual transcript of the debate but were denied. “I called out the AOS and NACC for censoring some racist and offensive comments the [committee] made when discussing the … proposal,” Wang said, referring to the American Ornithological Society and its North American Classification Committee.

The society has since publicly apologized for those and other insensitive comments.

It is clear that leaders in the profession are listening more closely to the protests — and preparing to act. Audubon and the American Bird Conservancy, where Rutter works, have looked inward at their near-total lack of diversity and vowed to change. The American Ornithological Society pledged to “redoubl[e] our efforts toward making ornithology, birding, and access to the natural world equitable and inclusive.”

This spring, society president Mike Webster announced that the internal group responsible for bird names will now be guided by an advisory committee composed of people of different backgrounds — although 13 of the 17 advisers are White and the ethnicities of the four others have not been identified.

The new panel is “not just because we want to feel good about ourselves,” said Webster, who is White. “We see it [as] critically important to understanding and conserving birds. It’s critically important that we have a diversity of people out there doing it.”

A virtual panel discussion took place in April. Every major birding organization was represented, and 535 people joined from around the country as a majority of the panelists — nearly all of them White — agreed that it was time to move beyond racist eponyms.

Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, stressed that North America lost 3 billion birds over the past 50 years and that saving what’s left will need people of every ethnicity and background to be involved. “The biggest threat birds face … [is] being ignored to death,” he said. “Not enough people know and not enough people care.”

There is no timeline for decisions about the worst eponyms, but the discussion seems unlikely to wane, given participants such as Rutter and Newsome. Within days of the incident in Central Park last year, Newsome helped organize a very public declaration dubbed Black Birders Week — an event that quickly became a viral movement. By happenstance, it took place amid nationwide demonstrations and calls for racial justice following George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

The 28-year-old again took part in this year’s Black Birders Week, which began last weekend. She is encouraged by ornithology’s increasing focus on diversity and racism. She hopes it will soon extend to what the National Audubon Society and its chapters call themselves. “I believe they should both absolutely change the name. It feels wrong to enter African American communities … celebrating [Audubon’s] name,” she said. “It’s a reality I am wrestling with constantly.”

Yet far more progress is needed. Heads still turn when Newsome is in the field, observing birds. “I’m always questioned, in a seemingly friendly way, ‘Oh, what are you doing out here?’ ”

On urban and rural trails, she quickly lifts her binoculars when she sees White people do a double-take. In a scorching Georgia marsh where she slogs through muck to study a seaside sparrow, she shifts heavy equipment to the side of her body that faces the roadway so suspicious White motorists “won’t think I’m doing something illegal and make trouble for me.”

Across the muddy water is the Brunswick neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger, was chased down and fatally shot in February 2020. Three White men have been indicted in the case. Newsome remembers driving past the neighborhood after the killing as she again headed toward the marsh.

“I felt like my soul couldn’t take being there anymore,” she said. “Like a Black person can’t even be what they’re called to be without encountering such violence.”


An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the location of an 1855 expedition by Alfred Russel Wallace as Africa; it was the Malay Archipelago. In addition, some historians believe that the mother and baby Wallace wrote about in demeaning human terms during his trip were orangutans. The story has been corrected.

About this story

Story editing by Susan Levine. Photo editing by Olivier Laurent. Copy editing by Carrie Camillo. Design and development by Leo Dominguez.

Bird photos by iStockphoto/Getty Images.

Darryl Fears is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the national staff who covers environmental justice. Over more than two decades at the Post, he has covered the Interior Department, the Chesapeake Bay, urban affairs and race & demographics. In that role, he helped conceptualize a multiple award-winning project, "Being A Black Man."

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Podcast: The Political Gains and Lost Faith of Evangelical Identity

A Quick Note to those who have struggled
with conservative Christianity

Like LeCrae, I too went through a dark period of "faith" loss when realizing a decade ago  (around 2009) that the faith I held was a distinctly different kind of faith than what my church fellowship and religious identity group was speaking nationwide and interpersonally with one another. But rather than losing Jesus I was lead by the Lord to refind Jesus and to speak this Jesus out louder and clearer than the messaging my church fellowship was giving towards science, religion, and it's political messaging as it tried to drown out authentic Christian faith for the surreal and modernal secularisms it sought to cling too.

Consequently, I was led by the Lord to remove the foundations of conflict from my faith which conservative Christianity had sincerely, but errantly, created, and to replace those seedy foundations with a more rigorous philosophical theology than I once had held. Which had grown old. And out-of-date. And out-of-sync with the pseudo-reality my church fellowship was mistakenly reading into their bibles.

A bible rearranged over time, and through the generations, to speak conservative religious values into, rather than God's loving values wholly at war with evangelical doctrine. A conservative fellowship arguing with a science it never understood but argued against anyway, condemning and denying. And a religious culture which could not settle down and be at ease with black lives, minority groups, ethnic races, or outside religions, all who yearned for the same love and freedom conservative Christians yearned for too (but often could not advocate for those it overlooked and overran in its messaging).

For many church goers steeped in bible study, having avidly ministered for Jesus, and sacrificing much, we have lost our voices to this latest iteration of discordant Christians who do not speak for Jesus but stand in the pulpit saying they do while speaking bile and bull of their fellow sisters and brothers.

I can say, as many have been saying, that we are done with this kind of conservatism and its self-righteous evangelical outlooks. However, we are not done with God, nor with His Son Jesus, nor with His Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Holy Godhead will not let us go. God has determined we wake up and speak out.

We know then where our faith lies - and it does not lie in political identity messaging, nor in the aberrant alt-Christian values which devalues humanity and earthcare, nor in faith hypocrisy, Phariseeism, or dogmatics.

To all my brothers and sisters out there of another color, gender, race, or creed, we feel you. We pray for you. Ane we send our love in Jesus.

R.E. Slater
July 17, 2021

Political masterminds spent decades establishing evangelicals as a powerful conservative voting bloc. But the muddling of politics and faith caused many, including the successful Christian artist Lecrae, to question where they belonged. (Karsten Winegeart / Unsplash)

Podcast: The Political Gains and Lost Faith of Evangelical Identity


Lecrae, a major Christian rapper, found his religion in a culture where evangelicalism and politics were tightly tied. When he realized he couldn’t live with that anymore, the consequences were devastating.

MAY 20, 2021

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Lecrae Moore came up in a Christian culture deeply entwined with politics: Evangelicals were Republicans, and Republicans were evangelicals. As a Black college student, he found a sense of belonging in Bible study. His mentors and community were predominantly white and very conservative, but that didn’t really bother him. He found success as an artist and built a career in the white evangelical world.

Over time, though, he began to notice how much politics influenced his church culture. He was inspired by Barack Obama’s election, but felt unable to share that with his evangelical audiences. He was disturbed by the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, but faced backlash on social media for saying so. He started writing lyrics about race and the hypocrisy he saw among Christians, who he felt paid lip service to diversity but didn’t form substantive relationships with other communities. When he saw how strongly the evangelical world was going to champion Donald Trump, he decided to speak out. He lost money and fans, friends and mentors. And he almost lost his faith.

White evangelicals have arguably never been more powerful as a political force in America than they are now, but political victory has a human cost. People of all kinds of backgrounds have felt gutted by Christian support for Trump. Among Christians, the Trump era’s legacy might be fracture, not unity.

This week on The Experiment: the story of an evangelical artist who found his voice and lost his church.

Further reading: The Unofficial Racism Consultants to the White Evangelical WorldHow Trump Lost an Evangelical StalwartThe Tiny Blond Bible Teacher Taking On the Evangelical Political Machine

Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

This episode was produced by Katherine Wells and Alvin Melathe, with reporting by Emma Green. Editing by Julia Longoria and Emily Botein. Fact-check by William Brennan. Sound design by David Herman. Transcription by Caleb Codding.

Music by Ob (“Mog” and “Wold”), water feature (“richard iii (duke of gloucester”), Keyboard (“My Atelier”), Laundry (“Lawn Feeling”), Norvis Junior (“Overworld 7636” and (“Grim Reapers Groove 94”), and Nelson Bandela (“311 Howard Ave 25 5740” and “Auddi Sun 09 Lop Lop 722”), provided by Tasty Morsels and Nelson Nance. Additional music performed by Lecrae, courtesy of Reach Records, arranged by The Orchard (“Dirty Water” and “Take Me as I Am”). Additional audio from Real Life With Jack HibbsMatthew PhanC-SPANABC News, and Roland S. Martin.

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Ralph Reid Podcast one week earlier on The Atlantic

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For Further reading:

Evangelical Has Lost Its Meaning


A term that once described a vital tradition within
the Christian faith now means something else entirely.

by Alan Jacobs