Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
The Best of rightingamerica in 2022 | Righting America

by William Trollinger

People walking in front of the Ark Encounter outside in jackets.
Exterior of Ark Encounter. Image by Susan L. Trollinger (March 15, 2022).

It was another good year for rightingamerica, both in the variety of authors’ voices and topics, and in the number and variety of visitors/viewers. Regarding the latter, folks from over 140 countries read the blog in 2022, including folks from Azerbaijan, Burundi, Chad, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Oman, and Paraguay.

Below are the top ten read posts in 2022, which include two that were written in 2020 and 2021. Enjoy reading (or re-reading!)

10. Two Peas in a Pod: QAnon Conspiratorialism and Young Earth Creationism, by William Trollinger (March 16, 2022)

“Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (AiG) sit quite comfortably within the QAnon-loving camp. Not only have they established that to hold a ‘secular worldview’ is to be a pedophile, but they opened Ark Encounter to right-wing conspiratorialist Trey Smith for the filming of The Coming Storm: A Donald J. Trump Documentary. The title of this nearly unwatchable video – the production values are non-existent, and the unwatchability is exacerbated by Smith’s determination to stick his face as close to the camera as possible – gives away the QAnon connection.”

9.  Hijacking History: An Interview with Kathleen Wellman, by William Trollinger (August 04, 2022)

“’Created to serve the so-called ‘segregation academies’ of the 1970s, which were created in response to desegregation and Supreme Court rulings against Bible reading and prayers in school, these [fundamentalist] textbooks subsequently appealed to parents who wanted to protect their children from the counterculture of the 1960s and more recently from multiculturalism. . . . [The narrative in these texts] rejects religious toleration and pluralism and the separation of church and state. . . . It even rejoices in natural disasters as eagerly awaited signs of the apocalypse.’”

8. A Flood of Angry (and Grateful) Responses to American Pope: Scott Hahn and the Rise of Catholic Fundamentalism, by Sean Martin (Feburary 10, 2022)

“My tweet announcing the book [was] viewed over 120,000 times and interacted with (retweeted, liked, or commented on) more than 35,000 times . . . Among the many comments . . . was one that I found quite unsettling. Surprisingly, it was not the private message that I received informing me that the writer was praying for my death so that I may soon experience the judgment of God. It also was not the comment that suggested that I was possessed . . . Instead, it was the comment to a supportive retweet, ‘I hope this author knows what he’s in for. This is going to get bad for him.’”

7. The Appallingly Bad History Taught at Fundamentalist Schools, by William Trollinger (July 14, 2022)

“The [Bob Jones University] textbook uncritically describes slavery as integral to Southern culture. While noting the obvious disjuncture between slavery and ‘all men are created equal,’ it points out that, on the eve of the Civil War, ‘some even insisted the Southern slave culture cultivated the virtues of honor, courage, duty, and dignity.’ It also comments, ‘Slavery also provided educated Southerners the time to better themselves intellectually.’. .  . [As regards the civil rights movement], the Abeka US history textbook notes that . . . ‘segregation had become a way of life, and both white and black Southerners had a difficult time changing their ways.’”

6. Stay With Your Abusive Husband: John MacArthur and Evangelical Patriarchy, by William Trollinger (May 24, 2022)

“John Street, chair of the graduate program in biblical counseling at [John MacArthur’s Master’s University and Seminary], has taught his students [that]: a Christian wife should endure abuse by a non-Christian husband in the same way that missionaries endure persecution; by enduring abuse a wife may win her husband to Christ; when both spouses are Christian, the wife should rely on church processes, as government authorities must be the absolute last resort; domestic violence shelters are terrible places, as they teach women to be assertive; [and] the only grounds for divorce are unrepentant adultery and abandonment.”

5. Why I Wrote American Pope: Scott Hahn and the Rise of Catholic Fundamentalism, by Sean Martin (February 04, 2022)

“The central concern for me in writing American Pope was that, as arguably the most influential voice in American Catholicism, we should understand the vision that Scott Hahn offers in his works read by millions of Catholics throughout the world . . . and yet, until now, I have been unable to find a single systematic engagement with his thought and work . . . What I actually argue in the book is that the Catholic vision that Hahn claims to be providing his audience is, in fact, quite different than the one he actually presents. What he coins as Catholic faithfulness is instead a straight-forward and damning Catholic fundamentalism.”

4. Educational Malpractice: A Review of an Abeka Creationist 8th Grade Science Textbook, by Dan Phelps (March 23, 2022)

“Chapter 5: ‘Interpreting the Fossil Record’ . . . is devoted to attacking historical geology paleontology, physics, biology, and paleoanthropology. It also attacks Christians who accept theistic evolution as accepting ideas that are not ‘compatible with either the biblical record or established principles of science’ (emphases in the original). What makes this chapter so difficult to review is that almost everything in the chapter is wrong or bizarre. Just take, for example, the very first photo in the chapter, which shows Adam riding on the back of a lion in the Garden of Eden.”

3. The Scandal Deepens at Cedarville University, by William Trollinger (May 05, 2020)

“Let me see if I have this right. The school knowingly hired a man [Anthony Moore] who – in his previous position as campus pastor of The Village Church (TVC) in Fort Worth, Texas – had secretly videotaped a male youth pastor showering in Moore’s home on multiple occasions. More than this, they failed to inform students, parents, staff, and faculty as to what Moore had done, and they failed to institute a rigorous protocol to ensure that students, staff, and faculty were protected from a predator they did not know about. And now, after Moore is gone, Cedarville is investigating to ‘ensure’ that nothing inappropriate happened.”

2. “Let’s take the hill!”: Moving Past Confession and Repentance, The Main Dudes at Willow Creek Rehabilitate Bill Hybels, by Susan Trollinger (June 08, 2021)

The Willow Creek pastors are using “a rhetoric of preparation. The inner circle is being prepared for a shift in the very recently repentant rhetoric of Willow. Years of coverup. Years of attacking victims who were telling the truth. Years of enabling Hybel’s abuse. And then a little window in which a new elder board said, yes, it’s true. And we’re sorry. But enough of that! The new leaders have a vision! Enough of shame and lament and pain and confession and repentance. It’s time to get the Willow brand on the move again! All that confession and repentance is not uplifting. It does not fill the seats or the coffers. Instead: it’s time to ‘take the hill!’”

1. Ark Encounter: Not Sinking, but Not Close to Living Up to Projections, by William Trollinger (April 07, 2022)

“Between 4 and 5 million tourists have visited the Ark since 2016 . . . The Ark is not sinking. That said, Ark Encounter has never come close to reaching the numbers projected in the feasibility report given to Williamstown in 2013. It has never reached even the minimum number of visitors [projected] for its first year of operation. And with every passing year the tourist site falls farther short of what [Answers in Genesis] promised . . . And as documented by the wonderful film, We Believe in Dinosaurs, Ark Encounter has had little noticeable economic impact on the small town that provided the tourist site with such gifts.”