Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
Looking Back at 2018 | Righting America

by William Trollinger

Image of a map showing the percentage of the percentage of people who identify as religious across the U.S. with blue having the least religious and brown having the most religious.
Faithland map, 2018. Created by Alex Egoshin using data provided by the Association of Religion Data Archives.

2018 was significant for the rightingamerica blog, both in the variety of authors’ voices and topics featured, and the number of visitors/viewers. Below are the year’s twelve most popular posts of 2018, which include two posts from previous years that attracted a good amount of attention in 2018. I should note that the twelfth most popular post of 2018 had more visitors/viewers than the most popular post of 2017.

This past year has made even clearer that we are a community of engaged scholars who seek to understand evangelicalism, young Earth creationism, and Christian Right politics. We hope for even more authors and a wider range of topics in 2019. And we invite you to write a post or posts for this site. If interested, please be in touch!

12: Looking In from the Outside: Evangelical Colleges and Donald Trump by Adam Laats with William Trollinger (January 29, 2018)

  • “Evangelical colleges and universities have always fueled feelings of usurped ‘Christian’ social dominance; they have emphasized beleaguered, defiant white nationalism. In other words, evangelical colleges have always promoted a very Trump-ish vision of white “Christian” nationalism.”

11: Notes from the (Ongoing) Controversy at Taylor University by William Trollinger (April 6, 2018)

  • “The authors of Excalibur [the ‘publication of the Taylor University conservative underground’] claim that . . . they are victims of a hostile cultural and campus climate . . .  Actually, Excalibur’s whining . . . is prima facie evidence that the victimhood trope has captured much of American evangelicalism.”

10: Immigrants, and a Better Way Forward by Herbie Miller (November 8, 2018)

  • “Our immigrant friends have truly been a gift to us from God, surprising and delighting us by bringing new friends to our doors. And in response, my church’s posture toward immigrants is one of trust — in God and in our new friends – and welcome.”

9: The Moody Crisis: Part 1 by Tim Gloege (January 18, 2018)

  • “For most of the twentieth century, [Moody Bible Institute] could claim ownership of a premiere (perhaps the premiere) conservative evangelical brand. Its longstanding tagline touted Moody as the “name you can trust.” Today, it is the name hardly anyone remembers.”

8: Ark Encounter Attendance: After Two Years, The Controversy Continues by William Trollinger (July 12, 2018)

  • “Will Ark Encounter be around in, say, ten years? Five years? I have no idea. But if I were a bondholder or a Williamstown official, I would find it very worrisome that the reported attendance numbers are ever-changing, and apparently never as promised.”

7: It’s Not about Paige Patterson, Continued: Sex and Gender Beyond Evangelicalism by Elesha Coffman (June 12, 2018)

  • “I heartily concur . . .  that ‘this tangled mess of misogynistic axioms … must be rooted out and disposed of—within the SBC and American evangelicalism as a whole.’ I only wish we could stop there. The roots of this problem are deep, the branches are wide, and the fruit is sickening.”

6: The Pain Wrought by Complementarian Theology by Margaret Bendroth (June 13, 2018) 

  • “Regardless of whether Paige Patterson . . . was simply guilty of being an insensitive buffoon, he’s an abuser. Regardless of whether husbands who love their wives as Christ loved the church beat them with a hairbrush or not, they are inflicting damage. Perhaps . . . we’ve reached a moment of acknowledgement, maybe even repentance—and maybe even redemption.”

5: Religious “Nones” and Social Decay in the Heartland by Zach Spidel (February 12, 2018)

  • “There is one sort of a-religiosity that exists amongst many of America’s cultural elite on the coasts. There is another that exists around here amongst those left behind in this new gilded age of ours, and it is emblematic of a deadly social decay.”

4: The Surprising Geography of America’s Religious “Nones” by William Trollinger (February 9, 2018)

  • “Take a look at the fascinating ‘Faithland’ map . . . created by using data from the 2010 Religious Data Archives that documents the percentage of religious adherents in each county in the United States. . . Note the place that is not along the coasts and that is not in the West and that has a high concentration of ‘nones.’ Really?”

3:  Noah’s Flood: The Drowning of Billions by William Trollinger (June 30, 2016)

  • Answers in Genesis “casually (even callously) suggest[s] the possibility that between 749,999,992 and 3,999,999,992 human beings drowned in the Flood . . . Here, then, is the message of Ark Encounter. The righteous drowning of millions/billions of human beings prefigures the righteous burning of billions of human beings. Quite the tourist site.”

2: Joel Osteen, Evangelicals, and Donald Trump by Emily Hunter McGowin (October 16, 2017)

  • “Donald Trump offers a less polished, more nationalistic version of Osteen’s prosperity preaching. So, when Twitter explodes over the perceived hypocritical behavior of Joel Osteen . . . evangelicals are being targeted too. Hatred for Osteen is also about hatred of evangelicals and what they have come to represent, fairly or unfairly, in the American cultural imagination.”

1:  It’s Not about Paige Patterson: Sex and Gender in the SBC and Beyond by Emily Hunter McGowin (June 11, 2018)

  • “The web of sex and gender ideology I’ve described above exists with or without Paige Patterson and with or without the SBC. It is this tangled mess of misogynistic axioms that must be rooted out and disposed of—within the SBC and American evangelicalism as a whole. This culture is harmful to men, to be sure, but it is particularly devastating to women and girls.”