Virginia’s religious left | The American Conservative


Woke up evangelicals and their strange bedfellows

Protesters surround police headquarters to protest the police brutality and the murder of George Floyd. They called for the dismissal of the police officers who were involved in the escape of several protesters the night before, on June 14, 2020 in Richmond. United States. (Photo by Eze Amos / Getty Images)

Last week it was announced that Jemar Tisby, one of the biggest names in progressive evangelicalism, is joining the Ibram Kendi Anti-Racism Center at Boston University. Many Protestant churches in recent years have begun reading Tisby’s books to understand the nation’s racist reckoning, and while political conservatives might see it as a worrying Christian surrender to left-wing cultural politics, the opposite is more likely: a theological sheen on them .

The spread of progressive evangelicalism is one of the most important developments in the American religious landscape today. The denominations where it turns out to be the most controversial are to the right of the main lines because the main lines are already there suborned for 80 years. But things are heating up at the Southern Baptist Convention, ACNA, and the PCA. In each of them there is a new generation of clergy and lay people, often supported by the great progressive foundations, who throw the phrase “prophetic testimony” around a lot, though unlike the Old Testament prophets they are very much in tune with the spirit of that Age.

These new progressive theologians shaped Virginia most of all, and many are from our title university, whose foundations were formerly administered by the hedge funder who bought out state lawmakers for Warren Buffett in the name of “environmental justice”. The conquest of Virginia since the collapse of the state’s Republican Party has been so complete that it seems like the bigger battles of our upcoming third reconstruction will be taking place elsewhere, Georgia or maybe Texas, but our new UVA clergy is here, to make sense of things for us.

Pastor Greg Thompson, for example, received his Ph.D. there and now is the front defender critical racial theory in the PCA. Late last year, Rod panned Rod Dreher’s latest book, accusing him of having a “Cold War fantasy” like Thompson did as a child. The review begins with Thompson exploring an air raid shelter as a child, illustrating the all-encompassing paranoia of an adolescent who has lived in the shadow of Armageddon. The only problem is that it happens in 1985, the year Gorbachev came to power and the threat of nuclear war was relatively low.

There’s a lesson here, just not what Thompson thinks. The left’s feel for racial struggle today is analogous to someone hiding underground from a Soviet first strike while people bring sledgehammers to the Berlin Wall. Forty-four percent According to liberals, more than a thousand unarmed blacks are killed by the police every year. You overestimate the problem by two orders of magnitude. But we follow the scripts that come to mind, and in the case of left-wing evangelicals, it’s the script of the civil rights movement.

One difference between them and the actual civil rights movement is that the leaders of the time felt that more serious damage could be done if their cause were linked to more radical, revolutionary ones like communism or anarchism. There is no such danger today, which is why people like Thompson have no qualms about embracing things like liberation theology and critical racial theory.

Or Antifa. A figure on the fringes of the most distinguished evangelicalism in Northern Virginia that I grew up in was Alex Mejias, a musician who led a project dealing with classical church music in a contemporary style called High Street Hymns. After a stint at UVA, he founded a non-profit organization called the Business Coalition for Justice and ran for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2017. The main project of the BCJ is the Richmond Community Bail Fund, which apparently sane leftists like Mejias and his connects business friends on a much more radical agenda, while the Bail Fund for status 501 (c) (3) depends on the group of companies. The bond fund first appeared on the BCJ website in 2017, soliciting donations. Donations in cryptocurrency have been accepted since 2018. This is also the case, according to archived pages on the BCJ website partner with the Attorney and Defender’s Office of the Richmond Commonwealth.

Each organization’s Twitter accounts collectively tell the story of the radicalization of the left in the Trump era. The first Tweet from the BCJ account in 2016, thanked Ben & Jerry for making a statement in support of BLM; That year they held listening sessions with the Richmond Police Department, and Mejias seemed keenly interested in corporate opportunities to advance social justice. In 2018, Mejias knocked on the doors for former ghost Abigail Spanberger’s race in Virginia. But by 2020, when the tagline of the day was All Cops Are Bastards, the bond fund signed a coalition Letters with the local Antifa and request everyone Inmate in Richmond’s facilities, prisons, and prisons to be escaped. One has to wonder what the principles of a man who is simultaneously working with anarchist revolutionaries and trying to elect CIA agents into Congress. One also has to wonder about the obligations of anarchists who accept his help.

Based on publicly available data, the bond fund grew very rapidly in the middle of last year’s Summer of Love. The BCJ filed 990-Ns for 2018 and 2019, which apply to organizations raising less than $ 50,000. The 2020 990s aren’t available yet, but according to statements on their website, they were available in early June last year taken in $ 700,000. According to their year-end transparency statement, they had spent $ 1,459,550.94 by December. Find the Business Coalition for Justice or the Richmond Community Bail Fund for nonprofit advertising in Virginia Registration Do not return results.

Their tweets show that they saved people involved in protests that caused more than $ 4 million in arson damage. Information about the bond fund was distributed during the protests on July 25th last year:

Public tweets from the bond fund indicate they have rescued protesters from that day on:

A friend recently noted that the most effective way to bring about sweeping change in America is to start at the intersection of tradition and reform. That’s what these progressive evangelicals are for, and we haven’t seen the last. President Obama has set this pattern in recent years by making his case for the idea of ​​carrying our best traditions into the future. As the former president said last year I am Not yet ready give up the opportunity America, ”whether or not it was an implicit threat, I’m sure he was telling the truth about himself. But it came after a few years when the religious left had shown that they were more than happy to work with those who had already given up.

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