Don’t Just Take It From Me

Several readers have shared a recent, stunning post from Pastor John Pavlovitz. I’ve been a fan of Pastor Pavlovitz, although not a regular reader–Facebook friends pretty regularly share his online “sermons.”  After reading them, I usually think how nice it would be if all self-identified Christians were like him–you know, really Christian. ( I revisited that thought after reading the revelations about sexual abuse in Evangelical churches…)

At any rate, I’m ceding my space today to his message, because–like those who sent it to me–I think it is important to hear it from someone with first-hand knowledge and an “insider’s” perspective.


I’ve been a pastor in the church for over two decades, much of that in predominantly white churches in the American South.

I’ve spent countless hours in church staff meetings and men’s Bible studies and youth pastor conferences.

I’ve stayed connected on social media with thousands of people still there in those churches. I read what they share and post and amplify and I know how they think and what they believe.

I need you to understand something and I say it without any hyperbole: white Evangelicals need to be stopped, now.

If the 2022 midterms elections allow Republicans to gain control of Congress, Conservative Christians will decimate this nation, and LGBTQ people, Muslims, women, people of color, and non-Christians will never have equality under the law again. We will all be at their mercy—and they will no longer have use for mercy.

This is not alarmist, sky-is-falling histrionics, it is the clear and sober forecast from someone who knows these people better than anyone. Over the last decade and a half, as my theology shifted and my beliefs grew more and more progressive, I’ve been a kind of undercover Liberal in an increasingly extremist movement, that while once relegated to minor fringe noisemakers is now at the precipice of Roman Empire-level power. They are less than two years away from having a dominance that they will wield violently and not relinquish.

I watched it all unfold from the inside:

I was at a North Carolina megachurch when Obama was elected and I saw the shift take place firsthand. I saw the fear slowly being ratcheted up and the agenda become solidified and the prejudices leveraged.

I was speaking regularly at the Billy Graham headquarters when Fox News reporters and Republicans like Sarah Palin started walking the halls with frequency.

I saw the messages at pastor’s conferences grow more incendiary and urgent, and heard the supremacist dog whistles become louder and more frequent.

While many decent people around this nation celebrated the progress of a black president and the many civil and human rights victories and gradually let down their guard—the white Conservative church set off the alarms and prepared for a holy war.

Yet, they were still a largely powerless, dying dinosaur until 2016, when Donald Trump acquired the presidency and gave the Evangelicals the perfect amoral partner to serve as the biggest bully pulpit they’ve ever had. Combine that with a fragmented Left, a general fatigue by the larger population, a ceremonial victory in Congress (thanks to Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema), and Republican attacks on voters’ rights— and we are now a hair’s breadth from the subjugation of diverse humanity here.

These are not followers of Jesus despite the trappings and window dressing. They are Jesus-less extremists: blind zealots for nothing but power. They have been conditioned by decades of polluted theology and FoxNews alternative facts to see diversity as a threat, to see progress as attacks on America, and to interpret more people being treated with dignity as oppression of white people.

Trust me when I tell you that we won’t recover from the theocracy Evangelicals are constructing once it is established. If we fail in 2022, they will have a political power that will render every election null and void, and we will never have a voice again in our lifetimes.

Women will lose autonomy over their own bodies.
LGBTQ people will have the rights to marry and adopt taken away.
People of color will be fully squeezed out of the electoral process.
Immigrants will be denied access to opportunity and refuge here.

These are not creative projections. They are precisely what Evangelicals have repeatedly stated as their intentions, and they’re closer than they’ve ever been to having a rubber stamp.

We can still stop it, though.
We just need a unity and coordination that transcends theirs.
We need a sustained, passionate, dedicated defense of humanity that rivals their relentless assaults on it.

I hear many people say they’re terrified, but being terrified alone doesn’t do anything but help these people.
Be terrified and get angry.
Be terrified and get busy.
Be terrified and go to work.
Be terrified and fight like hell.

I wish more decent people in America remembered they are among the vast majority instead of acting as if they are helpless victims of Republican Christians. We could defeat them, and we need to. We just need to stop lamenting how much damage they are doing and start doing something to oppose them.

We’ve seen this play out throughout history and we know how it ends. We know what the unchecked religious extremist is capable of and we know the cost of the silence and inaction of good people. We also know what people are capable of when they refuse to accept fascism and white supremacy cloaked in the Bible and wrapped in the flag, when they fight for something inherently good together.

As someone who knows just how much these Christians have lost the plot of their faith tradition, believe me when I tell you that they cannot be allowed to steer this nation. It will not end well for the disparate people who call it home or who one day wish to.

Love and equity and diversity are in the balance.

It’s time we made a choice.

It may be the last one we get.”


  1. Absolutely.
    Dems must stop eating their own; taking an all-or-nothing stance on their candidates; demanding a “perfect “ man for the job (as if there is an equal evil between the GOP and an imperfect Dem). There IS no ideal candidate just as there is no Santa Claus, so we all have to stop -yes I’ll say it- throwing away our vote, or worse, refusing to vote, because the D on the ballot isn’t ideal. The time has passed where we have that luxury; save us from annihilation first and then we can shop for perfection.

  2. This can’t be a news flash, at least for those on this blog. But the most important and crucial lesson here is that thinking people who believe in and accepting TRUTH must vote and help others vote too.

    I agree, if the Republicans get control of government this fall, the United States will cease to be a democratic republic and descend into the slime pits of kleptocratic religious dictatorship. THAT is what the absence of civic awareness will yield.

  3. ACFP (American Christian Fascist Party), GOP, Republicans, Fundamentalist Evangelicals. It is all one large, growing group with chapters throughout the USA and they are reaching out internationally to poison the minds of impressionable children (that’s another comment for another time). We are on the path of repeating the mistake the German’s made. The result then? WWII.

    As Vernon wrote, there is nothing new about John’s diatribe, refreshing as it may feel for two seconds, coming from a self-proclaimed Christian. As Sheila has so often said – vote blue, no matter who, and I would add — for every and all offices, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may seem.

  4. So, the most exceptional nation in the world will give us two miserable options once again. Why doesn’t anyone step back from the fear driving both sides and ask, “How can the greatest nation in the world offer voters two horrible choices for president?

    We are basically down to straight-ticket voting. Who does that benefit? LOL

    My understanding of freedom and democracy is it gives me lots of choices. Where are my choices in regards to voting? A secular hell or a faux Christian-conservative hell?

    Those aren’t really great choices people…

  5. Everyone please share this widely.
    Raise the alarm. Share it in conversations.

    If interested in the documented history of this movement from its start in the 1930s, read One Nation Under God : How Corporate America Invented Christian America, by Kevin M. Kruse.

  6. John Pavolitz “We just need to stop lamenting how much damage they are doing and start doing something to oppose them.”

    Vernon Turner; “THAT is what the absence of civic awareness will yield.”

    I am spreading the word, talking to people, signing surveys, sharing posts on Facebook from Democrats and blocking the few that come through from Republicans. I am donating what I can to Democratic candidates in other states. My mailbox is filled with E-mails and surveys repeatedly from government officials, organizations and individuals to be responded to; all asking for money. My prayers are to strengthen and increase the current slim Democratic majority in government and to strengthen the Republicans whose deep fear of the Trump vast coffers of millions and current control of the Senate keeping them idle and silent. I get on this blog first thing in the morning and have never failed to find those who tell us we “need to DO SOMETHING” more than talk about it. I am doing what I can at my age, disabled and with income barely above the federal poverty level. What the hell are any of you doing that you can tell us we need to be doing something?

    And, Pastor Pavlovitz; I am currently lamenting what appears to be a commercialized competition between reports of 19 dead children and 2 dead teachers in Uvalde, Texas vs. ads for the release of the movie “Top Gun” and the millions expected to be made. How inappropriate on this Memorial Day Weekend as we continue to bury the Tops supermarket and Uvalde school mass shooting victims. And it is our lives which are in the balance; how many will die over this holiday weekend in more shootings?


  7. I’m with JoAnn on this one, and would like to put a question to all of the non-Evangelicals Christians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and agnostics out there. What makes you think that you are not in line for attack once the Evangelicals take control?

  8. I was floored by his sentence that started with: “Yet, they were still a largely powerless, dying dinosaur until 2016…”. This gave me some pause as to his credulity because he could not be more wrong about the power wielded by evangelicals at all levels of government, but ESPECIALLy state and county governments in at least half the states in our nation. You’d have to be living under a rock (and many Hoosiers do) to not see what Sen. Kruse and Rep. Behrendt have done in Indiana to undermine K-12 public education. Also, the despicable Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in 2015 and signed by Gov. Dence (and then later watered down but no repealed). This year virtually all restrictions were eliminated on carrying weapons.

    Evangelical (small-c) christians have been at this for over 50 years and they got their fist ally in the White House in 1980. But what they’ve been able to achieve in half the states since then is truly breathtaking. In the meantimes Dems are fighting over how much outstanding student debt to forgive and now how to save the society that has the capability to even do that.

    I’ve all but given up on the party (again – I’ve long been a progressive independent, or bleeding heart libertarian) for they have failed to embrace the underlying and legitimate populist grievances that millions of Americans have against our institutions and the economic fortress protecting the corporations and the super-rich from risk…which serves as the very core of a capitalist society. Instead they ceded those grievances to the MAGA cult and instead pursue the policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt….free stuff paid for by other people…most of them future taxpayers.

  9. JoAnn,
    That was well written. Thank you.
    One of the laments we in Elkhart County hear from BOTH sides is how there’s no choice for political positions.
    There were three of us on the ballot this spring, Tom McDermott, Paul Steury and me, running for local and and federal positions in Middlebury/Elkhart County.
    The same is true in two other townships.
    So many Rs and Ds have mentioned how nice it is to have that choice now.
    (Interesting delivery of words, I might add!)
    I have told my kids and grandkids the same thing.
    I’m fighting to save our democracy
    I’m doing my part; now you do yours!

  10. Folks – DO NOT BE LIKE THEM – do not arbitrarily vote for only D’s. There are many, many places where D’s have little or no chance (or may not even be on the ballot) due to GOP gerrymandering. You may have a Marjorie Taylor Greene v/s Adam Kinzinger choice. Look at the people, not just the party…tell me all the positive legislation and bringing together of the country AOC has done…

  11. Thanks for sharing this powerful column. As a former member of churches like those Pavlovitz described I know he speaks the truth. Jesus was always mixed with a little paranoia about Christians being under siege. Any pretense of a Christ-focused faith evaporated in 2016 when so many white evangelicals fully embraced a hedonistic candidate whose life runs counter to every principle we claim to hold dear. I am still a Christian and in a fellowship that respects and treats all with dignity and respect. Be just, love mercy and walk humbly with God should be how we Christians behave.

  12. Who or what are evangelicals? This definition come from an article from The Atlantic that wrestles with that question:

    “The most widely accepted definition of evangelical is probably the one put forward by historian David Bebbington in 1989. It’s called the “Bebbington quadrilateral” because it identifies evangelicals as Christians who share four main qualities:”

    Biblicism: a high regard for the Bible
    Crucicentrism: a focus on Jesus’s crucifixion and its saving effects
    Conversionism: a belief that humans need to be converted
    Activism: the belief that faith should influence one’s public life”

    Those last two “isms” are particularly important to their cause. They are empowered by the highest authority in the Universe to save the rest of us humans from ourselves.

    Connecting some more dots: All of the evidence we have points to Putin’s interference in our 2016 Presidential Election which took advantage of a well known defect in our democracy, the Electoral College, to carry Donald Trump, a close friend of his, over the finish line ahead of a sworn enemy of his, Hillary Clinton. Putin didn’t have to have any more of a plan, this was just a move on his part that was in his direction more than any direction that favored the US.

    Trump, having been born a political celebrity, did what he does well too and that is to find followers more loyal to him than he is to anyone. Through the connection of authoritarianism, disguised as conservatism, he connected through Republicans to evangelicals reeling from the success of a black liberal President here.

    That gave him two, to use a metaphor of the metaphor used in Orwell’s “1984”, public loudspeakers: Fox entertainment, and the evangelical church’s network of preachers, pulpits and people. By the common propaganda technique of making people feel bad then good, they combined missions to save US humanity from themselves. To promote them over us.

    The old term “a match made in Heaven” is very applicable here.

  13. Lester, it’s curious to me that you single out AOC. You could say the same of every politician. Honestly, it makes me doubt you.

    Did it really need to be said “Vote D whenever possible, and for the least terrible Republican in cases where it’s not?” You can’t vote GOP over D, even Kinzinger (et al) still vote for terrible GOP policies most of the time. As an example, over his career, Kinzinger has voted Trump’s position more than 90% of the time.

    Your comment reminds me of people (who claim to be progressive), suggesting that the lack of progress under Dems means one should vote GOP to punish the Dems. THAT would show them, and then if they ever got into power they’d know they really had to do something. If I believe the purveyor of that position is being honest, then my counter is simply that it’s infantile, dangerous and ridiculously stupid. However, when I see that argument, I tends to suspect that the person is only posing as a progressive, and trying to suppress the progressive vote.

  14. I grew up in the Christian evangelical cult. The author is absolutely correct. Our democracy is in grave danger from these people. They have been working for decades to make us into a theocracy. American Taliban all the way.

  15. John,

    Apparently, I was perfectly clear. Let me give you two better real examples from my (CommonGoodGoverning) work right now.

    1. We are working to help Jake Hunsaker (GOP) in the UT04 upcoming primary. Jake is a “red-dog Republican, no MAGA. That district is a SURE R district. The incumbent is Burgess Owens, a Black former NFL player who was one of only 3 GOP House members to vote against the anti-lynching bill. Whomever the D’s nominate, she will lose.

    2. We just supported Ricardo Villareal in the TX21 runoff primary. He is a moderate DEM. He was running against Claudia Zapata, running on Medicare for All and endorsed by Elizabeth Warren. The district is SURE R and the incumbent is Chip Roy, notorious MAGA member. Claudia won and will be wiped out.

  16. I have to wonder at those who see no difference between the GOP and the Dems. I agree the Dems are seemingly clueless about many things and frequently let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but they do still believe in the oath they took to protect and defend the Constitution. If we don’t support them, we are taking a big chance the we won’t have a Constitution by 2024.

  17. John – bad typo. Correction “Apparently, I was not perfectly clear”. Sorry about that.

  18. Pastor Pavlovitz’s effort must be getting a lot of play. I received his essay earlier this week from an old friend, a retired Lutheran pastor who lives in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, himself living with an incurable disease (as we all are, a conditions called life), and his observation of Pavlovitz’s effort parallels that of Sheila’s today.

    It is not enough to note that we are mixing church and state as early Christians did, when in at least one instance a pope led an army in a rather obvious denial of “Thou shalt not kill,” or the Hundred Years War, when Central Europe was depopulated as Catholics and Protestants killed one another by the thousands. History has thus told us what some of the effects of mixing church and state can be, but with politicians and clergy and the profit hungry running the show these days with their power plays based on how evil their opposition is rather than having a robust debate on the real issues of the day (global environmentalism etc.), the situation is dire.

    So what to do? First we must elect the “opposition” to office from the White House down through township trustee if we are to separate church from state (as our Founders intended), and then proceed to govern free from any religion or denomination thereof in policymaking. The same logic works in reverse when, as I have written elsewhere, how would the priests and preachers and rabbis like it if government intruded into their preserve and told them what rites and rituals as outlined by bureaucrats were permissible?

  19. Good morning Lester, good morning Vernon Turner!

    Sorry I haven’t been on as much, a lot of deaths to deal with concerning good friends.

    That Being said, Vernon and Lester, really have their finger on the pulse of a lot of things political. Sometimes the view points are divergent, but intellectually they get it! I admire both of them even though I come from a different direction than they do. The Passion of JoAnn and the pot stirring of Todd, really gets to the core of diversity in the course of opinion. But, you have to admit, age plus experience and learning, creates knowledge, knowledge then equates to wisdom if used correctly.

    What’s happening now, and what this pastor fails to recognize, is that a lot of the stuff going on is prophetic in nature. We’ve reached a point in connectivity and the saturation through media, social and otherwise, of lunacy and conspiracy, the breaking point has been reached…

    This is nothing new, this has happened in the past. So, it’s cyclical. But cycles can reach their limit. It can reach its end game.

    From the beginning of time, all religions basically birthed from a single source. The ancient gods were basically recycled from one culture to another. The buildings of worship, the temples and such, all had domes for the most part, they all use prayer beads, they all believe for the most part, in more than one god, or a trinitarian godhead!

    Ancient Babylon they had the chiefs of gods, Marduk, Ishtar, Baal, the lieutenants Nergal and Adad and many many others.

    Samaria was known as a city of priests, and a region of the Babylonian empire. Greek Egyptian and Roman philosophy and stories of their heroic half Men half gods, or gods themselves, can be traced directly to babylon. And, large portions of these religions were indoctrinated into Christianity which initially had none of these pagan qualities. As mentioned before, this was done through emperor Constantine starting in 325 ad.

    Unfortunately, the Christian religion has been subjugated by pagan beliefs through historical governments of men, mostly.

    I doubt if the good pastor is really knowledgeable about any of that. And, one would have to be a student of history and religion to make a proper statement on the situation.

    If you go by prophecy, the book of Daniel is very accurate in describing what is happening today. In the Christian Greek scriptures, the apostle Paul talks a lot about what’s happening today. Not then but right now.

    The Plato or platonic conception of Trinity, leads directly back to ancient Babylon and the Greek philosophers borrowing heavily from the ancient city-state. It’s actually the same with heaven and hell.

    The division between the priesthood and what we call layman, was another practice of the Babylonian city-state. And it has been passed on through philosophical writings and The Roman Nicene and ecumenical councils.

    The Jews were the only civilization that worshiped one god. Later on, the Christians were the same. Other than that, everything else was based on Babylonian deities and practices.

    2nd Corinthians 11:14, 15 reads; “and no wonder, for Satan himself keeps disguising himself as an angel of light. It is therefore nothing extraordinary if his ministers also keep disguising themselves as Ministers of righteousness. But their end will be according to their works.”

    I think the good pastor would get more response if he would stick to scripture and refute a lot of the Dogma being adhered to today. But, he’s more part of the problem than the solution. Scripture has predicted what’s happening today and warned of it for millennia. And like was mentioned earlier, it’s finally reached its saturation point. There really is no other place to go, no compass available to point in a new direction. Society will change drastically, and, religion will be banned for the most part. People will not be happy, but, I think everyone sees what’s coming. Most just deny it!

    Do Christians love their neighbor? No! Do Christians really love God? No! Do Christians stay away from idols? No! Look at the churches, they’re full of idols, they’re full of false doctrine and manipulated history. A statue of a white Jesus Christ is an idol, the statue of Mary is an idol, praying to saints is false doctrine and id

    Idolatric. The Eucharist is nonsense, we can go on and on, the Muslims praise allah, but Allah just means god! Scripture talks about God’s name, those who are in the Jewish faith see it in the tetragrammaton. Translated without the vowels it’s YHWH. Is very thing can be seen on ancient cathedrals and synagogues. But even God’s name is mostly forbidden nowadays. It’s easier to manipulate people when you keep them stupid. People are lazy, that’s why sloth is forbidden in Scripture.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it, and, some in our family.

    Matthew 22:21 reads; “then he said to them: pay back, therefore, Caesars things to caesar, but God’s things to god.”

    Read Romans the 13th chapter on why Christians should be obedient to the superior authorities. Which, is something that they definitely are not doing.

  20. All this about religions,based on a powerful myths. The biggest scam ever! Thereis no all powerful perfect thing in the sky! Intellectuals pontificating about a non existsnt thing! Good luck!

  21. Please forgive me for entering the arena. This reminds me of the Christian Canary pleading for help stopping the monster they created . Predictions of the future can and have been recorded and used to create fear for as long as we have kept a history of the human experience . How many books of Revelation were included in the book used by some major religions. Was Jesus a Christian ? If you say yes then you have been indoctrinated into a delusion that I am sure you could not disbelieve because it goes against every fiber of you being . That is just one example of a belief system that has been handed down as tradition and must be followed. So now we have a religious movement that doesn’t believe in science, facts or even the teachings that Christ left for all of us focus on for the betterement of every living system on this Globe . As long as humans can not accept that everything is not permeant including them selves we can never to advance but keeping falling back into fear of the other and have to defend our fears . I have friends and family members that are only interested in their personal salvation and the teachings of Jesus are guidelines because like they have told me a sin is a sin . Guns and force are ok to get to their fears to quiet down and recruite as many followers to back up the delusion that is now coming for the Christian Canary . So we have help them vote away and stop the insanity they created , sorry we have been doing this for all our lives . I can’t even talk to these people anymore they use reasoning that escapes common sense . One example is that back ground checks would do no good at all because anyone can go off their rocker at any time especially after a back ground check . I am all for this intervention so where do we all find common ground to start from?

  22. Look at the countries where religion is the law of the land. Most in conflict and dispare.

  23. Thanks, Sheila and John Pavlovitz! Don’t anyone try to step past Pavlovitz today. His message is what we only wish we could say. He wins, hands down!

  24. Once again, we can thank St.Reagan, for paving the way…to empowering these theocrats and to the emergence of Trump as a force, rather than a farce.

    Patrick, you have it right: If these folks take over NO ONE will be safe. They will make the Nazis look like Boy/GirlScouts.

    Voltaire said “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” And the coming atrocities will all be carried out in the name of their god-thing!

  25. Echoing and earlier comment, there’s a line from one of my favorite TV shows that I think sums up Pavlovitz on Evangelical Christians. It goes, “(they) think the Spanish Inquisition was just tough love for heretics.” An ironic thought given this is – or was – America.

    It’s likely to get a whole lot worse before this gets better, but we gotta fight regardless.

  26. Betty, LOL, really? So what could Pavlovitz say that you wish you could?

    Noel Hershfield,

    You are the expert? So explain how you know this! I can prove what I say about god, can you?


    Jesus Christ was a jew! Jesus Christ was also considered by some jews, the Messianic jews, the messiah! Other factions, not so much. The Sanhedrin did not like Jesus Christ because he usurped their authority. But Jesus Christ was still a jew. And, he was under the Mosaic law until he died. His teachings became Christ’s law, therefore those that adhered to his teachings were called Christians! Would there be something else that is a revelation?


    You quote Voltaire as others quote Plato or sotcrates, all of their stuff was made up anyway, no better than Sigmund Freud.

    Maybe Nostradamus would be a good choice? It seems more people believe him than believe in scripture. I guess the quatrains are their bible.

    It’s funny, you all quote men’s writings, but then criticize men for writing the bible!

    Therein lies the rub or the problem if you will, men have no clue, mankind has no clue, so, they believe what they choose to believe, they make up their own realities, both sides do it, you can’t criticize!

    Kind of, don’t do what I do, do what I say! Or, I don’t believe what you believe, even though it really is identical, so we have to separate ourselves.

    Lol, sad 😫🤣

  27. The Right Rev. Chicken Little needs to return to the central concern of Christ: saving souls. He spoke not of this world, but of the next. And- it is a rare election that doesn’t have a voice or several voices expressing the imminence of the Apocalypse if Candidate A or Proposition 1 doesn’t win. Our Great Nation will survive quite nicely, regardless of who attains temporary victory in 2022.

    Substitute Indiana for North Carolina
    We Democratic Hoosiers need to get our like minded folks out to vote. I will mass with you.
    Do we need to get arrested enmasse?
    MLK indicated you have to overwhelm the jails
    The narrative about voting and guns needs to be changed.
    Be WOKE

  29. The conservative Catholics are just as dangerous as the evangelicals, and in many situations more powerful.

  30. “The conservative Catholics are just as dangerous as the evangelicals, and in many situations more powerful.” Indeed, and 6 of 9 Supreme Court Justices are Catholic. Let that sink in.

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