Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

MON, SEP 20, 2021

In her unexpected NYT best-seller, Kristin Du Mez traces how a militant ideal of white, Christian manhood has come to pervade evangelical popular culture in America.

Hollywood’s strong men icon, portrayed by actors like John Wayne and Mel Gibson, have coopted core biblical teachings such as loving one’s neighbors and enemies, adding a militant battle cry. Mainstream evangelical leaders preach a “mutually reinforcing vision of Christian masculinity – of patriarchy and submission, sex and power.” DuMez argues this culminated in the hero worship of Donald Trump, who embodies the ideal of militant masculinity, protector and warrior.

Du Mez examines the disconnect between purported Christian ethics and the rise of sexual abuse, corruption and scandal within the evangelical church. She argues that the current brand of Christian nationalism which has come to dominate national politics and family values in recent times, is “more John Wayne than Jesus”. Please join us for a discussion on how the evangelical church is failing many mainstream Christian Americans.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Forum’s THE SEARCH FOR MEANING, a 3 part series looking at the benefits and failures of organized religion in the US.

+ BIO: Kristin Du Mez

Author and historian who teaches at Calvin University. Longtime member of a Christian Reformed Church and although raised as a “cultural evangelical” with Christian music and sexual abstinence, she belongs to a progressive branch of the church.

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