1 Episode results for "El Paso Aerial Martinez"
"Hello and welcome to exponential show exploring the world inside and outside the Evangelical Subculture. I'm your host Blake testing before we get to this week's interview with Angela. Danker out to tell you about a new project that I've started over on sub stack. It's a newsletter called the Post Evangelical Post. It's exactly what it sounds like it's a newsletter I'm pretty excited about it. It is going to be available to all patrons supporters for free both current and former patrons supporters and will be available for As a twice weekly publication one free edition per week and a paid subscription for an additional edition for seven dollars a month. That number has been chosen because it is the lowest number To reach economic sustainability quickly. I do hope you check that out. It's one of two additional projects. That are an extension of the sort of work that I do here on the show that I am hoping to get off the ground this year. So please go check that out and share it. You can visit Post Evangelical Post Dotcom an will redirect you directly to the newsletter. Page all right. Let's get right into this interview with Angela. Danker as always this episode has been produced and edited by Jake. Louis thank you very much. Let's get into it heroine and welcome back to X. Gentle my guess. This week is Angel A. Danker. She is a pastor a journalist and the author of Red State Christians understanding the voters who elected Donald Trump Angela. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Thanks for coming on. I'm really glad we're able to arrange this. And it's twenty twenty. I'm going to say the dates because it's GonNa come back later. It's January seven twenty twenty and I'm glad we're talking about your book and then the work you've you've done to explore this question to start. I'd like to start the show. Just learning a little bit about the guest and where they came from and what their Initial sort of religious background was that's especially pertinent in the case of our conversation. Because so much of your book is about both those things both identity and location so if you could share a little bit about where you grew up in and what's your formative spiritual background was like. Yeah I was thinking about you. Know your audience and sort of the ways that my own faith background has crossed over a lot of dividing lines the that happening. Christianity and I think our current climate has caused us to sort of really draw. These strict dividing lines among Christians say will either urine evangelical or your mainline percent or your progressive conservative. In my own faith. Life has really crossed over a lot of those lines which sometimes leaves me feeling homeless but also kind of helps me to be able to understand a lot of different people's faith backgrounds so my parents were actually married in the Catholic Church. My Dad grew up Catholic. But my mom Her father was a Lutheran pastor and his grandfather was a Lutheran missionary in Canada from Germany. So there's kind of a tradition of Lutheran pastors skips a generation on that side. And so my parents initially. We're GONNA take us to the Catholic Church But there was a new Lutheran Church plant. That happened in elementary school. Just down the road from our house and so I grew up going to that church and it sort of became a Lutheran Mega Church. So I had this unique experience of going to a church in a school. In knowing the pastor really well in kind of you know having the run of the church as some of the first families to join and then as I got older the church just got bigger and I ended up being confirmed with two hundred kids and had this crazy. You know only in Minnesota experience of megachurches racism which I think quite realized was so rare in America But also from very early on I was also really shaped by Evangelical Ism To a Baptist. Bible camp growing up in northern Minnesota and we played this game called persecution. You know where we are like. The Christians being hunted by the government in the woods among I attended youth group when I got older at a covenant. Church win away. In retreats you know did the whole Reading the Bible challenge all the way up through college and then when I went to college I went to the University of Missouri and played volleyball. There was in a Bible study withdrawals from eyeball team and at that point. I realized I was the only one in that whole Bible. Study who had been baptized as a baby and so in college my eyes were really open to see. You know this experience that I had of Lutheranism and Catholicism was really a very limited segment of American Christianity was And so kind of learned a lot. There Went to Methodist Church. While I was in college and then I went into sports writing and moved first to Kansas City and then to Florida and while I was in Florida got to know you know the local high school. Football coaches will. They sort of encouraged me to go to a few different Baptist Churches So through that whole meandering road. I ended up after sports writing than attending a Lutheran seminary and so near the end of my time at in Florida. I was kind of going back to the Lutheran Church but always just felt you know really at home in contemporary worship environments which allow blueprints don't and felt really strongly that that the different groups of American Christians needed to learn from each other instead of hating each other so within Minnesota. Is that primarily place where you'll see a with there is or L. CMS and? I I know this is sort of getting in the weeds but this is the show to get into the weeds with American Christianity. So elsia mass being a Lutheran Missouri Senate. Yes you'll see being evangelical Lutheran Church. Yeah and of course growing UP IN MINNESOTA I actually am kind of embarrassed. But maybe it's a good thing to say that growing up. I didn't really even know there were different kinds of Lutherans So I was brought up in a church that was previously part of the ELSA which was the Swedish Lutheran Denomination Even the my family was German but that church became part of the LCA. And when I met my husband in college he was like. Oh Yeah I'm Lutheran two. Oh that's awesome The he and I both found out that he was Missouri. Synod Lutheran and when I came to worship with his family for the first time I realized that they had to ask vessel permission from the pastor in order for me to commune with them and at that point I started to learn a little more about these huge differences between the Missouri Senate. And you'll see a deal is much more dominant in Minnesota But there's still a lot of different groups and it's again just kind of a sad reflection of the ways that That we've become really defined by social issues rather than by the Gospel. I think so right to sort of ECHO. Your experience group United Methodist and the small town United Methodist Church before moving to the Chicago suburbs and went to A. I don't know I don't know what the light classification for megachurches. I don't know if it's like twenty twenty five hundred or so. I mean it's it was like on it was on. The border is technically United Methodist Church And but it was very very different And I I didn't even learn until like I enrolled at and yet Wesleyan. How different like the Wesleyan church was from the United Methodist Church and that there were free methodist and all these other things so I mean an ecumenical relations and understanding even just within within churches I I. It's understandable that like our younger teenage selves. Didn't know that like adults you'd think might know a little bit more about each other. Yeah yeah ignorant. Maybe was bliss though for a little bit. Yeah that's also true. That's also true so I'm very curious. What made you want to write this book Clearly you have this. You have these personal experiences of participating in all these different different types of church traditions. Different denominations things like that. What was it that spurred you to want to research this book and travel to all the different parts of the country that you did in order to investigate this question of why these voters voted for Donald Trump. Yeah so I think the the best part about the book for me. Was it combined two things that have been really pretty equally strong calling in my life have been. I this calling into journalism and This calling to as journalists to give people the opportunity to tell their own stories not to tell their stories for them not to say who they are but to give them the opportunity to to tell their stories in their own words in order being the conduit to do that and then that second calling to also really apply the Gospel to modern American Life. And to say okay. This is everything that's happening politically was happening in our country. And how does that line up with what we've learned about Jesus to his life death and resurrection so ultimately I got to do that in red state Christians journey ticket. There was a little bit surprising and unexpected. During the two thousand sixteen election I was serving as pastor of community life and discipleship of a large again. You know on the Mega Church border maybe congregation. In Your Belinda. California which is in Orange County in Happens to be the birthplace of Richard Nixon And really an area that is heavily influenced by conservative. Even though Christianity and by megachurches Saddleback was nearby mariners was nearby Crystal Cathedral And so the church that I worked out while we were technically a Lutheran Church. The pastor and myself had both frontal Lutheran seminary but most of our church staff came much more from a Bible college background from places like Viola the Bible Institute of Los Angeles so I watched the twenty sixteen election as a pastor in this environment and really kind of after the election. Sort of put on my journalist hat ascension sort of step back to watch and see and it was really troubled by the ways that that the twenty sixteen election became so important as an identity marker for Christians in particular and because of that it became really divisive even in my own congregation. That people maybe didn't sit together after church anymore. There was so much defensiveness There were just a lot more experiences that people had around racism for instance And so at the same time I was also being shaped by how much we love this community and how my family shaped by the preschool. That my son attended at our church. And how we were learning about the Holy Spirit through contemporary worship and so the the sort of mixed experience and After watching that for a few years a couple of years my husband actually had the opportunity to take a job back in Minneapolis. Which is where I grew up And we really Kinda wanted to get closer to family and I was also feeling called to write more publicly to get back to the journalists work that I'd done in the past when you work at such configuration you're consumed by it and you can really do all your work within that space for the institution and I felt like I was being called maybe to write for people who would never take foot inside my church so we moved back to Minneapolis. I was doing some work writing Sunday. School curriculum. For Fortress Press and kind of over lunch told some people you know. Hey I have an idea for a book. They adjusted I submitted. A pitch and the initial book was titled. Bibles and boob jobs and it was tall extensively focused on Orange County and just started that. I do think that Orange I mean tells a big story about the election of Donald Trump because Orange County megachurches where some of the first to really embrace celebrity culture pop culture in conservative Christianity and celebrity pastors. Like Rick Warren. You know coming out of these churches and so I think that for Conservative. Evangelical Christians to embrace a pop culture celebrity president trump. The groundwork was really set in a lot of these southern California megachurches. But you know fortress press got my idea and I had lunch with editor and he said you know we actually really want to do. A book called Red State Christians. And we want you to look at the whole country. Would you be open to doing that? And that's when I started to Sorta tell him about the third piece of this book for me. Which is a personal piece that is my parents are both kind of moderate. Democrats for the most part And then my inlaws we're always sort of moderate Republicans. They voted back and forth But through the twice sixteen election became really big trump supporters and attended rallies and have had in our big donators and so this was like a personal experience for me as well watching a divided political family and experiencing how that affected our faith. I'm sure that that part. Especially the personal element that you mentioned just at the at the in there is very relatable for a lot of people that are listening to this show. And I'm I'm curious and this is something that will come back to you and it's probably gonna be the thrust of a lot of my questions for you. As the sense of to help people reach such different conclusions. I guess about what the Gospel means or what. Christianity means as it relates to politics and society. My work has generally y with people that have been harmed by evangelicalism. So my my sort of bridges are focused. A lot of times between people that are still religious and people who are no longer religious but are all have all been removed or have left the Evangelical Community but you've entered into these evangelical spaces with the interest of trying to understand why this support for trump was so widespread And each person when confronted with the question of trump seems to have had a little bit different mental calculus about why they supported them You do this really good thing. I do this. Great thing in your book By visiting these actual locations and most of your chapters are about these regions in the United States. Could you talk? Let's talk a little bit first about the sort of nationalism that you saw in the south in Texas what what did you see? And what was it that drew people drew evangelicals in particular to trump in that area of the country. Yeah I think One of the things. I didn't necessarily anticipate when I began. My research was just the degree to which Christian? Nationalism was really influential throughout trump's entire crushing in coalition of voters But it operated really differently in different regions so particularly what I noticed in Texas and a few different places but especially when I visited Preston would baptist church in Plano. I noticed that the Christian nationalism that was practiced was really theologically tied and it was really theologically tied In a lot of senses to the Old Testament to a sense of theology of land a theology that almost echoes in some ways. American Mormon latter-day Saints Theology. That is this idea that America holds a status as the promised land in an analogous way to Israel holding us a status is the promised land. And so there's this sense of Of Manifest destiny of Christians. There's an apocalyptic theology that that the end of the world is ours right around the corner and so that inch introduces a lot of fear into American politics especially for Christians growing up under this theology. And it's also I would say that this this theology of America is taught so explicitly In some of these southern Baptist churches that I that I attended and experienced That it it totally crowds out most of the other parts of Jesus message Jesus desire for us to care for the poor. Jesus desire for us to forgive one another. Jesus desire for us to do justice to to let the oppressed go free the Christian nationalism teaching so strong in these teachings that really crowded everything else whereas maybe in other parts of the country. There's a vague sense of Christian nationalism but people aren't hearing it as explicitly in their congregations. They're kind of coming to it on their own through this sort of idea of love. The flag support the military But it's definitely not as illogically explicit Do you think that breaks through to the national level at any in any way and then through media coverage or through through policies that are acted by people within the trump administration. Oh yeah one hundred percent And I really think that I would. I would like to see more attention. Paid to the ways in which the type of Balaji promotes a certain type of anti-semitism which is cloaked. By this sense that American Israel our friends in American American evangelical and Israelis are on the same team. They're really covers this again. Sense of American Christian destiny that ultimately you know says that Jews either repent or they aren't saved but there's it's really covered up by this sense that you know we're on the same team until the policies like moving the embassy to Jerusalem or Even some of the Anti Iran rhetoric that of course we're experiencing the aftermath of right now all sort of relates to a very literal reading of the book of revelation and also the Old Testament. And that's that's highly relevant within the last four days because due to the assassination of Sulejmani As well as at today's Day Economic Engine News January seventh twenty twenty and there have been retaliatory attacks. I just this evening and US basis in Iraq from Iran because of these actions that have been fueled in large part due to the same sorts of things that you're talking about now to the fallout of just increased violence and this is a very violent theology and violence that's occurring in worshiping communities over the holidays just a few weeks ago a shooting at a church in Texas as well as a stabbing that happened to the whole at an Orthodox Jewish home. You know so. We're seeing this violence theology of that that we must protect our promised. Land America And again the most tragic part about it. I mean it's hard to pick a most tragic products but one of the most tragic parts about it for me. Is that it just totally clouds out and crowds out the life death resurrection of Jesus and everything that Jesus talked about. is just really lost in this theology. And I think that's why some of the Southern Baptist pastors that explodes said that they really consider it. A Gospel distortion than the school has been distorted to reflect. American patriotism American strength American military might to the detriment of people even knowing the story of Jesus or understanding the sermon on the Mount or the parables or any of the things that have been really central to American Christianity. Despite no matter what brand of Christianity you practice those have been attendance of American Christianity to varying degrees On this topic of a violence You do have an entire chapter. That's called God and guns and it really addresses this directly at noon. Visit at a church that is in Florida that is known for having people in the pews who are armed and he mentioned just this that this this recent headline again Within the last couple of weeks of of a church that had an active shooter And there were actually people in the pews that also had were also armed and trump use that to as a sense of this is why people need guns like into to rally his base He he posted. Excuse me I can't quote his tweets But nonetheless like that was seen as as a justification for For Lax Safety and gun control laws here in the United States. Do you think that the churches that are so pro second amendment or pro guns? Do you think that they have a sense that they are defending this? This violence do they or do they feel it's justified or do they feel that. It's us a sense of more of self assertion and the right to bear arms and that sort of identity politics that that is so important to a lot of people that are conservative. Yeah I mean again. I think it's really a mix and that is the important thing to remember when we're talking about all this but I say that I will say that the Church that Tin Florida Not only are there. People creation who are are armed but that churches very explicit about the fact that the pastors are armed and when I went to worship that night I it was actually the youth night worship that I went to and the pastor that night actually made to me. He's like well I'm not carrying tonight So maybe some of it is a little bit of Wester. But he did say you know. I've got my permanent. It's really important to me to have a concealed carry permit and what I noticed in that congregation was that this sense of Of Gun rights was really coupled with in that congregation A theological sense that Christianity in America is under attack and that it must be defended violently. So even the sermon that I listened to that night Again there's this real sense that the end of the world is very real. It's very possible and Christians must be willing to defend against whatever comes toward the end of the world and the leader of the church. So he wasn't pastoring the night that I went there. But his name is Rodney Howard Brown. And he's I think written a recent book called killing Uncle Sam and it started this book cover with like a bloody American flag and Uncle Sam and just really this sense that that Christianity in America must be violently defensive of its faith. And how the interesting thing about that? Is that Rodney Howard. Brown is south. African a native longtime American and he started represents this global brand of PENTECOSTAL ISM and Prosperity Gospel. That he's merged in America with a southern Baptist sense and conservative Christian sense of you know God guns and America Apple Pie football all those things and it's it's interesting to see these things come together and you have to wonder What the real motivation is especially for somebody like Rodney Howard Brown You know I wonder if I think. A lot of the motivation is financial. That this is it's lucrative turn preach this type of message and people are willing to buy books and you know watch services and give money to defend America and then saw a couple that with. That was my experience there and I do think that that is a very real danger in. It's a growing edge in American Christianity. I will also say that. I spoke to a lot of pastors particularly in rural areas. Where there's A. There's a large long tradition of hunting culture here in the midwest of course in Minnesota big culture of deer hunting and I currently am the pastor of a church in a small town about an hour. West of Minneapolis. And I honestly don't know if there are people in my congregation who are who are armed and I can see a sense where for people who guns are part of rural life and culture that they see as part of okay. If I'm comfortable using a gun at this is how I see as protecting my church. I'm glad that you know. The gunman in Texas was taken out before he do more damage. But it's really really hard to think about sanctuary of being a place where we're there are guns and I say that as somebody who I didn't grow up you know around guns Mine Krampe hot. A bunch of hundreds of small stuff in he like shot his toe off Other than that my parents weren't hunters so I don't have that yet. Yeah and I'd I come from a similar background of my family. I grew up in a small town in Indiana with Like sixteen thousand people. My my parents are from an even smaller town. And that's where a lot of my extended family stayed. My parents were the ones that that moved away and so I was the one that was. I was literally called the city kid growing up by my by my cousins and stuff. And you're right like in rural areas like there is an element of hunting and and gun culture being just prevalent and part of the fabric of of culture. There and a lot of these communities are are also or historically were racially homogeneous there are other elements there too however like there is a pretty big distinction between someone having a twenty two to shoot a deer or to scare things off their farm and fifteens spat do. Do you think that those things have been conflated by the sort of preaching of coming for our guns like that is something that admittedly a lot of liberals will say it to? Lamb BAST CONSERVATIVE CONCERNS. But do you think that those things have been conflated in the pulpit or another places so that like you said to gin up support or to sell books. Yeah yeah absolutely and I think that As a journalist. I always try to pay attention to the media's role in all of this and I do think that that's this idea of creating a straw man argument in the case of guns rights supporters. You know creating this argument that they want to take your guns. I don't think that there's ever I mean maybe in a few kisses I guess better over recently buyback program but I don't think there's ever been a large American political desire to take away hunting from rural Americans But there is. There's been a strumming created on both sides that that doesn't really exist decree fear and to incite violence and that. I do want to pivot a little bit and continue talking about your visits to rural areas that that to me was it was very interesting just because again. I have family that live in those areas. there's a vested interest and there's a vested just common interest in in there being a broader discussion between people that live in these areas and the urban centers ran as people like the general trend. Globally is towards city centers however within the United States rural areas still maintain considerable political clout. So they need to be and one of the things that to me was was interesting. Was the sense in some areas of just. This sort of people being aggrieved of feeling they were were overlooked by the Democratic Party Could you talk about that and where you where you saw that? And how that intersected with support for trump and the justification that people had for trump and for supporting him despite him demonstrating pretty clear misogyny clear indications of racism no indication of Christ like Qualities of any sort and love to hear you talk about that. Yeah I think this is another case. Where Republicans have been really successful in creating a narrative and in some cases. I think that there's a lot of Reasonable agreement among people living. In communities that are poverty stricken whether they're rural poverty poverty stricken area as such as Appalachia many places in the south someplace in the West. Or whether they're urban centers that are poverty stricken but what? Republicans have done in. A lot of cases is to saying that For rural whites who are living in situations of poverty that you need to blame People of color or you need to blame. Lgbtq community rather than An overall sense that because we have so much money in American politics. It's very difficult for people living in any sort of poverty to have any kind of voice in politics because our political culture so dictated by money by lobbyists by political ads and by campaigning. And so one thing that I really noticed. Throughout the book is really considerable. Grass Roots Organization gap between Republicans and Democrats and particularly between conservative Christians progressive or maybe mainland Christians. That I noticed this even I went to in two thousand eighteen and went to the march for life which is the antiabortion march on Washington against Roe. V To repeal where v Wade and then the day after the march for life I went to the women's march on Washington and it was really apparent just even in those comparing those two marches. That Republican organizers Really have a leg up when it comes to grassroots organizing and just The entrenchment in so many of these communities and I think some of that is just the difference in personality between the two parties But it's really led to a huge gap of just. I talk to voters in South Dakota. I was doing a book. Presentation in Sioux falls a couple of months ago and intact with few people that said you know voted my whole life and I just can't stomach a lot of things about trump and I really am looking to maybe move into the Democratic Party. But there's just no party organization in South Dakota for Democrats and they didn't even know where to begin because Republicans are just so taken for granted as this is the party in so many rural communities across America. Yeah that's that's very interesting in some some people who haven't necessarily may maybe having lived in rural areas they don't they may just assume that rural equals conservative. Do you think that that is just a concession that Democrats and and even other progressives will have have have made and and what do you think can counter that? Yeah I definitely think that happens and I I even have to. You know not be a hypocrite when I say that because I even think back to of done so many book presentations in red states in conservative areas. And you know I'll have people come to the talks and sometimes like a an older man may be in his seventies. We'll get up to talk and he'll be wearing like a a shirt that indicates he's a veteran and like some sort of military hat in. I will assume that he's GonNa say something Maybe critical of my research or that. He is going to be relieved. Defensive of trump in oftentimes. I'm wrong and I just noticed for myself that that I'm doing the same thing that so many of us have done which is just automatically put people into categories based on what they look like where they're from how old they are. And I think that that's been really unhelpful. Because I do think that there's been a lack of articulation of a democratic message in rural areas in red states and so many voters you know. Democrats have taken for granted especially African American voters across much of the south. And so I think that there needs to be much more of a democratic articulation for example when it comes to abortion you know I think Democrats really need to listen to people of faith when it comes to talking about abortion in saying what does what does it mean to Democrats. Talk about sanctity of life. Because Democrats can't talk about their work on anti-poverty issues. They can't talk about their work on working against oppression injustice anti capital punishment. All those things are about sanctity of life but Democrats often don't seem to know how to use religious language and so they seed so much of that territory to Republicans who often only pay lip service to it but instinctively seemed to know how to use that religious language in a way. That sounds more familiar to a lot of red state voters. Do you think that's true in the twenty twenty cycle as well? Just because I'm there have been a lot of democratic nominees are people seeking the Democratic nomination including Elizabeth Warren and people to judge and and others who have spoken about the role of faith in their lives You recently I know that that Elizabeth Warren spoke about the role of the biblical tradition as it relates to bankruptcy law and Buddha. Judge has has certainly talked about his faith and other people seeking the Democratic nomination have talked about the role of faith in their lives. Cory Booker early on talked about his relationship with a with a Jewish pain. And why he how? He has explored faith in religion and spirituality. And do you think that that's still in Maine as true as they're just still a disconnect because of the lack of Sheraton language because to me like languages language as as so much of it right like able to talk like someone else really really matters. Yes yeah I was feeling really hopeful. You know at the beginning particularly about The Dejan just some of the ways that he wanted to be open about his faith in to talk about it as the election cycle has found on I have found that even though he is really often quick to talk into cite scripture. Sometimes he tends to do it in the last few debates notice he he does it in a way that sort of does the same thing that that Republicans have done for so many years which is to say where the Real Christians until the night here. Search jets during the day will know where the real questions because this is anything that that can be sort of effective but I think that a lot of voters it just still can still be sort of painted as elitist her talked about you know like with Warren talking about the bankruptcy law. I actually didn't see that but I was hopeful when she was asked about abortion in the last debate and she was asked if there was room for pro life. Democrats within the Democratic Party. And she sort of Said you. It's not it's not up to me to say who can come in the Democratic Party and the answer but I really would have loved to hear her talk about sanctity of life not use some of the I think like you say languages so powerful instead. He used some of these same terms of to talk about prayer. I think is just continues to be a learning curve for Democrats and the class issue is such a big one too in. It's so interesting because of course trump grip in New York City You know tons and tons of money but he finds a way to speak the language of working class Americans in a Lotta ways even just by talking about McDonald's or spelling words wrong and I'm not suggesting that Democrats do that But I am suggesting that maybe it begins with with listening more with with pudding some energy into grassroots networks in these communities and also I really think that some of the most important things to do our listen to Color many of them who come from red states who come from conservative communities and listen to the ways that they've worked in those communities and also To really listen to at Democrats who come from Red State. Tina somebody like Doug Jones some of these new people who are elected tenderhorn elected in Oklahoma. We really need to listen to people who are working in these communities to help have a really apathetic kind of communication. That's a really good segue because I I do WanNa talk to you about how race comes up in your book Because it is it is prevalent. I mean is. It is a huge part of of American life. Racism and the the consequences of slavery. it's something that we deal with whether we're conscious of it or not every day it's part of part of the the American of American history and of American life and I understand the the the pitfalls of two white people talking about race but within the context of your book you do talk and you interview a number of people of color. African Americans Latinos people in different faith communities And whether they're evangelical or not and some of them are and I I do. I learned through the process of doing the show to really specify white evangelical them to be the main thing that I talk about. However a lot of these people of color that you spoke to you are in predominantly white congregations predominantly white traditions. So when you spoke to these these people that are in these communities that could be an very likely are hostile to them Whether overtly or just implicitly what was their reaction what was their risk their response and I know you've written a whole book about it and that's that's the hard thing about having an interview about about an entire book. Is You know we're we're trying to consolidate into something. Had to have people reader. Read your work to speak to a little bit even a of examples that come to mind for you of of how these people reacted to the election. I'm trump in the general tenor of political and social discussion. Yes Oh definitely. People come to mind One of the first people that comes to mind when he asked about this is a pastor named West Timothy Kuna and at the time when I was doing my chapter on Orange County He was one of the pastors at Mariners. Church Irvine which is the seventh largest church in America and is also located. In some of America's wealthiest real estate Right near Newport coast not too far from Laguna Beach Just Really Really Expensive Area Immaculate Campus. And so when I met pastor with I met him at that evening's youth nights service and he gave this really powerful message talking about humility and it was really hasn't been travelling to all these different congregations and hearing a lot of messages about power about defensiveness and you have to defend our country. His message released it out as a different message in one that was really tied to to the story of Jesus and the sense that We need to love and to listen to one another. I and so when I talked to pass arrest after the service and learned a little bit more about him He comes from a half Mexican half Tongan background. He played football in college and was in the process of getting his ministry degree of talking to him and he'd worked at Mariners for a few years at that point and he told me some really tough things about the experience that he had working in this predominantly white wealthy context. He occasionally got to preach at sort of the big services on Sunday morning in the big church and he said when he did so he actually had people say to him. You know. We're not used to seeing Brown people. Deliver the message were used to. Seeing Brown people be the recipient of sort of our charity at the Church and so they were really vocal about their lack of familiarity with someone who looked like him giving the sermon. He also told me about lots of times at Church that he would be mistaken for a member of the Brown ground. Screw that people come up and tell them. Oh you know you need to water here. You need to fix this plant here. He'd be in the cafe and people would come up to you. Know think that like oh. Can you get me? You know this kind of coffee so he he already had sort of this sense of discomfort with being in this congregation while at the same time he was this face in this voice for the youth of the congregation and this really powerful speaker. A lot of people saw in him in example of somebody who who they wanted to be like And so this this duality since a mission in his time at Mariners and when I talked to him about the election of two thousand sixteen. He told me that he started. Has This network those a lot of other people of color working in large evangelical megachurches and he told me that often They're put on sort of the outreach. That for the mission staff or they're placed in particular roles often not the senior pastor role not the head administrative roles but roles that sort of put them in mission or outreach type work and he said that many of them were talking to each other after the election and talking about just this feeling of and fear and worry because of many of the racial instance that happened around. Donald Trump's election. And that would happen later. Things like Charlottesville these you know Neo Nazi groups who were supporting trump and saying that. He's embracing their message into West. Told me that that when the election happened in him in these other colleagues he knew who were people of color were feeling hopeless and betrayed and worried at that same time in their church offices their white colleagues were celebrating and rejoicing. And saying this is the best thing whatever happened. He's going to be the best president we've ever had. And there was this huge disconnect and he said that as time went on there was really unwillingness By his white colleagues and colleagues and other churches to really listen to the experience of people of Color. And why this election felt in looks so different to them and there was just really an unwillingness to hear their stories. And so this whole experience is that pastor. West few months I think maybe a year after I interviewed him he ended up leaving mariners and going now to work at another church in Orange County. That was founded by another sort of person of color. Who had worked at a large mega church? Who LEFT TO START HIS OWN CHURCH? So it's it's sad to me that That there's been this closing out of those voices from Wipe megachurches but I'm also I guess hopeful that some of this might at some point. Be A wakeup call at the same time. When I talk about that I also do have to say that part of my work in the book was really blocking the Meth. That that evangelical who voted for trump were a monolith so I did spend ever really interesting chapter from Houston where I spent my time with Arab American Christians and talk to them about their support for trump but also some of their disillusionment so it was important for me to sort of show all the different phases of what it looked like in among even jobs when it came to Donald Trump. Yeah and that's not I mean that's certainly not an easy easy task and people are not caricatures like people have have depth and nuance to them. Certainly what you? What you mentioned about Pastor Tanna. I hope I'm pronouncing his name properly. And is that you know the the own assume the burden should not have been on him. In any of those ways those instances he described to you or in some instances of racism. Mike and I appreciate that that you throughout the book you you do not shy away from from indicating when things are openly racist like because. I think that's important for people that that are not people of Color for white people to be able to point out and say this is an appropriate. This is this is not the right. Sort of tenor. Or don't Ya. It's good for people to point out when things are racist And that is one the things even in your conclusion. You say you know you never know. You never tried to whitewash anything. When you saw indications of nationalism more racism in the places they visited you noted that certainly there were elements of Hyun humanity that shone through even despite those things but to your point. It's deeply unfortunate that that people chose either a political affiliation or Support of an administration. That doesn't deserve their support. Or that doesn't emulates the life of Christ in any sort way. It's just a it's a loss and it's something that. I think I grieve and I think people who whether they identify as exponential Jellicoe or what have you however they relate to that term. Personally I think it's more of an adjective than a noun. It indicates that a prior relationship. They're like tiny little death by a thousand cuts. And so the sense this this grief that the tradition that may have shaped you and may have led you to become politically liberal is so the word I want uses violently opposed to the life of Christ. And what the ethics they. He seems to have indicated in as shown in the Gospel texts. Yeah Yeah I think that there's a lot of sadness and there's a lot of wreckage and there's a lot of people trying to put the pieces back together This past for I met in El Paso Aerial Martinez He is a liberty grads Southern Baptist. Pastor working you know right at the. Us Mexico border and really trying to to see his fellow El Paso residents in his churchgoers as human beings whether they're undocumented whether they're military members whether they were for the border patrol. I really saw a lot of hope in El Paso and in him and in the stories of a lot of Latinos Christians who I met their chapter was very powerful and one of the. He's he spoke to a woman trying to find her last night. Her first name last name is Guzman Rosemary Rosemary Kouzmin. She talked about growing up in Bolivia and she talks about her own. Prejudices towards other I letting people Based on because of the media that that she was shown and she says I've changed now. I'm all gray. Not Black and white and God is okay with that and I I yeah. I appreciated that quite a bit. They that you could share that in the book. Yeah she's she's done the work That's what I'm trying to hold onto you know in these days where we're facing Iranian retaliatory strikes. Were you know murdering people around the globe by drones? I'm trying to hold onto a sense of hope and the hope that I find is in the stories of a lot of these anonymous Christians around the country many of them you know not famous many of them working in places that are difficult And and many of them are evangelical of Color Christians of Color. And they're really the ones who I look to when I need to remember hope and I think that truly represent in American Christianity that for too long has allied itself with power with money with government. And that's not the legacy that Jesus desired. I don't think for the Church that were were required to be a resistance movement a movement independent of the government and movement that really HEWS closely to to the story of Jesus Book into our conversation with ad question as far as how we have these conversations with within our own families. This is certainly an open question even for me personally One of the in your conclusion. E-right red-state Christians or my family. They're your family there you for me. This book is not about some other America that I had to excavate and uncover like an archaeologist rather for me this book is about America itself and ultimately uncovering myself and my family and my faith. I that really resonated with me again being like being from a place like Indiana And like being from a place like I was from Central Indiana my extended families from Kentuckiana. Like even within a place like Indiana. There's there's difference of degrees. How do you think having written this book? Having traveled across the country. How do you think predominantly white families can discuss these family? These matters political matters matters of faith and how they entangle so much in the United States because there are so many things at play there's even generational things play. It's not easy for millennials to talk to boomers about lots of things of of import because the whole okay boom like i. That became a grievance millennials have legitimate grievances and and boomers and boomers have. There's a recent study that they are actually more narcissistic millennials. So like each each side has ammo so to speak but at the same time like their families should be able to talk about these things. They need to talk about these things. I know that there are commentators of Color Online. Who are like you know? White people talk to your talk to your people and even folks that who may listen to this show that started in a conservative place even personally And had migrated to a liberal understanding of Christianity of the world politics. What do you see as a way forward in those conversations then that we have with one another? Yeah I mean it's a it's a question for me to something. I still work through even as I have these conversations with strangers and talk about my book all over the country. You know when I'm talking to my in laws about politics. I still don't quite know the best ways to approach it in the best ways to do it but I do think at if you are listening to this right now and you're someone who came From an evangelical background or came from a conservative background. Or still kind of on your own journey I do think that that God is is calling you into into mission right now is calling you to play an important role in the future of our country because I think that that those of us who come from those kind of places those of us who exist in in spaces that are not only liberal. are really important to this country. And what I've found is that there's a lot of people who feel like they haven't been listened to and a lot of people who feel misunderstood and the first step is always to listen to each other and to really understand where somebody's coming from before you can begin to say okay. Well this is the correct. This is what I think because the beginning of a lot of this work is just disarming one another whether it's literally trying to disarm each other of our assault rifles or whether it's trying to disarm one another emotionally to be able. A lot of people are so defensive in so anxious so frustrated that to even think about understanding the position of someone else understanding somebody else's needs they just can't get there until they. I feel like but no you have to understand me. I and I think that we have to do that together. And we have to do it in person and we have. We can't do it over social media. We can't do it over the Internet because there's so much the most hateful things that I heard when I talked to people almost always came out from like oh I saw this on the internet or I saw his from this political pundit or I saw it on twitter and so much of that stems from a place that is being used maliciously by Russia by government actors by people creating propaganda into. We really have to have these conversations in person and beginning with those closest to you and that's very important and it's something that that a lot of us struggle with and again includes me. Well pray pray. Well Angela I do I appreciate you coming on and talking about your book and everything that went into it Where can people find the book? Can they find you online or elsewhere? Yeah so you can get the book wherever books are sold. It's at a lot of barnes and nobles over the country. It's on Amazon If you get it on the Fortress Press Website. That's even better. Also if you go to fortress press dot com slash Red State Christians. I can find a free discussion guide. If you're interested in talking about the book in a small group or in a in a book club or at Your Church That's a really good tool to sort of start to have some of these conversations where you feel like okay. Here's some questions that can lead into and I don't have to come up with them on my own. You can also go to Angela. Denker DOT COM to see upcoming events where I'll be talking about the book and to read some of the things. I've been writing wrestle in my blog. Enjoy thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you happy New Year. It's GonNa get better. I hope so aw.