Another roundup of culture war news from around the interwebs:
PJ Media reports on disturbing new developments in the case of James Younger, a Texas boy who has been dubbed transgender by his mother over the protestations of his father, who notes that he only every “identifies” as a girl when he is with his mother. Read it here.
Just how widespread is the Qanon conspiracy theory in Christian churches? According to this sobering analysis, spreading fast. If you’re wondering how this all came about, take a minute to read this.
How pro-life is Donald Trump? While his record has been unabashedly pro-life—and several people who have spoken to him assure me that his convictions on the issue are genuine—his comments indicate someone still working through the issue. From The Spectator:
According to some rather sensational leaked official notes in Sunday’s Daily Telegraph, however, Trump has said he regards abortion as ‘such a tough issue’. Addressing the then British prime minister Theresa May, who is well known as childless, Trump said in January 2017: ‘Imagine some animal with tattoos raping your daughter, and then she gets pregnant.’
Aside from the staggering crassness of his remark to a woman who is on the record about her inability to have children, it also suggests that Trump is not as pro-life as many in his party would have voters believe. According to the notes, Trump also pointed to Mike Pence, the Vice President and devout Christian, and said, ‘He’s a really tough one on abortion.’ Was he just trying to show May that he could see both sides of the argument?
It doesn’t matter a whole lot, of course—Trump’s record is what counts. But the story of his evolution from liberal pro-choice Manhattan billionaire to whatever he is now is one of the most fascinating stories of modern politics.
Speaking of fascinating stories in modern politics, the still-unfolding sordid saga of the Falwells, lately of Liberty University (and now cut loose from the board.) From John Jalsevac:
What I am interested in is what this scandal reveals about us – i.e. the Christians who have spent the past four years reshaping ourselves to adapt to our weird allegiance with the politician who Falwell famously endorsed in a shock announcement in January 2016, helping Trump clinch the support of the religious right, and win the GOP primary. Of all the people who were shocked at the time, probably no one was more shocked than Ted Cruz. Why? Because Falwell had, by all accounts, promised to endorse Cruz when the time came. And he hadn’t given the Cruz camp any hint that he was reconsidering, or the courtesy of a heads-up when he changed his mind.
So, what happened? The explanations given by Falwell at the time were straight-forward: He had talked to some well-placed people-in-the-know, gotten a new perspective, and was now convinced that Trump was the best candidate. And hey, why not? That’s politics, baby!
As of this week, however, we know that things were much more complicated – and perverse – than that.
For years now, weird and wild rumours have swirled around about the Falwells: rumours about sexual trysts with a hotel pool boy, and racy photos featuring Falwell’s wife, and blackmail, and large, questionable business loans to said pool boy, and involvement in a seedy LGBT hostel business. Oh, and also an effort by Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to obtain and destroy the aforementioned photos, allegedly in exchange for Falwell’s endorsement of Trump. Up til now, conservatives have managed to dismiss most of this as the scandal-mongering of a corrupt, liberal mainstream media, repeating unsubstantiated rumours just to taint the reputation of one of Trump’s most vocal evangelical supporters. Deep state stuff. Now, however, we know that most of it’s true.
Earlier this week, Falwell published a statement in the Washington Examiner admitting that his wife had an affair with a certain Giancarlo Granda (who worked, yes, as a hotel pool boy), and claiming that Granda has been subjecting the family to blackmail.
As it turns out, Falwell’s self-serving statement was timed to get ahead of an article, published hours later by Reuters, giving Granda’s side of the story. If the Reuters report is to be believed (and Reuters claims to have reviewed evidence verifying many of the more sordid allegations) Falwell’s version of events is less than complete, and far from candid. Indeed, it appears that, rather than being involved in a brief relationship with Granda (as Falwell’s statement claimed), Becki Falwell (Falwell’s wife) engaged in serial infidelity with Granda over the space of several years, that Jerry was fully aware of the relationship, and that he may have even watched the illicit sexual encounters. The Falwells, it seems, were swingers.
On the one hand, it’s all so gross, and puerile, and pointless. But on the other, it’s arguably cataclysmic in terms of how we interpret the events of the past few years. Let’s take a quick journey back to January 2016, shall we? At the time, we were in the middle of a heated primary campaign. The thing was a toss-up. On the one hand, the field was thick with qualified candidates. On the other, nobody stood out as substantially different from the vanilla candidates the GOP had put up (unsuccessfully) in the previous two elections.
Except, of course, for Donald Trump.
Remember how conservative Christians talked about Trump at the time? I do. Vividly. Most of the conservatives I knew couldn’t stand him. That he was boorish, vulgar, and unprincipled, a reality-TV star down to his bones, with the substance of a cyanide-laced cream puff, was treated as a truism.
But also (one had to admit) he was…different. A fighter. A winner (those bankruptcies aside). A slugger in the debates (even if not always exactly coherent).
But still, emphatically not our man. We had Cruz. And Rubio. The former a little weird, perhaps. The latter a little safe. Neither entirely reliable; but both basically principled, and decent, and competent.
Then, days before the Iowa caucus, Jerry Falwell, Jr. (the Jerry Falwell Jr.!) endorsed Trump. And suddenly Trump had the moral authority of the Falwell family (the Falwell family) and Liberty University (the Liberty University) behind him.
That was a game changer.
Other evangelical leaders sat up and took notice. After all, there was simply no way – we all thought – someone in Falwell’s position, and of Falwell’s stature, would endorse Trump on a whim. Clearly, Falwell had been meeting with his well-placed political friends, and knew something we didn’t. And he had decided to take a risk. Perhaps we needed to take a risk too, and do something different. Shake things up.
Now, however, we know what we didn’t know then: That those who took their cue from Falwell (and plenty did) and mollified their objections to Trump with appeals to Falwell’s precedent, were not (as they thought) following the prayerful and well-informed discernment of a spiritual leader with privileged access to pertinent information. At best, they were following the addled, self-serving calculations of a man living neck-deep in sin; at worst, they were caving to the blackmail of a fornicating pool boy.
Read the whole thing. These revelations really are astonishing. Liberty University is one of America’s most important Christian institutions, and with Jerry Falwell Jr. finally gone, I hope that they can recover from this.
This, from Christian Concern, is huge news—and should be a mainstream media bombshell considering how often journalists shill for the trans movement:
Last month, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a major correction to a study that had promoted gender reassignment surgery. The study was based on data from nearly the entire population of Sweden. As such, it was promoted as solid evidence that gender reassignment surgery led to better mental health outcomes for patients than not having surgery. The correction admitted that due to problems with its method, the study’s outcome did not make sense of the data used. The editors were forced to conclude that,
“the results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care visits or prescriptions or hospitalizations following suicide attempts in that comparison.”
This new conclusion stands in rather stark contrast to the previous one, and should really have an effect on healthcare policies on gender reassignment internationally.
I suspect it won’t. But the evidence continues to pile up: The trans movement’s foundational premises are lies.
Speaking of which, J.K. Rowling is still holding strong on her position on transgender issues. The latest:
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling says she is returning an award from a human rights group linked to the Kennedy family after the president of the organization criticized her comments about transgender issues. Rowling’s decision comes after Kerry Kennedy, the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights nonprofit and the late American senator’s daughter, published a statement expressing her “profound disappointment” with the author’s comments.
“The statement incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people,” Rowling said on her website.
That’s all for this week. More soon!