Steven L. Taylor
Thursday, October 7, 2021
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog).
Follow Steven on Twitter
Andy Borowitz at the New Yorker:
Trump Claims He Fell Off Forbes’s Richest List Because They Failed to Count Rubles
New Hampshire state representative resigns as committee chair after sharing controversial document about COVID-19 vaccine:
I really miss New England.
30 tweet thread, with references to piece in WashPo:
Yes, we were discussing this idiocy yesterday. I really liked the part about how the vaccine injects creatures with tentacles into the human body.
@sam: Anti-Catholicism, once a major force in American politics, got pushed aside in the late-20th century when evangelicals realized they had an important ally in their war against secularism. But it never really died–practically all the prominent right-wing evangelical leaders have engaged in it at least tacitly.
From U.S. News and World Report:
“Those counties with the highest rate of religiously unaffiliated, white Catholics and greatest religious diversity saw the highest vaccination rates.”
Lowest vax rates? White evangelical Protestants.
The key phrase there is “religiously unaffiliated.” Conservative Catholics have considerable hostility toward what they call cafeteria Catholics, or even religious Catholics who are politically liberal (especially on reproductive rights), such as President Joe Biden.
There is a wide variety of unicellular and other microscopic lifeforms all over the Earth, particularly in water. We do a decent job filtering them out from drinking water, and washing them off the food supply, but odds are we all carry some of them some of the time.
Many have cilia and flagela, which might look like tentacles to some people.
I doubt any are contained in vaccine vials, or in the saline solution used to dilute the doses, as such things are produced under sterile conditions. I am certain they are everywhere else.
Oh, I know. But my impression is that many American Catholics, today (and even when I was a kid), are cafeteria Catholics, at least in their attitudes toward divorce and birth control.
I know that. You know that. Ken Wyler might not know that.
They’ve been created by a non-partisan “People’s Maps Commission”, after a year of public input in each of the Congressional districts throughout the state.
I agree 100%. But there are still enough conservative Catholics in the US that they keep the evangelicals from going full-blown anti-Papist, the way they used to. And it has the effect of minimizing Catholicism as a general identity–the religion of Biden and Kerry never received much attention during their presidential runs except as it related to their stances on abortion, in which case they were taking the most flak from other Catholics. Beyond that, the faction that has come to be called the Christian Right makes a habit of downplaying the Catholic-Protestant divide in their own ranks, and that’s how you end up with absurdities like Santorum on Time‘s list of America’s top evangelicals.
Ive begun conducting interviews for religious accommodation of our vaccine policy. We aren’t firing people but insurance goes up and we are allowing the unvaccinated to travel for company business.
Pure Comedy. Unfortunately, I don’t get to decide and my recommendations go to Corporate for the final decision. Of course, I play the humble and sensitive boss outwardly…inwardly they get my you’re full of shit look.
Maybe its the PTSD…but some groups of people only understand a kick in the ass. See, Trumpites.
I think we all suffer at least a little from Post trump Stress Disorder.
Two notable news on the vaccine front:
One, Pfizer is recommending shots of its COVID vaccine for children 5 to 11. The difference is they require a smaller dose, about one third the adult dose (still two doses 3-4 weeks apart).
The other is a vaccine for malaria has been approved by the WHO. Now, it’s very limited. For one thing, it’s meant for infants, and requires four doses over two years. The other thing is that it’s only 40% effective.
Why bother? Because it would be the first vaccine for use against parasites. thus far all vaccines are against viruses and bacteria. So this is a big development. It’s also likely to provide protection against severe cases even if it doesn’t prevent infection. This is no small matter, as the malarial parasite has adapted to some extent to antimalarial drugs (like hydroxychloroquine).
It’s too bad we can’t vaccinate mosquitoes.
From last nights Cards v Dodgers game: Well, would you look at that!
The look on the batter’s face.
I think some evangelicals weren’t even aware that Santorum is Catholic. He said all the things they wanted most to hear.
Remember when he said that his first act as president would be to proclaim that birth control is NOT okay for married Christians? (I suppose that means it’s fine for married Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.)
Someone? Who could it possibly be?
It wasn’t just evangelicals. That Time list on America’s top evangelicals that included Santorum, while its profile did mention in passing that he was Catholic before trying to hand-wave this fact away (“The Senate’s third-ranking Republican may be a Catholic, but he’s the darling of Protestant Evangelicals”), I seriously suspect it was a goof by the editors; whoever led the project included Santorum under the impression that he was actually an evangelical, then they previewed the list publicly before realizing their error, after which they were forced to cover their ass.
I’m far from an expert on this, but I remember being surprised in the early 2000s when I increasingly began hearing Protestants railing against birth control and divorce. Maybe it existed much earlier, but I think (I could be mistaken on this) that conservative Protestants have moved increasingly toward holding social views that used to be almost entirely the domain of Catholics. And that makes it harder to tell the two apart.
So much for a Trump endorsement, in Massachusetts, anyway:
Ha, ha, ha.
I don’t know how long Protestant fundies have held those views, either, but their beliefs obviously didn’t spring up overnight. Recall that G. W. Bush encouraged those people to come out from the shadows and make their presence known. Some of them may have been apolitical before that, or convinced they had no political clout.
Palin further encouraged them. And Trump of course proclaimed that he was an evangelical.
I prefer to use the word “fundamentalist” in describing these people rather than “evangelical” because the latter word denotes several Protestant denominations that are in fact socially liberal.
On lighter topics, I’m about ready to replace my dead TV (it’s been a while). While I’m at it, my old MS mouse has begun to behave erratically. It either fails to click or double clicks. This one did not last as long as my old keyboard, but it’s been around for years.
the reason I’m replacing the TV now is mostly so I’ll watch less TV. I can ignore the TV and write or browse the web when it’s just showing scheduled programming on cable, but not when I’m streaming something I really want to watch. Without a TV, I tend to log into the streaming services websites and stream stuff, and then I watch it (though I pause and do other things as well).
Plus I really need a new mouse, so I may as well get both in one order.
@CSK: The distinction “fundamentalist” vs “evangelical” was always the terminology we used in the 70’s. Honestly, I think the shift in Protestants was in no small part due to Frances Shaeffer’s book and video series “How Should We Then Live”. I know, for instance, that Michelle Bachmann cites him. Obviously, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority was a factor, and they’ve been building since about 1975. ish.
It now looks like they are on a downslope – diminishing in clout – and they don’t like it, and are trying to turn things around.
@Jay L Gischer: The term “Fundamentalist” first arose within a Protestant context, before coming to be used in a generic way that could apply to any religion. One problem is that it usually isn’t well-defined, and it’s been so often used as a pejorative that many people resist self-identifying by the term. (It also has specific meanings in certain contexts: for example, the phrase “Mormon Fundamentalist” denotes a split-off LDS church that favors polygamy.) I try to use phrases like “conservative evangelical” in recognition that not all evangelicals hold these views, but I think it’s important to realize that it is evangelicals we’re talking about, not other types of Protestants who may or may not hold those views.
@Kylopod: Oh for sure “fundamentalist” is pejorative. That’s how we used it. So yeah, I can see how they wouldn’t want that label.
Turns out though, they took the label from people who didn’t agree with them on many things. Classic politics, really. Start applying litmus tests to the label and exclude people who don’t agree with you.
By the way, I hate that stuff.
@Jay L Gischer: My point about it being pejorative was actually a side point. My main point is that the term has become vague and nonspecific. That’s why you don’t see pollsters or other researchers using the term, sticking instead to evangelical.
(That’s in contrast to a term like liberal, which despite being trash-talked by radio hosts for decades and despite being vague and hard to agree upon an exact definition, there are enough people still self-identifying by the term for it to be useful in studies.)
@Jay L Gischer:
I agree about the downslope, and theirreaction to it.
The term “fundamentalist Protestant” seem pretty clear in its meaning to me. Certainly it’s far less ambiguous than “evangelical,” as witness the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, aka Every Liberal Cause in America.
I wonder where they find a phone booth to meet in?
@Jay L Gischer:
I’ve seen evangelical used to describe those Christians that could otherwise be simply described as fundamentalists, that a significant part of their mission is to recruit new followers to their faith. Which is consistent with the definition of evangelize.
Beats me. Maybe a rest stop on Route 128.
IMO, a term that better reflects reality would be “American Taliban.”
I’m sure there’s significant overlap, but they are still distinct concepts, with different definitions. You can be fundamentalist without being evangelical (e.g. Hasidim, Amish), and vice versa.
I think the core components of what I would call “fundamentalism” are:
1. An overly, or extremely literal interpretation of sacred writings.
2. A refusal to acknowledge that they are doing any “interpreting” at all.
3. A sense that whoever wrote those writings wrote them perfectly and captured perfectly the mind of God in doing so, without error in writing or transcription.
Having written that, it stands out how much this has in common with certain people’s approach to law and the Constitution. You can at least see that the above has little that is specific to Christianity.
Amazon just notified me that I have $10 in ebook credits expiring soon.
So, commentariat, what are some book recommendations worthy of buying? I tend to get nearly all of my books–digital and physical–through the library, reserving both shelf and kindle space for those I’ll want to revisit at least once.
Current mood for the last year: sci fi, history, galaxy-brain nonfiction.
And you can be evangelical without being Protestant. You can be an evangelical Roman Catholic and an evangelical Muslim, for example.
Agreed, and my last comment wasn’t exactly clear on this, as I did mention Hasidim as an example of non-evangelical fundamentalists, but I meant to imply there are evangelicals in non-Protestant or even non-Christian faiths. Still, the capital-E Evangelicalism within Protestantism is a fairly concrete group (albeit somewhat broad and existing across different denominations with many avowedly nondenominational).
@Jay L Gischer: Actually there is a list of five ‘fundamentals’ of the faith. Back in the early 20th century, under the impact of darwinism and textual criticism, conservative U.S. protestants listed what they thought were the particular doctrines that could not be dispensed with and still call oneself a ‘Christian’.
2-The incarnation, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven and future second coming of Jesus Christ.
3-The ‘new birth’ through the Holy Spirit.
4-Resurrection of the ‘saints’ and their everlasting life.
5-Resurrection of the unsaved to eternal death.
So it’s equivalent to a creed in a faith that avoids creeds. There is some disagreement on what they are, by the way. You might see inerrancy of the scriptures in there.
In my experience, people who loudly and repeatedly identify themselves as “Christian” don’t seem to belong to any particular Protestant denomination.* They’re not Catholics, at any rate, because again in my experience, Catholics always identify as Catholics.
*I have never figured out exactly what the generic term “Christian” means. Does it require regular church attendance? If so, what church?
@JohnMcC: That has parallels with Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith, with is rather interesting since Maimonides is a prominent example of a medieval theologian who argued against Biblical literalism. (Indeed, he held that interpreting the phrase “finger of God” literally was heresy.) This illustrates one of the problems with defining fundamentalism outside a Christian context. It typically refers to dogmatic adherence to certain traditional principles in the face of modern challenges, but Scriptural literalism is not necessarily part of the traditions being defended in every faith.
@Kylopod: To the best of my knowledge, the fundy/evangelical community has never actually gotten away from the notion of Catholicism as the “seven-horned beast” or the “whore of Babylon” mentioned in- Revelations. Or maybe both, it’s so hard to keep track. Running a political empire disguised as a religion is tough work–lots of juggling and balancing to do.
@Kathy: “I doubt any are contained in vaccine vials, or in the saline solution used to dilute the doses, as such things are produced under sterile conditions.”
That’s why Bill Gates, George Soros, and Joe Biden had to add them.
@Mister Bluster: It they’re buried in a vault underneath the Kremlin, it’s because Putin has no intentions of giving them to you, Trumpo. “I’ll keep them safe for you” is just an empty promise–just like the ones you used to make to subcontractors when you could still get financing to build stuff.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Wait, wait. Gates and Soros put microchips in the vaccine, the better to track and control us.
@CSK: @Jay L Gischer:Early on, evangelicals were considered “liberal” among fundamentalists, but eventually, fundamentalists found that they shared some (mostly politically) important belief with evangelicals and the phrase “fundamentalist/evangelical” (sometimes hyphenated) came into being. Eventually, the fundamentalist part of the label became burdensome as America became more secular, fundamentalists reacted against the secularization (some moving into Dominion Theology), and evangelicals who were concerned about market share jettisoned the fundamentalist part of the label (but not necessarily the Dominion Theology–funny thing about that). I recall the distinction as primarily marketing–in much the same way that significant numbers of Baptists identify their churches as “Community” churches rather than “Baptist” ones. In my part of the world, being a Baptist is a good way to get ignored, so they don’t admit that they are. Other parts of the nation, Baptist church has cultural heritage to it, but still only the diehards will attach the label “fundamentalist” to their beliefs. It’s death for marketing. (And reminds conservative white evangelicals of Islam anyway for and additional strike.)
That was the point I was trying, not well, obviously, to make.
A couple of weeks ago David French tried teasing out what evangelical meant to trumpists and used the British Historian David Bebbington’s Quadrilateral for a definition of evangelical
Since these principles seem to be generally accepted by evangelicals, they make a good definition.
@Kylopod: Additionally, many Christians who, for whatever reason there would be, are still willing to identify as “fundamentalist” don’t actually know the history of it or what the “fundamentals” are. For example, the fundamentalist pastor in the church I grew up in counted seven fundamentals rather than the five John McC mentioned above–adding the inspiration and authority of the scriptures, and the requirement to separate from false teaching to the list. It’s all become very flexible now in any event.
@Neil J Hudelson: If you haven’t read The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976 by Frank Dikotter or The Forgotten Man:A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes, I would recommend both. (Of course, it’s also possible that by suggesting these two authors, I’ve identified myself as a closet fascist, too. I just don’t keep track of whose on “the approved readings list” since I left the evangelicalism behind years ago, so I have no idea of what the list is here.)
Another one that I would recommend is A Mafia Murder? The NCA Bombing by Michael Madigan, but it’s about organized crime in Oz and my cousin is an attorney in Adelaide for the agency that replaced the NCA, so it may be a little niche market for you. The only other recommendation that I have is Dreamland: A True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones, but it’s hardly a keeper and you’ve probably read it.
@CSK: Apparently, they, in cahoots with Biden, did the tentacled creature, too.
And while I’m here, I’ve come to the conclusion that within the boundaries of American society, the term “Christian” means nothing because it means whatever the user wants it to mean. It means precious little beyond nothing in a religious sense either because the same rule applies. People who are actually Christian, in a Christian theology sense, are going to need clearer identifiers for the immediate future. The language we have traditionally used has been coopted by everyone with a huck to ster.
Also while I’m here, I really thought that only the US did this type of performance art (at least among democracies).
@Neil J Hudelson:
Egyptian history: When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney.
Roman history: The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic, by Mike Duncan.
American history: These Truths, by Jill Lepore.
General science: A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson.
I grew up in Fundy / Evangelical circles in the 1970s and 1980s. We were taught at the time that the primary difference was that fundamentalists were Biblical literalists and Evangelicals were more likely to read Old Testament stories as allegorical.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Perhaps all those who identify as “Christians” rather than as Methodists, Episcopalians, et al. belong to some sort of secret club.
I agree that it means whatever the person identifying as it wants it to mean. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to locate a definition if it.
From yesterdays Brandon thread:
“Old What’s her name?” and I lived in a small Southern Illinois village forty years ago (pop. 3400 1980) about 5 miles from Sleepytown. One of the jobs she worked that paid for her BS and MS was cleaning houses. One of her clients in the village told her that they had to buy their one bottle of wine a month at a store in Sleepytown where they worked. The village was dry at the time but there was a liquor store right outside the city limits. They dared not purchase their alcohol at that place however as members of their church would park across the street from the liquor store and watch to see if any of their brethren would visit the shop.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Why not both? Teeny, tiny cyborgs.
Microscopic unicellular tentacled critters with nano scale computer chips as the “brain”.
Back in the day I knew a guy who worked at a porn store in Houston. He said they loved it when the annual Baptist convention came around–their sales for the month tripled.
By God, I think you’ve got it.
Trump plans to invoke executive privilege to prevent his aides from testifying about January 6.
My question: What executive privilege? Or is he planning on claiming that he’s still the president because Biden stole the election?
@JohnMcC: That’s a good list, and I feel like you are probably better informed on the history of this than I am.
AND, several items on that list do not serve to distinguish groups. Most of that is in the Apostle’s Creed, which is pledged and adhered to in many more liberal circles.
I had a friend that got a Masters from Fuller Theological Seminary in the early 80’s and the “inerrancy debate” was the hot thing, and the thing that people split on.
Hey, next time the occupant at the White House attempts to conspire to throw a coup and seize power, they won’t be able to guarantee the confidentiality of their co-conspirators as they go about their illicit activities.
Do you want that on your conscience?
Donald Trump has no conscience, a lack he manifested when he was pre-kindergarten.
Whatever the merits of the filibuster to prevent wrongful legislation, right now it’s making it a GQP Xmas 365 days a year.
Sadly, there seems to be precedent for an ex-President to still claim executive privilege over some things. Rarely used but I expect Trump will proceed to try and shatter all those norms as well. And the R’s will protect him.
We’re a banana republic with nukes.
@Sleeping Dog: “You can be a fundamentalist without being an evangelical”. Indeed. Some of the more serious Calvinist/Reformed splinter churches have quite the same snooty tone when referring to ‘evangelicals’ as Anglicans do. You’d think they all handle snakes.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
I was kinda hoping your link was going to an article about how the magnificent sport of Punkin Chunkin had gone international.
I cannot decide which class I prefer. Trebuchets are more elegant and require finer engineering to do it well, but compressed air cannons evoke a visceral thrill.
Your daily reminder that the world is not all bad:
Mini Dwarf Pony Who Could Barely Walk Finally Gets To Run
@Mu Yixiao: Awwww!!! That was so awesome to watch her take off at the end!
@Grommit Gunn: Ayup. That was one of the objections, all right. There was also a flap about inspiration and authority of the scriptures with fundies objecting to an assertion that scripture was only authoritative and inspired to the extent that the text was correctly translated, but that one went away when fundies discovered the New World Bible.
@CSK: My experience is that they belong to 685+ different secret clubs. But I come from a cohort where separatism is held as a particular virtue. My view may be tainted by that.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
I believe you. Since, as I’ve previously mentioned, I wasn’t raised in any religion, all this is completely foreign to me.
@JohnMcC: Yeah, but the older line Reformed groups are not “non conformists” in the same way that free church non conformists are. To some degree, I feel the pain of the old line Reformists. I’ve been in free church groups that are more like going to a nightclub act than going to church.
So many feels!
I must be allergic to something or there is smoke in the air. Maybe I just cut up an onion and forgot.
Sorry! I forgot to warn everyone about the new OnionTube feature.
You can blame it on the internet.
Wow. This Covid visualization by county over time is beautiful….and terrifying.
The chemical composition of basal tears (eye lubrication), reflex tears (smoke or onion), and emotional tears are distinct.
Pray tell, how and why did we develop and sustain thru countless generations the propensity toward emotional crying? One of our greatest creations and utterly lost to time.