Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 8

“Yeah, if I was in Germany during World War II, I probably would have been a Nazi.”

And with that, Eric ruined our meal at Chick-Fil-A. Trying to lighten the mood, I asked if he needed to talk with our Bible professors about in my best deadpan.

He laughed. “No. But pretty much everybody in Germany thought Hitler was great. And the ones who didn’t gave in anyway. Only a few people really stood up to him.” He dipped his waffle fry and took a bite. “And since I’m not the ‘stand up to authority’ type, that wouldn’t have been me. I would have followed the crowd.”

Anyone who’s ever been to college will recognize this conversation. I’d been doing lots of pseudo-philosophizing lately–usually in my dorm over video games after a late-night Taco Bell run. But considering where we’d just come from, the timing for this conversation was . . . awkward.

Continue reading “Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 8”

Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 2

Last week, I opened my series on evangelicals and politics with my vague boyhood idea that Republicans were good, and Democrats were bad. But that wasn’t my only vague idea.

When I was a kid, politics terrified me.


“You know what the real problem is–relying on government for everything.” Mr. Anderson’s voice reverberated across the ball pit. It was a tradition: every week after Sunday evening service, a group of families went to the McDonalds Play Place. All us kids scampered through giant hamster tubes and dove out sticky slides. This was great. The grown ups talked politics.

This was less great.

“That’s why taxes have gotten so high–people need government programs to run their lives.” A mom chimed in.

“Taking all our money for no reason.” Mr. Anderson agreed.

Clinton was going to take all my parents’ money? Then how were they going to buy me food and clothes? I scooted to the far side of the ball pit to escape the talking.

Continue reading “Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 2”

Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 1

My first political memory is strangely vivid. It was November of 1992, and my dad was driving me to Kindergarten. The radio announcer, in a tone as soggy as the weather, discussed Bill Clinton’s recent election.

“Bill Clinton is stupid!” I proclaimed, feet kicking the dashboard.

“Don’t say that,” my dad replied. “He’s the President now, so we have to respect him.”

My memory goes blank after that, so I don’t know how I responded. But this memory’s worth dwelling on for a couple reasons.

First, it shows that I somehow got it in my six-year old head that Bill Clinton was “stupid.” Second, it shows I could not have gotten this idea from either of my parents. My dad stopped me from calling him stupid. As for my mom, those who’ve met her know that calling a politician “stupid” is . . . out of character.1

So how did I learn that Bill Clinton was stupid? It must have seeped in from my culture, a part of the atmosphere I imbibed without realizing it. Like the blue of the sky and the green of the grass, the badness of Bill Clinton was a fact of life.

Continue reading “Battle Hymn of the Evangelical: Part 1”