'You literally started the culture wars': GOP's Lauren Boebert dunked in mockery for playing conservative victim
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) whined that conservatives had been drawn into the culture wars against their will, and she was harshly fact-checked.
"For years, conservatives refused to fight the so-called culture wars and it's gotten us to the point where Critical Race Theory is now mainstream," Boebert tweeted. "If you cede the culture, you cede the country. It's a battle that needs to be fought."
The lawmaker faced a swift backlash.
@laurenboebert Can you explain what Critical Race Theory is and where it’s taught?— JayEff 🏴☠️ (@JayEff 🏴☠️) 1624371066.0
@laurenboebert You've been manufacturing the "culture wars" for more year than I can remember. "The war on Christma… https://t.co/5nBhaon6uD— 100% vaxed! - Jeff (@100% vaxed! - Jeff) 1624372198.0
@laurenboebert Are you going to give another tour before the battle starts?— CB is Big Baby Jesus. (@CB is Big Baby Jesus.) 1624371055.0
@laurenboebert No one has taught CRT. Even if it was being taught, parents can choose to opt out, like we’ve always… https://t.co/cyhWzN0YWz— Caitlin (@Caitlin) 1624371152.0
@TacosAndTaint @laurenboebert I don’t think she’s learned anything more than the phrase.— CJS Photostore (@CJS Photostore) 1624373913.0
@laurenboebert Once again for those in the back. CRT IS A COLLEGE COURSE, IT IS NOT TAUGHT IN ANY OF THE GRADES K-… https://t.co/AXgsz6sF1i— Tardis Traveler (@Tardis Traveler) 1624376658.0
"For years, conservatives refused to fight the so-called culture wars" The Dixie Chicks would like a word. I mean… https://t.co/qOAuxlfkwO— Ethan Grey (@Ethan Grey) 1624373720.0
Since the 1970s, white American evangelicals – a large subsection of Protestants who hold to a literal reading of the Bible – have often managed to get specific privileges through their political engagement primarily through supporting the Republican Party.
In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan symbolically consolidated the alliance by bringing religious freedom and morality into public conversations that questioned the separation of church and state. In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act into law. In October 2020, President Donald Trump appointed a conservative evangelical, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court, and went on to win 80% of the white evangelical vote in the following month's election.
Trump went so far as to appoint a faith consultant board composed of influential evangelical leaders. They included Paula White, a well-known pastor and televangelist; and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, a leading organization in evangelical efforts to embed “family values" into politics. These panel members heralded gestures by Trump, such as signing the “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty," which targeted enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 tax law requiring houses of worship to stay out of politics in order to remain tax-exempt.
Although it's debated what specifically constitutes an evangelical, many agree that they are conservatives who are highly motivated by culture war issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and sexuality.
Over the past six years, I have been working with an interdisciplinary team of scholars at the American Academy of Religion to analyze generational shifts in evangelicalism and religion more broadly in the United States. We are finding that some of the younger evangelicals are openly questioning their religious and political traditions. In short, the majority of white evangelicals are aging and a portion of younger evangelicals are engaging in both religion and politics differently.
Leaving the faith versus reforming from within
My research consists of hours of participant observation within younger evangelical faith communities, along with 50 in-depth, qualitative interviews with individuals who were raised in the politically charged evangelicalism in the southeastern United States, a region dominated by evangelicals.
Taken together, this research indicates increasing disaffection among white millennial and Gen X evangelicals with the cultural and political preoccupations that have strongly motivated their parents and grandparents. There is a growing number of “Exvangelicals" who disavow their previous stances on same-sex marriage, race and sexuality.
Evangelicals, often citing the biblical text, typically maintain that marriage is between one man and one woman. Over 75% tend to worship in racially segregated congregations and favor gun rights and ownership more than other faith groups.
But my interviewees tend toward intense critiques of their previous religious tradition, as well as rejecting the evangelical faith completely.
This data parallels other scholarship unearthing racialized structures within white, American evangelicalism like the work of sociologist Robert P. Jones and religious studies scholar Anthea Butler. Likewise, historian Kristen Kobes Du Mez examines how hypermasculinity is embedded in American evangelicalism.
Expanding religion and politics
My research reveals communities of younger evangelicals who are expanding their religious boundaries and rethinking their stances on culture war issues, as well as questioning the merits of the culture war.
These younger evangelicals are trying to reform their communities from within the tradition as loyal but highly critical members. Sometimes these groups are called “emerging evangelicals" or “progressive Christians," with some debating whether “evangelical" as a label is redeemable.
I observed several younger evangelicals working within their religious communities to encourage acceptance of those outside of the Christian tradition as co-religionists on similar faith paths. They herald interfaith interactions as positive. One interviewee proudly detailed to me how her church partnered with the local imam and Muslim community to educate each other on their religious practices and volunteered together at a local food bank. This kind of attitude typically is resisted by their older evangelical counterparts, as I learned in previous research. Many traditional evangelicals believe that their faith is the sole path to religious redemption, and interfaith cooperation might harm their followers.
Additionally, some younger evangelicals tend toward adopting spiritual resources outside of the Christian tradition. Whether incorporating meditation techniques or yoga, my interviewees highlighted the ways in which they are exploring their religious and spiritual beliefs.
This contrasts with older evangelicals who perceive their tradition as providing all necessary resources for spiritual growth and reject any outside or Eastern influences. One interviewee noted that she had to change evangelical churches after her evangelical church prohibited her from being both a church member and a local yoga instructor.
Losing interest in the culture war
Many of the younger evangelicals in my study stated that their stances on culture war issues were significantly different from the evangelical majority of the past 50 years, which aligns with the findings of a 2017 Pew Research Center poll. This survey found that younger generations of millennials are more liberal than older evangelicals on numerous political issues.
My interviewees cited an acceptance and welcoming of those who identify as LGBTQ into their communities as both members and leaders. They support and ally with the objectives of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In sum, they are actively dismantling many of the insider/outsider distinctions established by older white evangelicals and transforming what it means to be a politically engaged evangelical in America.
Furthermore, many of the people that I spoke with cited a culture war fatigue. Some believe that evangelicalism's multi-decade investment in campaigning for these conservative stances and alliance with the Republican Party actually harmed the evangelical tradition instead of empowering it, while others are simply trying to opt out of the culture war and focus on their faith instead.
Influential figures like Paula White, left, helped rally evangelical support for Donald Trump, who in turn rewarded them with advisory and other roles in his administration.
Interviewees also told me that often their views are creating familial conflict, since their parents and grandparents cannot understand why any evangelical would not be committed to the older generations' conservative political causes.
Research to date, including my own, has yet to measure how widespread these shifts of attitude and belief among young white evangelicals may be. But there is other evidence of internal unraveling.
Take a recent announcement by Beth Moore, an influential evangelical speaker and author, that she has decided to leave the Southern Baptist Convention – the largest evangelical group in the U.S. – and end her relationship with a prominent evangelical publisher.
Or consider former Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president and pastor Russell Moore's recent departure from the Southern Baptist Convention's leadership, amid leaked communications over the denomination's handling of racial issues. These developments indicate a growing internal struggle over who can legitimately claim authority for the evangelical tradition.
The last several decades of American politics have been dominated by culture war issues, with white evangelicals in positions of national power. But as my research is documenting, a political transformation seems to be underway. With younger, white evangelicals rethinking their alliances and continued participation in the culture wars, it is possible that conservative politicians may not be able to count on white evangelical support for much longer.
This could have broader implications for the American political landscape. Without evangelical support and influence, the issues that are often at center stage could drastically change.
The surface of Venus is cracked and moves like ice floating on the ocean – likely due to tectonic activity
Much of the brittle, upper crust of Venus is broken into fragments that jostle and move – and the slow churning of Venus' mantle beneath the surface might be responsible. My colleagues and I arrived at this finding using decades-old radar data to explore how the surface of Venus interacts with the interior of the planet. We describe it in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 21, 2021.
Planetary scientists like me have long known that Venus has a plethora of tectonic landforms. Some of these formations are long, thin belts where the crust has been pushed together to form ridges or pulled apart to form troughs and grooves. In many of these belts there's evidence that pieces of the crust have moved side to side, too.
Our new study shows, for the first time, that these bands of ridges and troughs often mark the boundaries of flat, low-lying areas that themselves show relatively little deformation and are individual blocks of Venus' crust that have shifted, rotated and slid past each other over time – and may have done so in the recent past. It's a little like Earth's plate tectonics but on a smaller scale and more closely resembles pack ice that floats atop the ocean.
Where ice chunks collide, the ice is thrust upwards to create ridges much like what researchers think happens on Venus.
The crust of Venus is fractured into large pieces that behave more like chunks of ice floating on the ocean.
Researchers have hypothesized that – just like Earth's mantle – the mantle of Venus swirls with currents as it's heated from below. My colleagues and I modeled the sluggish but powerful movement of Venus' mantle and showed that it is sufficiently forceful to fragment the upper crust everywhere we've found these lowland blocks.
Why it matters
A major question about Venus is whether the planet has active volcanoes and tectonic faulting today. It's essentially the same size, composition and age as Earth – so why wouldn't it be geologically alive?
But no mission to Venus has yet conclusively shown the planet to be active. There's tantalizing but ultimately inconclusive evidence that volcanic eruptions have taken place there in the geologically recent past – and are perhaps even ongoing. The case for tectonic activity – the creaking, breaking and folding of the planet's crust – is on even less solid ground.
Showing that Venus' geological engine is still running would have huge implications for understanding the composition of the planet's mantle, where and how volcanism might be taking place today and how the very crust itself is formed, destroyed and replaced. Because our study suggests that some of this jostling of the crust is geologically recent, we may have taken a big step forward in understanding if Venus really is active today.
The largest block of lowlands the team found – the dark red shape in the center of this radar image – is about the size of Alaska and surrounded by ridges and deformations that show up as lighter colors.
What still isn't known
It's not clear just how widespread these crustal fragments are. My colleagues and I have found 58 so far, but that's almost certainly a low estimate.
We also don't yet know when these crustal blocks first formed, nor how long they've been moving around on Venus. Determining when the crust's fragmentation and jostling occurred is key – especially if planetary scientists want to understand this phenomenon in relation to the planet's suspected recent volcanic activity. Figuring that out would give us vital information on how the planet's surface features reflect the geological turmoil within.
This initial study has allowed my colleagues and me to make our best guess yet about how Venus' vast lowlands have been deformed, but we need much higher-resolution radar images and topographic data to build on this work. Luckily, that's exactly what scientists are going to get in the coming years, with NASA and the European Space Agency both recently announcing new missions bound for Venus later this decade. It'll be worth the wait to get a better understanding of Earth's enigmatic neighbor.
[The Conversation's science, health and technology editors pick their favorite stories. Weekly on Wednesdays.]
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