The church of Larry Nassar

By Fred Clark
Patheos blog
July 31, 2019

I included this story in the “postcards” link round-up, but I’m still so gobsmacked by this that I’ve got to visit it again. It’s from this RNS report by Bob Smietana, “Video links Beth Moore, Russell Moore, James Merritt to ‘Trojan horse of social justice’“:

Owen Strachan, associate professor of theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and former president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, also appears in the video, arguing that “liberal Christianity” is invading the evangelical church and a spiritual battle is underway.

“We are always having the principalities and powers exert pressure on us,” said Strachan.

An image that appears to be of Rachael Denhollander, an abuse activist who spoke at the SBC’s annual meeting, is intercut with [those] comments.

That angered Jacob Denhollander, Rachael’s husband.

He told Ascol and Founders Ministries on Twitter that their use of “my wife’s image in your video and the insinuation that she is part of the principalities and powers attacking the church is cowardly, grossly dishonest, and bearing false witness.”

These guys looked around the whole world for an iconic symbol of nefarious “powers and principalities” they regard as invading the church and attacking their faith in a spiritual battle, and the person whom they chose to represent all of that was Rachael Denhollander.

Is there any way to read that — any way at all — that doesn’t entail these guys proudly proclaiming themselves to be a bunch of deeply twisted sick bastards?

If it were at all possible, we’d want to read this as a horrible mistake in which these guys somehow meant Denhollander’s image to represent the kind of valiant standing for truth against sin that the church desperately needs if it is to withstand the slings and arrows of the principalities and powers aligned against it. She is, after all, exactly the kind of heroic, brave, truth-telling person of faith they’re desperately trying to present themselves to be. So maybe they just clumsily edited their video and accidentally made her image seem to be the emblem of the threats facing true religion rather than, as intended, as a symbol of the kind of stand for righteousness they insist the One True Faith needs.

But no matter how charitably we strain to reach for such an explanation, it’s just not possible as a way to read this part of the video or the video as a whole.

And so I suppose the very best possible remaining scenario that I can imagine in their defense is that they don’t really have any clue who Rachael Denhollander is, and thus they did not really deliberately intend to equate defending their faith with defending Larry freaking Nassar.

In this scenario, these goobs just latched onto Denhollander because she’s an outspoken woman and therefore must, in their view, be Bad, and they chose to make her their emblem of demonic opposition to their One True Faith without having any clue as to who she is or what she’s done because, as a rule, they never ever listen to the substance of what any outspoken woman is actually saying and because their stunted, carefully curated media diet does not include Time or Sports Illustrated or legitimate news sources of any kind and the tiny epistemic bubble of Fox/Breitbart/Christian talk radio they rely on never covered the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal and it apparently only registers in their little misogynist reptile stimulus-response mechanism brains as having something to do with #MeToo and therefore with feminism and therefore with the worst and scariest threat they can imagine.

And that is the best possible explanation for this.


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