Could the Religious Right be Wrong? (#690)

What if the religious right is religiously wrong? That's the question Paul Swearengin wrestles with in his new book, Joseph Comes to Town. This fictional tale considers how Jesus might have engaged people if he had come in our century, to the current political climate of the United States. A former pastor from a politically active marriage, Paul has a unique vantage point to wrestle with this important subject matter and has crafted an engaging story that will make you think about it yourself. He joins Wayne for a discussion about the current state of politics and how it reflects on evangelicals and the Gospel. They also discuss a Time article about how President Trump manipulates the fear of many Christians to solidfy their support. WARNING: If you don't enjoy honest political dialog, feel free to skip this one.

Podcast Notes:
Email Paul
Paul's website: The Nonpartison Evangelical
Order Paul's Book
Time article: Evangelicals Are Supporting Trump Out of Fear
If You Can Help Us in Kenya


  1. Full disclosure – I love both of these men, but I have to say WELL DONE! One of my favorite podcasts ever. And it’s right in the pocket of what we face as believers in the current culture. Thank you for this.

  2. Hi Wayne and Paul, I so enjoyed this podcast. I am not from that US but have been increasingly concerned about the state of the “fear based” political discourse in recent years, and not only in the USA. In this podcast you discussed so many of those issues in such a clear and sensible way it was so refreshing. THANK YOU, I have just downloaded the book, and look forward to reading it 🙂

  3. Hi Wayne & Paul,
    Thanks for the great conversation! I loved it.

  4. Bravo! However I’m afraid the book’s subtitle is going to keep the intended audience from reading the book, and that is so unfortunate. I’m a pastor of a rural church, engaged in this same battle. I’d pay my church members to read this book if they would, or at least listen to this podcast. Simply put, America is the Church’s biggest idol going, and Donald Trump is its Messiah. We’re no different than the disciples asking Jesus (after hearing about the true Kingdom for three years), “Are you now going to restore the kingdom of Israel back to us?” No wonder He promptly ascended into Heaven upon hearing those words. I’d hightail it out of there faster than you could leave a board meeting! And I say all this as a proud military mom and patriot. But this world is NOT our home and the Great Commission is NOT to go ye into all the country and make conservatives!

  5. hi! great engaging podcast and I do plan on reading the book. As someone who has lived with and hopefully thru the ugly dramas of affairs and bottle addiction, some times these discussions of showing “Christian love” toward those living life styles I would not choose for myself or the border related issues seem unbalanced without the discussion of boundaries. God’s love is not co-dependent nor enabling nor to be legalisticly applied – individually its healing, hope-filled and transformative. Some of these discussions feel more like the words I have heard in the past – “forgive, return to a very toxic environment and love” or “dump and forget”. I am all for valuing all humanity but do not feel its always loving to permit others choices to leave me as the victim – be it the pocket book, sense of security or even freedom of expression. I believe its the government role to first protect the nations sovereignty so that those with the gifting and resources can practically apply God’s true love to individuals. Maybe I am super sensitive to any undercurrent of shaming/guilting when I am not passionately subscribing with open arms and willing to celebrate all dysfunction whether at the family, culture or global levels. I believe in His love God does have boundaries and I need to apply the same boundary or I could be undermining His working as I did in my own dysfunctional relationship.
    Thank you for continuing to podcast and looking forward to what Brad has been up to.

  6. Look forward to reading this. SO thankful for Christian voices as yourselves. I was a part of a bible study and one of the questions was what problems face the church today…the questions and study were subtly leading the answers to be the “crazy culture” ….everyone was shy to answer so I got to share one problem I felt was thinking politics equals God or taking Gods name in vain by putting Gods name to “conservative” religious right politics. Got to share how it really hurts our witness and turns people farther away from “Christianity”. Then some started in on identity being a problem the church faces and I agreed that wow if the church knew their identity in who we are in Christ that would solve a lot…but then I realized they were talking of physical identity…the transgender culture. It’s crazy how deceived christians can be to think the problem is outward when the Bible says if to judge judge inwardly. I’m thankful for this book and hope to pass it along to friends and family.

  7. I think it is real sad when instead of focusing on Jesus this turns political. I have been a fan of your podcasts Wayne but feel you are completely wrong about evangelicals voting for Trump out of fear- where is your facts on this other then Time magazine (which how do you not know this is not bias towards the view of the left?). I do believe that both sides of the political spectrum, both left and the right, have failed this country miserably and so both Democrats (maybe not the majority) and Republicans voted an OUTSIDER not someone within the beltway of Washington, DC to lead. Yes Trump is rough around the edges and crude (as WE ALL HAVE OUR WEAKNESSES) BUT he is the only one who is doing something about the corruption of DC, UNLIKE any of our politicians have ever done. If I were anyone here I would look objectively not subjectively at what Trump has done while in office. It is the fruit of someone that matters – check on and look at ALL the accomplishments and then make your judgements. Trump is the only one that is actively trying to take on human trafficking and the immigration issue (which by the way has alot to do with drugs and human trafficking)- go find out, you will see the statistics. Trump is the only president who is on a continual basis lifting up our military and civil servants; Trump also has helped our economic status in this country tremendously. So before, making blanket statements of how evangelicals FEAR and so we voted Trump in for that, look at the results that has and is producing good fruit. I voted for Trump out of good conscience and yes maybe there was a fear that was in on that motivation, but rightly so for I did not want to see this precious country go down the tubes to the likes of those who hated it. So call us that, thats fine- I have no regrets of my vote whatsoever.

    • (From Wayne): Hi Faith. We talk about everything on The God Journey, including politics. I think Jesus cares about that, too. I’m sorry this wasn’t to your liking. We always warn in the description if it gets political, so people who would rather not hear it can skip it. But I’m not sure you’re being fair to the podcast. We did talk about many of Trump’s policies being to our liking and that there were good reasons to vote for Trump given the choices. No one is asking you to regret your vote. Is it not possible to hold two things true at the same time: (1) President Trump has done some things I really like. (2) President Trump’s personal character is abysmal and his ability to speak kindly of people who disagree with him is nonexistent. He belittles people he doesn’t like. And the reason I read from the TIME article is that I agreed with it. No, it doesn’t describe all of his supporters, but it describes many of the religious leaders I know who will speak one way of Trump in public and another way behind his back. Many are motivated by the fear that America is getting away from its Biblical roots and that Christians will come to be persecuted. These are things worth talking about and respecting each other beyond our differences. At least, that’s my hope.

  8. I think Faith is right about the vast majority of those who voted for Mr. Trump. But this can be subtle. There is always an element of fear in political choice. This is especially true when major issues include cleaning up messes – inherently, we don’t look forward to the messes not being cleaned up. When is this fear? That can make for a good discussion. If you want to see what real fear looks like, look to the left. I had a major change in my prayer focus when some months ago I realized that while it may be true that many young people are misinformed and just plain wrong about things they fear (e.g. the world coming to an end due to climate change, being unsafe if a conservative speaks on a camputs etc.), they actually are anxious and afraid. This is a very sad place to be and my prayer focus changed to praying for redemption from anxiety and fear. I know from experience that for many, the Holy Spirit takes them on paths in that redemption in which their politics may change in times and ways far from what I might expect. But my prayer is for redemption from the anxiety and fear. A people free in Jesus may come up with better political ideas than me and I pray to see that as it happens.

  9. I thought the subtitle was misleading. I think the podcast dealt with issues that need discussed – namely the balance of participating in politics in a participatory system of government like ours (where it is a duty to participate) and avoiding the trap of being so wrapped up in politics that we loose sight of the need for redemption in Jesus one by one. I was disappointed that more was not said about how the religious right has been very right about the lawless left. The religious right has, I believe, been very right in warnings about the effects of tolerating vile forms of lawlessness. I think we under appreciate the blessing we have of living in a nation with the rule of law, and law that is by and large, there to punish evil doers. Still, it was good to listen to the opening of what I think are much needed discussions about strategy and tactics. Even in something with as clear cut a moral foundation as abortion, I think Christians need to be able to debate strategy and tactics without calling each other heretics. For example, at a personal level, if I have $500 to give to the “abortion cause”, do I give it a political party, a candidate I know well, my local pregnancy center (whose work I value in supporting pregnant women during and after birth), a personal friend supporting someone in keeping a child etc. Such questions don’t have universal answers for all times and places in my opinion. Not dealing with the things that are right about the “religious right” I think weakens the important discussion about the trap we can lead ourselves into of depending on politics to bring salvation.

    I was a little frustrated in the podcast (and maybe the book will help) that there were not more specific discussions on major issues. When I hear lines like “there is another way to think about abortion or homosexuality”, I get prepared for some real nonsense. In this case, thankfully, I think my worst assumptions turned out to be wrong. But such lines carry a lot of political baggage when what we need is open discussion about specific tactics and actions to help all of us balance the political as just one aspect of life with everything else we may be called to do and pray.

    I like being challenged in my thinking – but it has to be with enough specifics to wrestle with.

    • I personally LOVE the subtitle and feel it’s exactly what is needed to wake the religious right up to how much of the voice coming from the religious right is hindering the gospel and hindering LOVE to our neighbor. Maybe the religious right that are saying they are right and not wrong can listen to comments that are being made and said in their circles and check it with what Jesus would say and do? That might be helpful. It’s fine to recognize the religious right doing good in areas but the very fact of the religious name to it and putting God to it brings their words and actions to a higher standard…standard that needs to be checked with what Jesus did and said.
      It’s obvious there is fear based politics from both mainstream parties…fear of climate change, fear of “homosexual agenda”, fear of Muslims, what if we didn’t have the media and news to lead these fears and we just simply LOVED and listened to the Spirit rather than parroting liners that feed fear and prop one’s philosophy higher. I joked with my family the other day when they said “isn’t MN being taken over by Muslims”? I said “yeah everyone that watches Fox News is scared.”
      Because I don’t hear any fear from those who don’t watch Fox News but I do hear fear from Christian conservatives that do watch it and instead of thinking how we can love the nations and people groups that God has brought in our paths where it’s illegal to go to in other countries…I hear how we need to be against “them” and not let “them” take any more ground. I hear how they “hate Israel” when actually when I went and looked up certain congressman they were talking about the comments were not hating Israel but hating the corruption of money flow with Israel.
      I’m thankful for this book and the subtitle. Christians are held to a higher standard in that we need to look at ourselves and not be condemning and pointing fingers.

  10. if the heart of god is in bringing the kingdom of god to earth through his followers, then the question that needs to be answered is, “does the kingdom come by right-handed or left-handed power?”.

  11. It is not sarcasm. It is a question that I think most Christians don’t think about when deciding how to live in this world. It was not directed towards any of the comments. It’s something I thought about posting so I hope you didn’t take it as against anything you or anyone else said.

    • No I didn’t take it against anyway but I’m curious what is meant by left handed or right handed power? Thanks

  12. in relational terms, right-handed power would be when manipulation and coercion are used to force someone to do or become something they’re not. left-handed power would be non-manipulative, non-coercive means to invite someone into doing or becoming something they’re not.

  13. Wow! Have you made me think…..Thank you. But who do we vote for? Just the thought of killing babies after they are born makes me sick to my stomach. And as far as homosexuals, I live in a building with some of the nicest people and they are gay or lesbian and I love my grand daughter….she’s a lesbian….I can’t help it. God’s love just rises up in me for them. And the abortion problem….I have loved ones that have gone through that also….And I love them. It’s the religious leaders that I have a problem with and some of the political ones….They do hate this country…so why do they live here? I will get the book and read it….You have helped me to question so many things….you have helped me so many times before, Wayne! I’m having lunch with friends on Wednesday and they are very outspoken politically and I have often thought of the scripture where Jesus told the disciples , ” You know not what Spirit you are of.” Gonna look that up before I go to lunch. Love you…thank you for letting me sputter! P.S. I was getting so many junk e-mails that I blocked it. I need your exact e-mail address to put on the “unblocked” list!

  14. I made a mistake, I agree with Faith….I have not read Victoria’s yet!

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