Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Book Club Power Worshippers 1 MASTERED70u9g
Book_Club_Power_Worshippers_1_MASTERED70u9g SUMMARY KEYWORDS christian, book, people, rock candy, called, church, myth, life, satanic panic, grew, kids, christianity, talk, nationalism, episode, jefferson, persecuted, bible, friends, matt SPEAKERS Rebecca Shaw, Stephen Bradford Long, Matt Langston
00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast.
Matt Langston 00:02 Hey guys, my name is Matt Langston. I am a music producer, a mix engineer and an avid unicorn enthusiast and I would like to invite you over to my podcast 11 D live on eleventy life, we get to talk to your favorite artists, producers and creators about what makes them tick. We take deep dives into where they get their juiciest inspirations from and how they keep from being cynical about all of it. We even get to pull back the curtain on my band eleventy seven and share some fun insider tips and tricks for our fellow bandmates and creators out there. So be sure to check out eleventy life right here on the rock candy Podcast Network and wherever you get your favorite shows.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:16 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right. So this is a new kind of episode, I'm rolling out several new show formats for Sacred tension. One of which is the AMA episodes solo ama episode, which I did earlier this month that did really well. This is a new kind of show. It is the book club show where I discuss a particular book with some co hosts. Now we're doing this because I believe that, you know, reading is important. And that, especially right now where we're all online, we're all digesting tiny little bits of information. I think it's really, really important to encourage reading. So yes, this is satanic PBS, and I am telling you to read more. So the book that we're discussing this week, maybe multiple weeks, we'll see we'll see how drunk we get during this conversation is the power worshipers by Catherine Stewart. It is a book about Christian nationalism, and the imminent threat of Christian nationalism to our politics and to the world. This was in fact the book that made me so depressed that it sent me on my monthslong fantasy and sci fi binder because I just couldn't handle reality after reading this book. So joining me for this conversation is the king of the unicorns himself and notorious alcoholic Matt Langston. How did you know? I know. Okay, so. So, Matt is the owner of rock candy studios, longtime friend and occasional guest on sacred tension. He is also the composer for all the music featured on the show most of the music featured on the show. Indeed, yes. And also joining us is our one and only office manager the amazing madam librarian, also known as Rebecca Shaw, although she is really the one who makes rock candy possible right now, Matt and I are hostelry Yes, Matt and I are hot messes, and we cannot run an organization. We cannot run anything to save our life. So Rebecca is here as the office manager to to keep us together. She is also a librarian. Yes.
Rebecca Shaw 03:54 Oh, yeah.
Matt Langston 03:55 She will also be one of the one of the judges of our rock candy pumpkin carving contest status,
Stephen Bradford Long 04:00 which might have already actually come out might have already come out by the time this episode airs. But yes, this will be airing around Halloween. So Happy Halloween, everyone what better way to celebrate Halloween, and to get truly terrified, then to discuss the power of worshipers and Christian nationalism one of the scariest things on the planet. But before we start talking about that, I need to thank my newest patrons, so I am relying on my patrons now more than ever, because I am working less at my day job. I am not teaching yoga at all anymore because I don't want to kill them because there's a plague. So that means that I'm making considerably less money and I am relying on my patrons to get me through month by month. Now more than I used to being a patron also ensures the long life of my work. If you enjoy sacred tension, if you look forward to it every single week, if you look forward to my blog every week, and if you want to see me develop more content in the future more depth Rent kinds of projects, then the best way to support me the most direct way to support me is through Patreon. And for just $1 a month, or $5 a month, $10 a month about the cost of a really, really fancy drink at Starbucks once a month. You get extra content every week and you ensure the long life of my work. So this episode I need to thank Bethany, Brock, Melissa, Nate, Chrissy, and Helena, you are my personal lords and saviors. Thank you so much. I can't do this without you. Also, if you are unable to financially support right now, I get it. The economy is a dumpster fire right now. And I really need you to first and foremost take care of yourself and your family. And you might not have the margin well one of the other best ways to support my show is to just leave a five star review on Apple podcasts that helps our digital overlords know that my show is worth sharing with other audiences. So it really really does help. This week's Apple podcast review is from Malibu 58 ad and they say fantastic podcast. I listened to a number of podcasts sblc Sacred tension is my number one. His guests are engaging and interesting. And his side stories of bodies in the dumpster for example. are fun to listen to as well. Okay, so bodies in the dumpster that is a patrons only story you have to subscribe to get that story. It was truly traumatizing it traumatized everyone involved. So that is another reason to subscribe to my Patreon.
Matt Langston 06:35 Oh, lovely review, though, isn't it indefinitely is that is just kindness put out into the Yes,
Stephen Bradford Long 06:40 it's very sweet. I have not yet gotten a like raving, frothing at the mouth, a negative review, but I'm waiting for it.
Matt Langston 06:48 I delete all of them. So you can't see them. Steven. That's actually that's how that works.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:55 All right, so So finally, this show is sponsored by tst. TV. It is a streaming platform put out by the Satanic Temple. They have all kinds of amazing content on there. They have feature length films, they have documentaries, they have live streams, rituals, they also have some kinky stuff on there if that's your thing, and you can get one month free by using my code at checkout. Sacred tension, all caps, no space. All right. Well, how is everyone? How are we doing? Are we ready for this? We have alcohol in the middle of the studio. That's it. That's it just on the ground a notch. I was going to say a mountain of alcohol smattering. It's a smattering. I
Rebecca Shaw 07:36 would call it a smattering. It's a good, good little stash.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:39 All right. So I read this book earlier in the year. I read it over the summer, like I said, before I started my fantasy binder, because I just couldn't handle reality anymore after reading this book totally understandable. So I am having to reacquaint myself with this book. And what would you say is the basic thesis of this book? This is this is school. This is English class.
Rebecca Shaw 08:04 I didn't know this was a pop quiz.
Matt Langston 08:07 Yeah, no, I so. So normally, I'm the kind of person who really has to stay out of politics just for my own mental health. And I remember, over the last like six months or so Stephen, whenever you and I would hang out, you'd always mention this book to me, and just the premise that you gave me intrigued me enough to purchase my own copy. So I went out and I got it. And I was really, I was kind of shocked to discover that this was that my entire life. I had grown up in this very Protestant evangelical home in churches. And they were always there's always this like weird sort of hazy film around our religion. And it was always so closely married with politics. And all of the people who I knew who were Christians somehow voted Republican, and all of these different hot button issues like abortion, reproductive rights, and everything always seemed to be at the center of all of the election cycles. And I remember all of the rhetoric and the dialogue that my parents had growing up and different people within the church, people, even within our church telling us that you know, to be a Christian, they didn't see how you could be a Christian and not vote for the Republican Party, right? All of this, you know, you're getting this information as little as five or six within the church. So like you have all of this weird residue, and I, in my own journey, have like, have been seeking out through therapy and through various means a way of demystifying what it was that was my childhood, and how did I get to be this point, or I'm in my mid 30s. And I'm just now unraveling all of this weird spiritual residue from when I was a kid, and I feel like this book completely took I don't know the last third years of my Cognizant memory of church. Yeah, and completely lifted a veil off of it and gave a definition to the things that I can never quite put my finger on. And it's essentially, essentially the the marriage of, of Christianity, with politics and particularly within Protestant evangelical America.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:21 Yeah, I feel like one of the themes of not just the show, but also our general friends group, is that we're all in our 30s now, and it's like we're all waking up and being like, how the fuck? Like what what happened to us? Sure, like realizing that our childhoods were not normal. Yeah. And now, coming to terms with that. So also, neither of us are Christians at this point, but Rebecca is the token Christian in the room. She is not an Evangelical, but it is nice having having someone who has a Christian perspective, I
Rebecca Shaw 11:00 will say I like to consider myself a bit of a theological mutt. Good. That was raised Southern Baptist. So I got that exposure. And I attended a Lutheran private school, which we'll get into more later, I'm sure in the context of the book, and then my dad's side of the family was Episcopalian, and when I started homeschooling, I became more exposed. Most of my best friends is Catholic, and I met her through him through the homeschooling circles, and went to a Presbyterian College, worked at a Methodist summer camp, and then landed an orthodoxy, which is probably for a whole nother episode,
Stephen Bradford Long 11:38 I wanted to start this conversation off with a definition that she gives a Christian nationalism. So a Christian nationalism is the topic of this book, and basically how it's encroaching on almost every level of, of public life or or trying to at least encroach on public life and how it is infiltrating almost every different level of government as well. So here's what she says this is from page four. From the introduction. Christian nationalism is not a religious creed, but in my view, a political ideology. It promotes the myth that the American Republic was founded as a Christian nation. It asserts that legitimate government rests not on the consent of the governed, but on adherence to the doctrines of a specific religious, ethnic and cultural heritage. It demands that our laws be based not on the reason to deliberate, not on the reason to deliberation of our democratic institutions, but on particular, idiosyncratic interpretations of the Bible. Its defining fear is that the nation has strayed from the truths that once made a great Christian nationalism looks backwards on a fictionalized history of America's allegedly Christian founding, it looks forward to a future in which its versions of the Christian religion and its adherence, along with their political allies enjoy positions of exceptional privilege and power, in government and in law. That's an incredibly succinct way of putting it. Yes. So we all I feel like grew up in this. Yeah. And so what what were your experiences like growing up in this Christian nationalist setting, like things that you things that you took for granted that you were told that now in our 30s, we don't take for granted anymore? And we're starting to question?
Matt Langston 13:39 Oh, my gosh, that might even be too broad of a question. That's
Rebecca Shaw 13:43 a lot, Stephen.
Matt Langston 13:44 Yeah. I mean, I feel I know about this a lot. And I feel like the book puts a much finer point on any of this than like, then maybe any of us would be able to. But for me, personally, one of the things that resonated so strongly in this book is that Catherine didn't only write this book, but she also wrote one called The Good News club. So I, I was a part of this program. When I was growing up called Child Evangelism Fellowship. I was recruited from a small private Christian Academy by one of their leaders who came into our school, because we were a Christian school. And she said that she was looking for teenagers who were really passionate about the gospel. And we're passionate about evangelizing people and changing our culture. And so at the time, I'm probably I don't know 1415 In school, and this Absolutely. Oh, yeah, I was like, this is this is totally my thing. Like none of my none of my younger friends. Were a youth group kid. I was absolutely a youth group kid. Like I was zealous to a fault. I had very few friends because everyone was so damn sinful. I had a really hard time making friends because my my interpretations of what everyone was doing. Like everything. The stakes are so fucking high within Protestant evangelicalism where it's like everything that every like if you had if you had a kid that you wanted to be friends with, but, but your parents knew that their parents drank, then God only knows what other sinful acts might happen in that home. So you never got to go to sleepovers or anything or you, you know, it's just like these really benign things. Now that we look at it, we're like, that's not a reason for my kid not to be friends with somebody. But when you have these religious teachings pervading, like, your outlook of everything, me being a really zealous kid, I was just terrified of the world. I was programmed to see the devil in everything. I was programmed to it that anything that brought me joy, or happiness or life, that, that look out, because if you're having a good time, it's probably because of Satan.
Stephen Bradford Long 15:55 And now look at you're looking at you now you're here on sacred 10. Right, and
Matt Langston 15:59 now I'm on sacred tension, and my life has come full circle. Yeah, but what but this, this entity, child Evangelism Fellowship, their, their whole purpose for existing is to recruit young, impressionable teenagers who have a quote, heart for God, and are looking for a way to channel that into helping to recruit people to Christianity, to convert. And so we would raise our own support our own money throughout the school year to, for adults to or programs or churches to support us to go out and be missionaries within our own communities. And so I remember doing this, like I wrote letters to different churches and different people that I knew to teachers, teachers supported me when I did this. And was this at a Christian school or a public school? This was at a private school. Okay. Yeah, yeah. So that was happening. And you essentially raised all of the support so that you can fund and they funnel all of this money through that put like, through themselves, like through their own entity, and they write you paychecks out, like every two weeks or every week or so during the summer with whatever you have paid into them. So I don't know entirely how I don't remember how this scheme worked at all. But it was it is financially a little hazy as to why it sounds like money went
Stephen Bradford Long 17:26 to Avon. So we children, it's an evangelical
Rebecca Shaw 17:33 pyramid. Yes, yes,
Matt Langston 17:35 we would go they called us the creme de la creme of our youth groups. Did they really yes of our schools. I mean, they laid it on thick. We we were the chosen for you know where to go to these camps during the summer. And so before you can go out and be a member of child Evangelism Fellowship, you have to go to a training camp. Well, this training camp, there are tons of them that happen all across the US and all over the world. The one that I went to was in the middle of nowhere Georgia, so they kind of isolate all of these kids together and you go through a very rigorous and extensive training for a week essentially like then teaching you how to tell Bible stories how to use visual aids to tell Bible stories, how to go into schools and essentially give you know the creation story the salvation plan and all of this within a matter of oh my god, I don't know 45 minutes
Stephen Bradford Long 18:35 so so are you able to do a dramatic performance? Oh my god salvation
Matt Langston 18:41 I wish I was always that kid was like I almost didn't make it through my training couldn't remember because I was because they give you all of these all these visual aids and stuff so you have to get up in front of all of the storytellers and tell the story and they have they like train you on everything decide whether or not you're ready because this this is this message is really important. Like is what they tell you if you if you get in front of these kids and you mess this message up you're making God sad you should have had your shit together. Have you never had your shit telling you it's it's pretty intense. Like it almost wants for somebody to go do I don't know a documentary on what these camps are like because it it's it's kind of mind blowing. Wow. So
Stephen Bradford Long 19:27 this is so by the way, quick tangent. This is the part in the book where she's discussing how Christian nationalism is trying to infiltrate schools, right? But sidenote, I did an episode with Shelley's Blythe about after school Satan, which is a campaign of the Satanic Temple, which is a Satanic after school club specifically in areas where what is this thing called
Matt Langston 19:50 the good childhood angels and how would Evangelism Fellowship good news clips it is they put on they put on the good news Okay, yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 19:56 we're only place so they they only go to places is two schools where this is active, and they try to provide this alternative. Right?
Rebecca Shaw 20:07 She talks about that in the book. She I believe she really she
Stephen Bradford Long 20:09 does talk about after school. Satan does mention it. Yeah.
Matt Langston 20:13 So anyway, that was our summer. And it was just us, like going through this training and going into the schools. And I, I just remember, we would go and put these on in low income housing projects, we would go into different private school programs. And I remember at the time there being this, this really big thing where they were like, we're about to be able to get into public schools. And so they were like, really, like all of us. were praying for this legislation to pass. Yeah, like, if, if my memory serves me correctly, like, I'm, I don't know, between 14 and 16 when this is happening, but yeah, I was super into it. I was super zealous. And I thought that I was doing the right thing. And meanwhile, you know, I'm doing this it's like, one of the highlights of my life. My home life is awful. Like, I have not and this is the one thing I have during the summer that I get to enjoy. I had been, like, kicked out of a camp before for being a camp counselor. Or I was a camp counselor there. I was kicked out of this like job.
Stephen Bradford Long 21:15 Okay, wait, why?
Matt Langston 21:17 I'm sorry. I don't want to derail it. But it's an awful story. Who did you fuck I probably second. No, I was just I was I was very young. And I was very zealous. And I was doing I was doing the best I could with my very limited now.
Stephen Bradford Long 21:35 Are you doing satanic rituals?
Matt Langston 21:37 I wasn't informed. That's how I got kicked out. Yeah.
Rebecca Shaw 21:42 I was the goody two shoe. Yes.
Matt Langston 21:43 So anyway, this now as an adult, all of these things, while they while I still understand how they are very well meaning, and they attract some of the most beautiful and fervent people to come to these things to be a part of these programs, I understand this to be something incredibly damaging. I look back on this. And I have so much remorse for going into places where there are impressionable kids with not a lot of adult supervision happening. And we're essentially giving them all of this like very topical information about their world and about a Christian viewpoint, and about Christianity, that they probably don't have any frame of reference for him. And we're using tools of shame. To convert them, we're essentially like describing to them what the Christian idea or the Protestant evangelical idea of sin is, and how they're inherently innately evil people who need to be delivered from this, you know, from this lifestyle, it's
Stephen Bradford Long 22:45 also just taking advantage of parents speak. And, you know, you mentioned that you would do these things in in more underprivileged settings, and how, you know, especially when it hit the public schools, and this is something that Catherine Stewart talks about is parents don't necessarily know that this is religious, right to them. It is an after school program, and if they are overworked and they need a place for their kids to be while they're at work, they this organization takes advantage of that. And then the kids don't differentiate between school and this other organization. To them. It's all the same thing. And so and so the kids see this as being sanctioned by the school. Right as this is just part of school. This is just part of not
Matt Langston 23:33 Asia, there's not a clear delineation between what is a religious belief, and what what should be considered a baseline for for public education and these kinds of serve. Right.
Stephen Bradford Long 23:44 So Rebecca, yeah, what is to tell us some of your background in boy in this kind of stuff?
Rebecca Shaw 23:50 Well, as Matt, you were talking about being part of this child Evangelism Fellowship, I was just thinking back to my days in girls and action, which was out of the Southern Baptist women and ministry, women's missionary union. Sorry, I did have to pull this up on Wikipedia. Yeah. And I do think is funny, by the way, that if you're scrolling through the Wikipedia article, and you grow, go down to girls, and actually the link actually takes you to GA passport, which is a travel website. So so that link needs to be fixed.
Stephen Bradford Long 24:24 The amount the constant library and making sure the sources are correct.
Rebecca Shaw 24:31 Yeah, it was. We didn't go out into the community as often we did do community projects, but mostly we learned about missionaries and missionary kids. And this was where, you know, that idea of evangelism was seeded and took root. And for the boys because they did separate us. The girls were girls and action. Grades one through six and the boys were royal ambassadors. Yeah. And I feel like they did a lot of more fun Things like they did car races, like little, little like Matchbox car racing. Yeah, type stuff.
Matt Langston 25:07 There's a ton of gender role. Yeah, Doctor nation that happens in these circles for sure
Rebecca Shaw 25:13 there was and like I was, I was all for it. And I distinctly remember even though and this is like really interesting to me now looking back being Orthodox and for icons are big. You don't have iconography at all in Protestant Christianity. But we did have a picture of Jesus and we would say a prayer with the picture of Jesus. And we would say a pledge to the American flag and to the Christian flag.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:43 Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So this,
Rebecca Shaw 25:47 this idea of like, twining, Christianity and being American
Matt Langston 25:54 and all together military force. Yeah, it looks like this whole Onward Christian Soldiers. Oh, yeah. Horrifying
Stephen Bradford Long 26:00 of militarization, right.
Matt Langston 26:05 Oh, yeah. You're a culture Royer.
Rebecca Shaw 26:06 I have a deep dive into into like being a Christian warrior.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:13 Were you the one who was in Christian karate? That Were you the one? Okay, if we could you tell us some of of this? Yeah. So this is tangential to Catherine Stewart's book. But but the theme here. But the theme here is the same. I mean, yeah, here is so
Rebecca Shaw 26:32 it's co opting one thing. Bringing your mic a bit closer. Sorry. I'm not used to Yeah, you're good. You're good. Speaking into a mic? Yeah, no, it the idea is the same because your co opting this other like, quote unquote, secular thing? Yeah. And Christianizing it you're, you're claiming something that was never Christian in the first place? And saying that you're reclaiming it. Right? Right. Which
Stephen Bradford Long 27:03 is not a thing. It's like the Borg is like this. It is.
Matt Langston 27:06 Yeah. It's a spiritual type of manifest destiny. Everything that has ever been ultimately deserves to and needs to be co apcoa. Yeah, into a Christian
Rebecca Shaw 27:17 evangelization of martial arts. Right. And it was interesting because it was a mixed martial arts style. So it wasn't a specific style it drew from Kung Fu and Tai Chi, taekwondo, it drew from all these different backgrounds. But it was essentially a Bible verse memorization program. Everything was renamed every single move every single move every single
Stephen Bradford Long 27:46 stance, so what were some
Rebecca Shaw 27:48 of them so Whoa, okay, well, here's so here's here's fun. The belts. They were not just oh, white sash, yellow sash. No, it was the fruits of the Spirit. Wish her love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. So good. So Right. Yeah. So they were named after this specific Bible verse talking about the fruits of the Spirit. And each move that you had your blocks, your punches, your stances, your cottas. Robin, what are caught is caught as are your forms. Okay, got it. Different words for different histories. But your your, you know, four forms, long forms short forms,
Matt Langston 28:35 are as they would call them, your Loaves and Fishes? Yeah. Well,
Rebecca Shaw 28:38 they were. They were, that sounds like something else. They were also named after the, the spirit. So they coincided with your belt color, because they incorporated all the moves that you learned at that level. Right,
Stephen Bradford Long 28:55 right. And this really is kind of a brilliant Oh, it is indoctrination program. Yeah, it really is. And
Rebecca Shaw 29:03 you had a Bible study. So you would get a folder with your like your uniform and your belt and your materials and you would get a folder that had all of the moves that you've learned that level and they for each one, there was a Bible study, and you had to memorize a verse. So in order to progress to the next level, you not only had to show that you knew all of the physical material for that level. You had to have a Bible verse memorized for each move. And so by the time you got to black belt, you had hundreds of verses memorized, right? And here here's my favorite part. When we broke boards, which is really fun. They haven't shout hallelujah
Stephen Bradford Long 29:49 oh my god, I love this. And I'm and you know, I'm picturing like, you know, taking this fantasy one step further like this, this squadron of of Jesus, they were coming out of a. They were called warriors of Jesus warriors. They were little warriors for the little kids and warriors for the like, you know, adult, teenage Christ. So, you know, like, I'm just picturing like, okay, we're, we're going to have a protest at a Planned Parenthood, we're going to need the warriors to come. In the protesters. This is where my fantasy is taking this,
Rebecca Shaw 30:26 we never never got involved in stuff like that. They did do demonstrations, occasionally, usually at churches. i One boy, one of the reasons I got into this is because I started homeschooling, again, tying in with her book. Now, I started homeschooling because I was in fifth grade at a private Christian school and got called a bitch. And was like, I don't want to go back. I actually didn't know what it meant. At the time. I showed the note. It was written on a note, I showed it to my mom, and she was deal
Matt Langston 30:53 don't know what that means. Right? Don't lie.
Stephen Bradford Long 30:57 I mean, we're all three of us. Who are nerds? We were all three of these. bullied, merciless Yeah. And so that's the thing is these programs, and I have my you know, I don't need to go into it. Because this, my audience is sick of hearing me talk. But, you know, these places provide shelter for nerds like us. Right? Like they provide a safe place for us to explores our unique skill set,
Matt Langston 31:31 right? You're a Christian teen in this culture, you're not having sex, you're not masturbating, you're not drinking, or you are feeling really bad. Right? Right, you're doing you have all these different things like in light, you're not hanging out with any of the kids who are out there having fun, or don't have all of these weird,
Rebecca Shaw 31:47 and you're not having conversations about them either. Right, which also ties into our book, where she talks about, you know, these things just aren't being talked about. And this ties in specifically to the issue of abortion, which she brings up throughout the book as a running theme.
Stephen Bradford Long 32:03 So I want to cover that specific chapter. I do, too, have rights later in the show. So we're gonna get to that. Let's definitely cover that topic.
Matt Langston 32:12 I think this is a good, I think we've got a good foundation. Yeah, view of like this is how weird and like a subculture of a subculture that we kind of all came from. So all of these things made sense to us.
Rebecca Shaw 32:25 They did they hit on a, on a really fundamental level. And coming back really quickly to the evangelism thing. Matt, I know you and I have talked about this previously, Vacation Bible School. Yeah, yeah. The reward system, like what you know, where you, you get rewarded with candy, or treats, or whatever it was, for bringing kids to Vacation Bible School. And the more you brought people, the more you got out of it,
Stephen Bradford Long 32:52 and specifically preying on lower income family, yes. For this specific purpose, right. Yeah. Of, of evangelizing kids. And so I, I was in a missionary setting my entire life, which is different than a missionary position, which is very different from a missionary position. Now, I spent most of my life and missionary because my sex life is very vanilla. But you were saying I was saying, oh, god dammit, what? Oh, Jesus Christ. We're
Matt Langston 33:32 in a you were in a mission. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:33 So you know, as I was in this mission setting, a lot of people who focused specifically on child evangelism would talk about how it is so important to get kids Yes. And to get them during these formative years. Because it's like this window where if you are able to indoctrinate kids, then you will have them for the rest of their life. Like that's likely that you will have them for the rest of their life. And unless you're us, and unless you're and that was just a it was just looking back. I'm almost surprised by how readily they just said it. Yeah, how Oh, yeah, looking back, I'm honestly kind of surprised by how you know, I remember speakers coming to to admissions organization talking about child evangelists, and they would just straight up say, you have to get them at between this and this age, because that is when they're most malleable. Right?
Rebecca Shaw 34:24 Well, and I think the flip side of that is, especially again, with you know, lower income families or even young families, you get you get the kids and you get the parents and because the kids you know because the kids will pull the parents kids will pull the parents
Matt Langston 34:40 and yes that's another part of it. Yeah. So which is so sad because I feel like it particularly within religious practice if the if the whole like, I just I'm just not sold on the idea that somehow you the whole point is to convert these people completely bypass saying the fact that they are human beings with their own souls and their own intricate value and worth. And the first thing that you do to them is to bottleneck everything that they are into whether or not they will be a part of your club.
Rebecca Shaw 35:17 It is a colonial mindset. It is your mindset,
Stephen Bradford Long 35:22 and to that point, so Matt, you said just a minute ago that this is a a subculture of a subculture. But I think that it's really important to emphasize and this this is something that the book really corrected me on. I think that there is this predominant liberal idea that these are just outmoded ideas, that these are just out out that these are just antique, outmoded ideas, and that this extremity that we see in, in certain evangelical corners, is is the death throes and I have said multiple times this is the death throes of conservative evangelicalism, they are losing and because they're losing, they're going to these extremes. And she really corrected. She did
Matt Langston 36:08 she when I say that she talks about because to us, they are losing to us, they're not making sense anymore. To us, they do feel like, for exactly, there's so many reasons to turn away from this or to leave this or to disregard it or call it fringe. But yeah, I think you're right. And Amy, too, in a
Stephen Bradford Long 36:26 global sense, though, not only is this not antique, this is an incredibly modern, incredibly savvy, incredibly radical movement that is infiltrating multiple levels of government. Yes. And so and not just here, but all over the world. Yeah. And so it, this liberal notion that I had, which is oh, these are just the death throes of a dying movement. That is not true. These doctrines are new. These doctrines are modern inventions. And she says somewhere in the introduction, this is a modern movement, in every sense, they are data miners, are strategic. And it is incredibly misguided to think that this is a dying movement, you know, reminds me of that times Times magazine cover and in the 50s or 60s, there was something like God is Or is God dead, and it was celebrating the death of religion. Well, you know, 50 6070 years later, look where we are, you know, the and and the religious right, has come come forward as this incredible force in America. Yes. And and so I think that there's this regular pitfall that we're tempted to fall into when we talk about this kind of stuff, which is because this doesn't make sense to us. We assume that this is on the decline, when that is not, in fact, the
Rebecca Shaw 37:53 case. Well, and I think the key point is that we grew away from it. And that can translate to growing out of it and saying, Well, we grew out of it, it surely this will die off with the next generation, which as a as a tangent, because I've been doing a lot of reading on on this at the same time that we've been working on the power worshipers. Robyn D'Angelo talks about in her book, white fragility, how there's this notion that racism will die off with the next generation, when in fact, that is not the case. Right? Exactly. And it's the same kind of faulty logic, that, Oh, it will just die away. But something that I've noticed, for both, both of these things, it takes maintenance, it does, there are systems of power that were built, very specifically. And it takes maintenance, which means that as long as somebody is maintaining it, it's not going to go away.
Stephen Bradford Long 38:51 And as and as long as there are incentives, right, or for this kind of radical ideology, it it will always there will always be the threat of it, rearing its ugly head, you know, I immediately think of Satanic Panic, or one of the things that Satanists get accused of on occasion is Why are you so obsessed with Satanic Panic? When it was an it was in the 80s? Why are you so worried about this? Why are you spending so much time focusing on this when the reality is Satanic Panic is being reified, and Q anon. And these old packaged ideas, these old ideas, right, they get a shiny new cover, get a shiny new cover, and they get it, you know, it's Satanic Panic for the media age. And, you know, it's not I don't think it's anywhere near the scale of the ad Satanic Panic where it had the endorsement of the institutions and that was what was so scary about it in the 80s. But, but it but now we have congress people to have those
Matt Langston 39:49 kinds of endorsements because of the very systemic religious writings that we're talking about. Yeah, exactly.
Rebecca Shaw 39:56 And I think, to some degree, it's again, entry She goes through this in the book how intricately tied. Christian Nast, nationalism and racism are
Stephen Bradford Long 40:06 being wars do Angelo
Rebecca Shaw 40:10 Catherine's do sorry, not DeAngelo DeAngelo doesn't doesn't really touch on Christian nationalism. But Kevin Stewart does talk about racism and how these ideas were born like this, this group of people, Bob Jones, Jerry Falwell, and others in their circle and use something she brings up is that this isn't it doesn't have one face, it doesn't have one organization. It's just a recurring group of names of people and organizations that are an ideology, right? They're loosely tied together, and how influenced all of them more by pro slavery theologians?
Stephen Bradford Long 40:50 This is a good time to pivot to the mythology. Yes, so have some thoughts. So we've talked some about the, you know, our past in this kind of Christian nationalist setting the infiltration of this ideology into children's settings and, and the goal to capture the hearts and minds of children. Right. But there's, there's also this underpinning mythology, that that this ideology is based on. So one of my favorite authors, Jon Ronson, he wrote a book called them back in the early 2000s. And the basic idea of them is that almost every single toxic ideology, and a radical movement is based on a conspiracy theory. And, and so he, so he goes and hangs out with white nationalists, he, he hangs out with crazy militia people in Oregon, he does all kinds of stuff. And he identifies core conspiracy theories. And so I would say that the myth of the Christian nation is the core conspiracy theory of this move.
Rebecca Shaw 41:56 Absolutely. I would agree with that. I think one of the biggest things on that facet of this book that struck me was the mythology of America being founded as a Christian nation
Stephen Bradford Long 42:07 absent that's it that is entirely it and the fear that we are wandering away fear
Rebecca Shaw 42:11 that we're wandering away from that. But as I was reflecting and preparing my notes for this, something that I was thinking about was how there are two other underlying myths that kind of got smushed together to create that myth of Christian nationalism, which is first and foremost. And this comes primarily from Protestant Christianity, the myth of the lost years of the early church, right, everyone that I knew growing up, talked about, you know, trying to get back to the early church scene, it was how pristine Right? And how, how can we re achieve that? And so that what that turns up being is like house church.
Stephen Bradford Long 42:53 Yeah, I was just thinking, this is a big thing with the house church move house church movement.
Rebecca Shaw 42:57 And so like, there's this idea that those are lost years, when in fact that history is incredibly well documented. It's Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, we know exactly what the fuck it. We know exactly what it is. But the only and I was thinking about this the other day, my grandmother was a Southern Baptist who staunchly believed the Catholics, we're not Christian. And the only way that statement makes sense is if you consider the last years of the early church, right? And so that myth is very powerful.
Stephen Bradford Long 43:28 Yeah. And it's this idea of returning to so Peter ends who's a, a biblical scholar I really love he talks about in the Bible, there is the deep there's a portion of the Bible which he calls the deep history. And the deep history is the Book of Kings book of Samuel the the first five books, that the Torah, thank you, I was like, is it the pentatonic or what's the what's the pentatonic is that it's the next set. It's the next set. Okay, so, but basically how those deep it's a deep mythology of the and he's a Christian. So he he's approaching this as as a believer, but how those first books of the Bible are a political mythology to help explain the underpinnings of the Judaism that emerge from the Babylonian exile. Right? And, and in a way, this is kind of a similar thing. It's making it is this timeless? It's like this timeless mythical era is this ideal is this Eden that they're constantly trying to harken back to?
Rebecca Shaw 44:43 Well, and the interesting thing is when you phrase it as in you, these are the last years it gives you freedom to imagine what it might have been like which
Stephen Bradford Long 44:52 it becomes a Rorschach in
Matt Langston 44:56 your take your own rice with it. Yeah, right.
Rebecca Shaw 44:58 And so the other underlying myth that contributes to, you know, this Christian nationalist thing is the idea. And this is specific to American Christianity, because there are Christians in the world who are being persecuted in sure absolute many different ways. This is specifically aimed at American Christianity, right, the myth of persecution. Right, right. We are not persecuted in this country,
Matt Langston 45:23 which is an interesting thing. Because in the church, you're taught that every everything is out to get you that you are constantly being persecuted. Yeah, that was one of the things that I never quite understood as a as a child, or as a teenager growing up. I never did I there's all of this talk about how persecuted Christians were. But at no point except for like, not having any friends or a social life. Did I feel persecuted? Because I was a Christian. Yeah, you know, it was just like, well, I thought, I thought the whole like freedom of religion thing means that I get to believe this. And they get to believe that. And I'm not a impose a belief onto someone. Like, yeah, it's, I feel like it just becomes this really slippery slope, where everybody else is wrong. And you have the right thing. And like, the world just can't help themselves. And so yeah, yeah, it's, it's a dangerous idea. It is.
Rebecca Shaw 46:16 And it leaves you know, that this is how for someone outside of this, who hasn't grown up with it, yeah. You know, looking in on it, it can seem so baffling. Right? Like, how on earth did you come to the conclusions that you
Stephen Bradford Long 46:32 did? Oh, yeah. Especially looking in on Scientology?
Rebecca Shaw 46:36 And like, you know, denial of climate change, right,
Stephen Bradford Long 46:39 or the election of Donald Trump that, like how, how, how? So. And so the primary. So we've identified several myths here. One is a myth of the lost years of Christianity, the early church, which people can impose their own fantasies onto. The other myth is the myth of Christian persecution. But then the the myth that she really the myth that Catherine Stewart really hones in on is the myth of the Christian founding. And I think the primary culprit behind this is a man named David Barton. Yes. And David Barton and I have some history with David Barton, personally.
Matt Langston 47:23 So I'm on Grindr when
Stephen Bradford Long 47:24 I was not, I was not David Barton's rent boy. No, David Barton is I think, one of the primary architects of the Christian nationalist movement and he is He is their historian. But his his history is really this fictionalized mythmaking of, of the Christianity of the founders, when the truth is the founders, they were culturally influenced by, by the they were going to hope they lived in a Christian culture. But they were some of them were highly skeptical of religion. Jefferson was Thomas Paine was they were they were highly, highly skeptical of organized religion, and
Matt Langston 48:08 especially being so close. I mean, not too far removed from a group of people who literally came here. Like, yeah, right because of religious persecute. Right, exactly.
Stephen Bradford Long 48:19 Jefferson, or not Jefferson Barton wrote a particular book called this was several years ago now. And it eventually got pulled by the publisher because inaccuracies because it the the historic inaccuracies were so grievous. It's called the Jefferson lies. And basically, he tried to frame this, he tried to frame the narrative that we have about Jefferson that he was primarily secular, you as a defender of church and state, he was skeptical of the church, just all of these things that, that we take for granted about Jefferson, which are true, he says, That is a LIE propagated by secular historians.
Rebecca Shaw 49:02 And I'm gonna jump in here and say, my family has history with Thomas Jefferson can be traced back on my dad's mom's side. Oh, and get out. I never wrote Yeah, I never read any of Martin's work. I wasn't familiar with it. But just because I grew up in this, you know, deeply Christian environment. Yes. I have the assumption that because my family was Christian, Jefferson had to have been had to have held the same beliefs that I saw in my family. And no one ever corrected that right until you until I was an adult and read more. I just had this disbelief of things that I read. Yeah. And no one ever really talked to me about you. That's what's
Matt Langston 49:53 so insidious about this idea is that yes, things get these things start propagating in you so young, so do Young if you don't know how to identify this completely filters the way that you receive information about the world and inhibits your ability to be empathic to others, or to take criticism or to take criticism to take historical because everything is an intellectual or scientific evidence. Exactly,
Stephen Bradford Long 50:19 yeah. And so it really inoculates you at a young age against critical thinking. And yeah, the irony there being that Thomas Jefferson was the one who said, My favorite quote, which dealt with boldness, even the existence of God, for if there be one, he must surely more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
Rebecca Shaw 50:39 And, Steven, I want to jump in on that. That's one of one of the things that I love discussing with people, I have been very critical of my faith throughout the years, as I said earlier, having, you know, a varied background,
Matt Langston 50:54 your self loathing faith fine with little bit.
Rebecca Shaw 50:57 Anyone I've had people ask me over the years, like, wait a minute, anytime I would say, Oh, I don't believe you know, sure. I don't, I don't believe that homosexuality is bad, right? You know, things that make other people go wait, but I thought you were a Christian. Right? Right. And my response to them is always blind belief is not belief, right? If you don't have the freedom to question your faith, if you don't bother to question your faith, do you know what you believe? Exactly? How can you claim to know what you believe? Well, yeah,
Matt Langston 51:31 and I think, I think going back to what you were talking about, Steven, like the the mass sort of indoctrination of all these different things, like, the thing that was scariest to me, within the book is I started to get a very clear image and picture of I started to understand my parents and my grandparents generation, in a way that maybe I didn't before. And I feel like I had a lot of empathy towards them. But even though I grew up in a culturally restrictive environment, and I was a religiously zealous person, I was always sort of outpacing even my parents with my religious selflessness. There were things where I was like, I don't understand why you guys aren't taking this Christianity thing as seriously as I am. Because I've been taught for so you know, that I go to hell if I don't get this, right. Yeah. So like, what I'm not sure what you guys are doing. And I feel like there's this, there's this whole generation of people probably like our parents age, who are not necessarily on a path of spiritual enlightenment. They have lived in a time where spiritual enlightenment was so equated with political positioning, that 3040 50 years of that, and you can't see the difference anymore. Like so. So for them, it all whittles down to these very black and white issues, which the book talks about how we kind of get their, how they decide on these issues that they want to sort of, you know, bottleneck through Christianity. But yeah, I think that's the scariest thing to me, it is, is that it's not, it's not about trying to encourage people, or the Christianity that we grew up in is not about trying to encourage people to understand thyself, and to understand others in practice into love, right? And to practice integrity or live into the mystery, or simply just say, I don't know, in times where you don't, it's not a personal journey that is edifying and glorifying and elevating for everyone taking it. It is a system of do's and don'ts and beliefs that create us versus them. right versus wrong. And there is no middle ground. Yeah, you know what I mean? Yeah, absolutely.
Rebecca Shaw 53:54 Yeah. I don't know if either of you ever experienced one of these. But as Halloween is coming up, and it is,
Stephen Bradford Long 54:02 are you talking about the Hill House? Yes, I
Matt Langston 54:04 am. Okay, so I think I think we should take a short break. Okay. I'm back. Okay, so we can somehow tie Hell yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 54:12 So how long have we been going? All right. Well, this conversation is far from done. So we're going to wrap this up for now for this week. In the coming episodes, we're going to talk about abortion, bodily autonomy. We're going to talk about all kinds of stuff. Maybe we'll talk about hell houses and Halloween. We'll see. So Matt, which which 11 D song should we close out with for this episode?
Matt Langston 54:36 Let's see birthright.
Stephen Bradford Long 54:37 Okay, let's do birthright. So we're going to close out with birthright by the way. Matt Langston is the frontman of 11 D seven. He does all of the music for this show. You can find him on iTunes, Spotify, wherever you listen to music. His music is amazing. So we're going to close with birth right? All right, well, that is it for this episode. The music is by eleventy seven and the jelly rocks. The artwork is by Rama Krishna Doss, this is a production of rock candy media and this show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and as always hail satan. We'll see you next week don't think. Read the script