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tv   After Words After Words Ben Howe The Immoral Majority  CSPAN  September 1, 2019 9:00pm-9:50pm EDT

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and as a conservative hell do you define those in terms of your own story and in terms of how you are using them in the book. i think with conservatism happening on the libertarian minded hearts when it comes to federalism the government being involved in people's lives that hthereason i'm a conservative instead of a libertarian is because i also have a lot of kinship with conservative social baggage which are often in line with evangelical values. sometimes if i'm feeling frosty i might call it comes to the very end and --
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>> we will get into that. >> in terms of the evangelical is inherent which is a prominent feature. i believe in the holy spirit guiding you and most of the things and the fact that i was southern. we went to southern baptist churches in dallas texas and virginia. >> so you certainly had a pedigree. you have the conservative background and did you make no bones about that, that is the position you are coming from when you are here to critique
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donald trump. you start with several stories that one caught my chin because i think you mentioned it as a kind of window into how you felt about the way that evangelicals were flocking both in terms of the primaries but in terms of the election as well. tell me the story for those that are watching tony the story about 1984 you are in dallas at a protest with your parents.
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deciding to spend his life pursuing the ability to critique and eventually hebrew and other languages from the bible. in around 1984, jerry falwell there were some that were protesting that.
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i already knew that jerry falwell junior endorsed donald trump and i was seeing the move in the polls but it was in june when there was a christian summit of leaders that trump spoke to and falwell put out a himself with playboy magazine with trump on it and i say this in the book and it bears repeating here. it wasn't like playboy magazine. i know who trump is and it didn't surprise me at all but this is his father's legacy, jerry falwell junior he is now the leader of liberty universi university. to go from protesting playboy
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magazine to giving a thumbs-up in front of it was a striking contrast started opening my eyes to the idea something had infected the evangelical movement. >> you have a take on it and analysis and diagnosis so people get to that in a second, but you have a great chapter in the book where you talk about the new good news as i think the term evangelical. for those that may not know the evangelical language it is the good news of the gospel dot
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pictures you talk about the new good news i may be jus maybe jur the first question for you but in your mind what is the old good news? >> no matter how you've lived, what you've done and even in the sense what you will do because people make mistake, your sins will be paid for by jesus christ in voted to spend eternity with god. >> host: and you are saying that evangelicals embraced trump
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and are now preaching a new. i just want to go through these and ask you to elaborate a little bit. part of the new good news, this idea of the vessel theology. there is a real basis for the idea that god uses vessels throughout the bible. a >> somebody that got put in a particular position in time and at thaif that person theoreticad literally didn't necessarily come across is the kind of person you'd expect him to use and this happens over and over in the bible but where i feel
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like it has been morphed while anybody could be there comes an issue when it is people deciding that they must be a vessel because it conflicts with their desires and the reason that stained dresses because that makes it so anything that persoa person does is an exhibition of the fact that they are vessels and that is the fast track to how do you hold somebody accountable for doing god's will when you're the one that decided what god's will was. >> host: donald trump you argue is a vessel for many evangelicals. and again, just so we get the larger context, we can debate
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the number and i would tend to agree. some of that was a divinely appointed person. i always wonder could you have the vessel theology where god is using a particular person like donald trump if you believe in the christian worldview t whichi think we both do. i talk a little bit about this in the book. the thing about trying to determine not just someone is a vessel of god's will that also isn't like god didn't do what he
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was going to do, jesus told him what he was going to do before it even happened. having not done that isn't the case that a vessel is a value judgment in terms of good or evil. it's about being in this particular position at this particular moment given the position donald trump occupies and the power involved, it would be hard to argue that god is not involved. obviously he is but i'm not going to try to determine his motives and much less look past things because of that. there was such certainty that they know what the plan is. there is no mystery. >> guest: a lot of times it boils down to an easy answer.
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you can answer what about this. how much, how representative are these vessel theologians are some of the other things we are going to talk about can we say they are buying into this, is that a significant number? i feel very confident that they
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cover and this is primarily how people look at it living in the evangelical world in the south being at the politics as i am from traveling the country when i was making a film about a trump in 2016 and ten of the people answer things. whether or not i'm among one of those four is the primary one. i would argue that, bu but i wod say the danger is the vessel appears more often among the most vocal leadership which is a problem in and of itself. the evangelicals that flatter
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him and it was recently on the jim bakker show pitching a kings virus claimed for $45. what does this have to do with anything in terms of -- i've heard of this and i've written about it. >> guest: part of it is fulfilled as a result and benjamin netanyahu mentioned him when he was talking about how thankful they were for trump moving. i don't personally feel it's netanyahu was calling him a new king cyrus. i think that he was saying it's as big a moment.
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it allowed them to go back to their homeland and more importantly, he's doing this is something that had been in the prospect. so god made it clear what would happen. the comparison with trump is that since he wasn't paying him, doing god's will in line with prophecy and everything else, certainly the same could be true of donald trump. that is what breaks it is they say yes, literal prophecy. it's interesting i don't know if you notice the firs noticed thes were not there to.
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it's still in the race to a degree and has talked about and written by some pretty mainstream evangelical. they talk about if not in a noncritical way. they present it as and trump was fine with it which doesn't surprise me. there is a guy that i can't recall the name at the moment but need a movie. >> guest: a liberty university filmmaker. >> guest:
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>> host: to the extent people to sign up without knowing that's what they are doing. they all answer questions prior to the elections where they can use anyone and the issue was saying god can use anyone is that if you're not also saying that is true about hillary you are kind of defining the vessel theology even if that isn't what you think you are doing. >> the other parts of this that are sort of much more prevalent one is the way that the evangelicals have compartmentalized. what do you mean by that? it's still of use if i'm picking
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which way that the toilet paper roll goes in my bathroom i don't need to put religion in. and what a load of persons do is between politics and religion at the moment the more urgent issue is the politics and whatever religious consideration they had prior are still there, they are going to take this more urgent thing because it doesn't have to do with this. he showed a good example of how that works but he wouldn't endorse mitt romney if you spend time saying that they had to do whatever they could to stop romney on spiritual grounds
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until he was a nominee and then suddenly it was fine with what do you say to the person that says this is classic on fox news and i hear him say this all the time the church's responsibility is one thing to preach the gospel and so forth, but the governments job is to pay to protect us and compartmentalized it and donald trump is protecting us and our borders and he's going to fight. so it doesn't quite matter. how do you respond to that? >> guest: p. merges things in the moment that he needs to.
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he was asked about the sermon on the mount would you rather have a candidate that represents the values of the amount and then he replied heck no which is shocking. then he morphed into talking about what the united states does and how it deals with another country or government. so despite no matter how far away and the reason, but we were talking about the man. what i have seen so far it seems that he is saying is if you are going to have a government that functions somewhat immortally as it relates to others, you need a person that somehow represents the same type of morality which
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i would think would be in on the thing. where do you stand a variety of david french and others whose character and you have other people on capitol hill casting the dispersions from this character issues but most of them line up. how do you parse that out? >> guest: i don't think that there is anything wrong with the idea with a transactional relationship. the way that the transaction would work would be to have expectations of the person to fulfill and not make it difficult for you to support them and then that is and what
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happened with trump though. the reason it isn't transactional even though he does things and some things you agree he's not giving anything in return the piece is so prone to throw people under the bus gets to be that he treats the friends and family it puts people in the position they either become a critic or they pretend everything he does is great. what ends up happening is they are more concerned about getting their policy objectives so they end up losing a lot of times on
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my. many people work in the industry because i've been here as long as i have a heat eve i hate evet an industry. they have angst about how difficult he makes them and i'm only suggesting it doesn't have to be difficult. you can say that he shouldn't do this. >> this is an example of frankly graham who is quiet of separating families at the border because if he were to speak out strongly against that, he has a larger issue so he loses his voice in some way. >> guest: an >> guest: and i'm not a psychologist if you notice the example that you gave, russell
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moore did say something about that and the he headed the baptist convention and already called the instant he is dead to the republican movement and evangelicals, said he is a bad guy so what is jerry falwell doing and he jumps up like this on who won this narcissist dad's attention. so the last issue in the new good news which is the most interesting one, it's associated with the lesser of two evils. what do you mean by that? >> it is one that i would say even i have struggled with and i have a lot of empathy for how difficult it can be.
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you've got two options into the only two options you've got one is bad, one is worse. you're going to be rational about it. 2016 hillary clinton is pro-choice and she will not protect religious liberties. she will raise taxes and do all the things you don't want is a christian or conservative. trump brings all this back with him but he will do things like this is bad but this is worse. >> host: what is your critique of that? the lesser of two evils, i can't vote for hillary, and the big thing if you vote for either, you are throwing your vote away. how do you answer that especially from an evangelical.
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evangelical. >> a lot of times it's important to because i will say that if there was no greater truth in our universe if it is just something that we agreed on a te opposed to something that really fuels life which i believe is, pragmatically, sure. why wouldn't you do that. the entire idea is to something higher than that and so, once i established that if there's something higher to answer to it starts to begin the question of how much do you trust god if you think god is limited to the two-party system. it's tempting but dangerous and contributes to keeping the
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system in place that takes accountability out of the system and it's also an easy way to bring in something like evangelicalism or any other and then use it as a way to get votes which seems about the worst possible way. so, rather than being captive, and i mean this in a good way rather than being captive to the sort of evangelical theology and a big god that cares for his people is it fair to say that many evangelicals tend have instead replaced that kind of theology with a worldview and fear that we need a strongman you've got some kind of person
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likes trump to help us and save us. >> that's the thing you could have gone into the voting booth with a completely clean conscience and not believe the accusations made that you believe all that? you've made a decision that you think is in line with your relationship. that is and what i'm hearing though. when i talk to people about it, the wind blows for these reasons. they had a lot of respect and over the years but has become apparent to me is they were never holding the shows. they like hockey fights and up
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until yesterday or two days ago how he closes in on the speech and they like that he's real. i get why that is all very tempting politics is a blood sport in the thing revenge probably feels pretty sweet. but if you wanted to design a test for christians, i can't think of a better one putting you in a position to get revenge and not take it. >> host: are evangelicals wait to feel victimized in your opinion? it is a legitimate feeling because you hear that also he's going to fight for us.
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i get the sense that maybe you are not as critical of the fact that this yard being victimized but the response to how one is victimized is where you have a problem. >> on the one hand absolutely i am saying people have been unfairly maligned, silenced, kicked out of entire industries. there've been all these reasons for people to be upset even among the response, an interesting thing happens as expectedly able to democrats and liberals suddenly liked me a lot. that has changed my views, but they were nice to me and as a
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result of being nice to me, i started to get the same heat from the right and what i discovered is they all do it. yes, all those things people feel victimized on, yes. are there other versions of that with the right does t thus to t, absolutely. so, the problem is it is to believe this thing that happened to an individual or this particular situation and it's even find feel as if the entire right has been mistreated but i would argue there are things that divide culturally speaking has power over such as christianity which the last time i checked that's pretty powerful. certain industries have power of it and the left wields there is off in ways that i think are unjustifiable and just as horrible as the things that are coming out here but my interest.
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>> i'm intrigued in the way that you describe people on the left that were suddenly like you. you don't seem like a person that worries too much so i'm not going to use that term, but do you wonder once you pull trump out of the equation you go back to it just being the conservative evangelical again and there is no point of connection do you see a kind of return? >> for a while i would not change how i told about a certaifelt about acertain issue, there would be people who would come after me for it. i thought you were one of the good ones. >> i never said i was. that would start happening. what i started to discover is i guess you could say that it was kind of spiritual i had this
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opportunity to talk to people who've always been my adversaries. they suddenly had a reason to be nice to me and it was a narrative reason. i wouldn't completely conform to what they wanted but i didn't get mad. i talked and i tried to bridge the gap. i wouldn't say that they convinced people to be conservative but i did get people to be okay. so, to me it was so instructive that you put people in the position to not be in front of thousands of people and find some common humanity. what the biblthe bible says outr people worked. it just does. >> host: you are pretty open in the book about some places in the past where you've kind of not taken the advic advice of yr
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given us. in some places it reads kind of like a confessional. i was in church and here's what i've learned. we are not getting too deep into the weeds, talk about this kind of change of heart and your journey. >> guest: there's two reasons i put it in the book. i despise the idea and as you can see by having read the book, i believe the awful short. nobody is in a position that we can't not talk about morality as a part of it is to say okay, we get it.
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this is a tough topic people are sensitive about. religion is the other subject you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table. what i didn't want is for evangelicals to read this book to think that i was an outsider. i was there. i was in a tea party. i was carrying the signs coming giving speeches. i had every client and conservatives in my office with me. i am one of you, i really am. then for those who were not as connected to the world, i needed to giv give them an insight into what enemies of. for instance what i wrote about my first ever post was right after barack obama won the presidency and i have been so tired of being aligned to becomd called a nazi.
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i was so upset about it and then when i saw a bunch of actors suddenly being willing to talk on the suddenly willing to befriend, it's kind of enraged me. i was just like where have you been the last eight years. now you want to be friends? if there's going to be a conversation, we are going to get to that point. there has to be some understanding of where people came from and why they got to this point. i don't make excuses for what the evangelical right for the conservative right does on a lot of things. they make excuses for it. but knowing how they got to that point, it's important that you are expected to speak to them or find common ground. >> since your credentials worked
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and then they teach you a more powerful voice i think. let's go back to again why the evangelicals voted for trump. the common narrative, choosing abortion plus one other thing. you make the case on about those things motivated evangelicals to vote for trump. for us it was self-interest. imagine you are with your friends and ready to go out to dinner and one of the guys has
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an ax that is there and he isn't over it. he says go to that restaurant and everybody's like you want to go there to see your ex-girlfriend. no, it's about the seafood platter. everybody kind of knows. in politics and evangelical politics, the goal he didn't want to see his economic policies and lower taxes and regulation. typical it is more t has more th an individual. polling shows the top concerns for evangelicals and by the way of the republicans as well. it was cited as the one issue that mattered but the truth is that fell below things like immigration, education, economic
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issues. the only things were treatment of minorities and basically the things that would be most relatable to a christian thinking about their christianity, treating people decently, arguably the immigration policy and of course abortion and religious liberty were at the bottom of the list. >> historically i would have to go back and look at this i would like to compare that with 2012 as a historian of the christian right there does seem they are
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the most important. >> guest: one of the reasons that it would be easier to communicatbelief, they were votr presidents who were more easily aligned with what the picture and evangelical to support. when trump comes into the picture it just changes the calculus. >> how do evangelicals move, what is their next step for
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abandoning the movement and its so corrupted by politics and gop politics that it has no power to shape the culture anymore and even the churches. where do you come down on god tt and do you still use the term and what is the state of this but you have adhered to the. >> first, why do i keep the name evangelical, i love the idea of evangelizing. it's important. it should sound like a good thing. when you are talking about evangelizing you can do that in other contexts it shouldn't have a negative connotation but i think it does.
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i would rather it continued to be rehabbed. it would be kind of strange that he's not going to have anything to do with your concession that could position the other voting booth. i think also we have a megachurch problem. there were 12 disciples. i always thought that was a good number. the people that are happiest go
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to church have a bible study. they have a small group that they go to where people are not just listening. they are living with each other and holding each other accountable, and i think that they spoke to a little of that and that's coming from folks would probably attend a satellite church. i've been wrestling with that for a while. the size o is that the church could be okay if there were more emphasis put on these smaller groups. >> often am and again i hope people don't read too much about this but about jesus an in the gospel, everybody is there and there's a disconnect.
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>> i do get it where it's like. i like the music, it's like a giant therapy session, and they are very connected to today which is great. you want people to feel that connection. i have a lot of understanding about theology and of understanding about this because this was something that he emphasized and put on my heart and it helped me come in idyllic churches these days need to think about how we can start putting that back in the passages that make things clear. more personally confident with
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some of the church. >> do you think that if we do move to a smaller more committed group of people that that may help solve some of our political evangelicals political problems? >> there might be another aspect of it which is that it needs to hold leaders accountable. franklin graham has disappointed me but jerry falwell junior and robert jeffries and others they are not discussing politics from a religious angle diversio verst from a political angle. given the size of the influence, we both work in a world where people are going to read things i've written and whether or not
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you accept that, that is a big responsibility. if you are not careful with your words. >> host: there is no one to hold these. now the denomination i thought about kind of abandoning the word evangelical. i went to a church that was presbyterian except they disagree with the way that the church was doing things but still considered themselves presbyterian appointed -- we
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have a couple minutes left and there is so much more in the book i would like to talk about. there is this idea of moral welfare and great thoughts about how they've been co-opted into these are all things we did spend a whole another hour talking about. but in the last couple minutes am sure you are getting this question a lot, 2020. evangelicals. what is your take? i think it is pretty obvious they are going to rally around the trump again. >> there is one thing they've consistently been putting up 26% of the electorate but the number that identifies have been doing down at the same time doubling
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down on the enthusiasm is mostly injections of fear straight into the veins and fear, fear. we've got the immigration issues, we've got a lot of angles for fear. part of what is going to dictate in my opinion what is going to ultimately have an is who the candidate is. i think you will see the biggest evangelical turnout that you've ever seen i still think that the evangelical vote will go from trump but i don't think that will be quite. as to the question of simply will they vote for him come absolutely.
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