What Evangelicals Want (For Now)

After attending my first Quaker meeting in North Carolina 25 years ago, someone approached me. “You know,” he said with a hushed voice, “we’re not going to invite you back.” It wasn’t rude, the message was simply, “Cool if you return, cool if you don’t.”

Evangelicals are the opposite, their whole raison d’être is to persuade others to believe and behave like them. So when it comes to immigration, what do they want non-believers, Quakers, more social justice minded Christians, and the huddled masses to believe?

In “Why Rank-And-File Evangelicals Aren’t Likely To Turn On Trump Over Family Separation”, fivethirtyeight.com explains that for now they want everyone to just “. . . obey the the law and defer to the president’s authority.”

“Robert Jeffress, the pastor of Dallas’s First Baptist Church and a strong Trump supporter, told FiveThirtyEight that the separation of children from their parents was ‘disturbing’ but quickly added that Trump has the “God-given responsibility” to secure the border in the way he deems appropriate and punish people breaking the law, even if it appears harsh.”

When the national political pendulum inevitably swings, and a newly elected liberal president promotes more progressive immigration policies possibly including amnesty, don’t expect Robert Jeffress to wax philosophic about deferring to the president’s “God-given responsibility”.

Jeffress isn’t saying Trump is advocating exactly what evangelicals think Jesus might if he were advising on immigration policy today. In fact, I don’t think he’s referencing Jesus’s interactions with the poor and dispossessed at all. He’s saying everyone should respect the authority of the president because us evangelicals share his views on immigrants.

What are those views?

“. . . polling on white evangelical Protestants has shown that they’re more likely than any other religious group to support hardline immigration policies and to have negative views of immigrants overall. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants are in favor of expanding the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.”

Does crossing the border illegally give evangelicals cart blanche for thinking of immigrants negatively? How does that justify their “hardline immigration policies” given Jesus’s preference for the poor, the downtrodden, the illegal? Evangelicals, what’s the biblical basis for your viewing immigrants so negatively?

“These findings line up with results from other surveys too, like a 2017 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute that found that white evangelical Protestants were the only religious group in which a majority (57 percent) said they’re bothered when they encounter immigrants who don’t speak English. They were also the likeliest to say that they have little or nothing in common with immigrants.”

I wonder if Jesus was bothered by people who spoke different languages? I wonder if he felt like he had little or nothing in common with those crossing borders. Also, I wonder how many evangelicals really know any immigrants on a personal level. My guess is, for the vast majority, immigrants are abstractions largely created by conservative news outlets that play on their default fear of the unfamiliar. Do evangelicals have more than sporadic, cursory, largely economic interactions with immigrants?

I’m lucky to be married to someone who teaches numerous immigrants English. A few have become family friends. The one distinguishing characteristic among all of them is their incredible work ethic. I find that, coupled with their desire to improve their families’ lives, tremendously inspiring.

“Daniel Cox, the research director at PRRI, said these findings help explain why evangelicals aren’t likely to abandon Trump over the child separation crisis, even if they’re troubled by it. ”More than other groups, white evangelical Protestants seem to perceive immigrants as a threat to American society,’ he said. ‘So even if they don’t like this particular policy, they’re on board with Trump’s approach to immigration in general, and that makes it likelier that they’ll see this as a tactical misstep rather than a breaking point.'”

How will evangelicals’ “hardline immigration policies” impact their efforts to fulfill their destiny by continuously adding to their fold? They must hope to convince potential converts that immigrants are a detriment to our nation’s well-being. And to ignore our nation’s history. And to fear cultural differences. And to defer to this President’s authority (but probably not the next).

Good luck with that. Thomson-DeVeaux concludes, “Hardline immigrant policies won’t necessarily work forever.”

“Past PRRI polling has shown that younger white evangelicals are much likelier than older white evangelicals to believe that immigrants strengthen the country or to agree that immigrants are the victims of discrimination, which may reduce their support for restrictionist immigration policies in the long term.”

When it comes to evangelicalism, the future can’t come quick enough.

Preserving Privilege

According to the WaPo, several private schools in the D.C. area, including Sidwell Friends, are scrapping Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

The schools issued a statement explaining:

“Collectively, we believe a curriculum oriented toward collaborative, experiential and interdisciplinary learning will not only better prepare our students for college and their professional futures, but also result in more engaging programs for both students and faculty,” the schools said. “We expect this approach will appeal to students’ innate curiosity, increase their motivation and fuel their love of learning.”

There’s little educational value in the Advanced Placement program. It’s primary purpose is to give privileged kids a leg up on their peers.

The scrapping of AP classes is a smart move, but lets not kids ourselves, Sidwell Friends and company made this move not just to appeal to students’ innate curiosity, increase their motivation, and fuel their love of learning. No doubt they expect the new and improved curricula to do an even better job of preserving their students’ privilege. That’s the lifeblood of those schools.

The Truth About the Ultra Rich

They’re very different one from another. Too often, people paint them with a broad brush.

The Buffets, Gates, Bloombergs, Allens are intent on contributing to the common good. Big time. In the case of the Gates Foundation, they seek to enhance global healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.

Then there’s the oil billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch. Read what motivates them, in “How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country“.

“The Kochs’ opposition to transit spending stems from their longstanding free-market, libertarian philosophy. It also dovetails with their financial interests, which benefit from automobiles and highways.

One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.

‘Stopping higher taxes is their rallying cry,’ said Ashley Robbins, a researcher at Virginia Tech who follows transportation funding. ‘But at the end of the day, fuel consumption helps them.'”

The Koch brothers oppose whatever slows their fortune from growing ever larger. Things like low income people gaining mobility and conserving natural resources.

David Koch’s networth is between $50 and $60 billion. How much is enough? Based on his actions, no amount.

Twice The Fun, Half the Money

Two words. University housing. Few travelers know that most universities have housing options for any visitors looking to save serious money on nearby hotels. Many times the options range from inexpensive minimalist dorm rooms with shared bathrooms to modestly priced hotel-like rooms with private bathrooms.

The Good Wife and I just spent three days living in a small, but very clean and comfortable hotel-like room on the campus of The University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The centrally located hotel is normally filled with conference participants, job candidates, and visiting faculty. The first night we watched our President pal around with the world’s worst dictator on a 42″ plasma t.v. and throughout our stay we luxuriated in the large commercial kitchen that came complete with a giant fridge/freezer; precise tubs and instructions for labeling our food; free fruit, tea, and coffee; newspapers; and an expresso maker complete with two types of beans waiting to be grinded.

And don’t forget U.S. readers, everything north of the border is currently 24% off, so our three nights cost $302. See how far that will get you in downtown Vancouver.

It gets better. Large university campuses like UBC, go Thunderbirds, have tons to recommend them, especially in the summer, when there’s a tiny fraction of the normal number of people. On our first campus walk, we met a man who befriended us and told us we had to visit the Rose Garden because “the roses knew you were coming, so they’re blooming” and also the Museum of Anthropology which has the world’s largest collection of Pacific Northwest indigenous art.

We dug the roses and the MOA, but the cheap vegetarian restaurants on campus rocked too. And the running was great, the trail that looped the campus, the tartan track, the coastline trail. Next time we’ll take our bicycles because West Vancouver’s ubiquitous bike lanes we’re calling us.

Best of all though was the swimming. After arriving, we learned a new state of the art aquatic center had recently opened in the middle of campus. BEST pool ever. Tons of natural light, beautiful materials, white, clean, spacious—the hot tub is designed for 34. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Entrance to heaven, $5. Bring a quarter or a loonie for a small or large locker and your own towel, shampoo, and soap.

The pool was set up for long course. I could’ve swam, hot tubbed, and steam roomed all day. The only mistake I made was diving off the 3 meter board. Trying to impress the Gal Pal was not worth tweaking my shoulder.

Speaking of swimming, the nearby 137 meter long Kitsilano pool, or Kits pool if you’re cool, was what inspired our trip to West Vancouver. We were mesmerized by the pictures. Not sure it was real, we knew we had to experience it ourselves. It’s described as the third sexiest pool in the world, but that was before The Good Wife graced it with her presence. It was hard to get her out of the water. We had perfect timing too, decent weather, a week after $3.3m in improvements, but a week or two before the summer surge.

And if you’re fortunate enough to visit Vancouver, don’t miss the Granville Island Public Market for some nice art and excellent food. Speaking of food, the first night we ate at Lido, one of the Richmond restaurants featured in the previously highlighted NYT article. We we’re the only non-Asians for as far as the eye could see, super cool. The bok choy, green beans, chicken, and white super sticky rice were off the charts. Heads up—they only take cash and get Canadian money in advance because they don’t want to be bothered with silly currency adjustments.

The best part of this trip, besides reconnecting with my best friend, was mixing with locals the whole time. Downtown we would’ve been two of thousands of tourists. On campus, in coffee houses, at Kits Beach, everywhere we went, we were surrounded by ordinary Canadians, largely Chinese-Canadians, living their daily lives. As travelers, that’s how we’ve always rolled.

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UBC’s New Aquatic Center

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Kits Pool

 

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Now The Sexiest Pool En Todo El Mundo

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Post coastline to downtown run and leisurely swim with far fewer flip turns than normal.

Saturday Assorted Links

1. If you’re like me, it takes the World Cup to generate much interest in football. And if like me, your country didn’t qualify, you’re in search of a team. I present to you a cogent argument for Peru or La Blanquirroja.

2. Can you guess the language that is eating the world?

3. The beginning of the end for college admission tests?

“Starting this fall, Chicago will invite applicants to send a two-minute video ‘introduction.’ That idea echoes Goucher College’s recent embrace of video as a means of connecting with teenagers who grew up filming themselves with smartphones.”

4. I am often saddened by how casually acquaintances and friends of mine talk despairingly about the homeless. How best to help troubled men and women without homes raises more questions than answers. Progress is slow at best. In the meantime, there is something we can do for however long it takes to make genuine progress. We can acknowledge homeless men’s and women’s human dignity by treating them kindly. More specifically, we can take the lead from this African American man in challenging people’s anti-homeless cruelty.

5. Love never forgets.

6. This saddens me. Greatly. Of course the same could be written about Eldrick Tiger Woods and Ronaldo (no relation, despite the physical similarities) Byrnes.

And In Other News

You know how people say, “I’m between jobs”, well, I’m between vacations. Yesterday I returned from my Tour de France preparations held in an undisclosed location in a state that starts with the letter “O”. 346 miles with lots of climbing. Would’ve been more if not for winter conditions yesterday. Now I’m just waiting for the phone call from a team still looking for someone who can reach the podium in Paris.

And in thirty minutes the Good Wife and I are off to an undisclosed location in a country that starts with the letter “C”. Here’s hoping they let us in given our President’s sad and sick bluster of recent days.

Some miscellaneous thoughts from the road:

• It’s amazing that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are walking the earth at the same time.

• To Dean who wrote thoughtfully about how to prep high schoolers for college. Initial thought. We need to reframe the question to how do we as elementary, middle school, high school teachers and egghead professors prepare students for life, not just the next stage of educational credentialing. Related thought. In a recent NYT essay about suicide the author said young people are way more anxious because they know way more is riding on their academic success or lack thereof. The author made it sound like young people’s fragile mental health is happening in a vacuum, but young people are simply responding to the cues set by their teachers, coaches, and most especially parents. We have to help young people worry less while preparing them for life.

• This week, if I eat like last week, I will gain about 15 lbs.

• Last week, during a mid-ride break, a 75 year old man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat was helping at a food stop. I asked if he was happy with Trump. To which he replied, “Yes! He has exceeded my expectations. I was worried he was just a talker.” I don’t interact very regularly with real live Trumpeters.

• I wonder, what would people’s attitudes be towards the summit with NKorea if they had any inkling of how evil the Kim regime is?

• In a few hours, the Gal Pal and I will be gaining weight here. Don’t hate me because you ain’t me.

• Back Friday. Peace.