On March 11th, Forbes published a piece by former Republican columnist and blogger Chris Ladd – a lucid and detailed article titled “Why White Evangelicalism is So Cruel.” Within a few hours, the article had been taken down – leaving readers to wonder why.
There was nothing in the article that was libelous, and Ladd’s scholarship regarding the history of the issue was excellent. Granted, much of what Ladd wrote would be familiar to those who follow progressive politics; contributors at The Ring of Fire, including Thom Hartmann and Farron Cousins have explored the glaring contradictions in the relationship between a group of people whose claim to righteousness is based almost solely on sexual repression and a disgusting little misogynist who has bragged about his questionable sexual behavior.
Ladd’s article starts out with a hard-hitting account of Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas and devoted Trumpista – who, when delivering a speech to students at Falwell’s Liberty University a few years ago, said that the attacks of September 11, 2001, was “divine punishment” for America’s “wickedness.” Yet, when confronted with Trump’s adulterous behavior with a porn star, Jeffress simply replied, “Even if it’s true, it doesn’t matter.”
From there, Ladd traces the history of the Evangelical Movement (formerly known as “Fundamentalism”) back to the 1840s, the Civil War, and the years that followed, and how Christian Fundamentalism evolved in order to serve a society and maintain an economic system built on slavery. Noting that Christian Fundamentalism is firmly anchored in the former Confederacy, Ladd writes,
“Stripped of its compassion and integrity, little remained of the Christian message. What survived was a perverse emphasis on sexual purity as the sole expression of righteousness, along with a creepy obsession with the unquestionable sexual authority of white men…Christianity’s historic emphasis on sexual purity as a form of ascetic self-denial was transformed into an obsession with women and sex. For Southerners, righteousness had little meaning beyond sex, and sexual mores had far less importance for men than for women. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race. There was no higher moral demand.”
Right there is an excellent explanation for the hypocrisy and double standards that define the right-wing Christian Evangelical movement – well documented and clearly presented.
So, why did Forbes remove the piece?
In an email, Ladd was told that his article was “way out of bounds – painting the entire evangelical movement with a broad brush.” Ladd was also told that, in light of his criticisms of Jeffress, he “should have reached out to him for comment…it is extremely important to reach out for comment from anyone you personally criticize in your work.”
In fact, there was no criticism nor defense or endorsement of Jeffress in Ladd’s article – only quotes from him defending Trump. If that constitutes criticism, then it is Jeffress’ own words and documented actions that condemn him.
Fortunately for free speech, the original article was posted on Ladd’s blog, Political Orphans. You can read it here and decide for yourself.