How We Became ‘Regime Evangelicals’ - Word&Way

How We Became ‘Regime Evangelicals’

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on a little-known Reformation-era theory that some far-right Calvinist Christians are invoking to justify Texas ignoring a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about immigration and border policies. And that’s how we accidentally became “regime evangelicals.” Don’t worry, it doesn’t make sense to us either.

Over on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, our piece was discovered by some proponents of the “lesser magistrates” idea that Christians should nullify laws and rulings they don’t like. Some of our critics christened us as regime evangelicals. We were a bit confused — especially since one of us (Jeremy) has never been a member of an evangelical church in his whole life. One person even tried out a mashup, calling us “regimgelicals” — which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue and sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Oh, the places we will go to understand our world of religion and politics.

As those and other comments poured in, we realized we had hit a nerve. One comment, two comments, red comments, blue comments — well, actually they were all pretty politically red. But not in a conventionally conservative manner. These were pastors, professors, political figures, and anonymous accounts with crusader imagery calling for political rebellion in Jesus’s name.

A supporter of the “Take Our Border Back” convoy hoists a flag to encourage the group as it passed by in Uvalde, Texas, on Feb. 2, 2024. (Michael Nigro/Sipa USA/Alamy)

We quickly realized we were right in our earlier piece as we warned about the threat of the lesser magistrates theology to democracy. Our critics were not arguing against our claim but were proudly embracing the idea of tearing down democracy. And so like the fish in The Cat in the Hat, we soon grew alarmed about the chaos they desired — especially since they won’t clean up the mess at the end of the story after they’ve released theocracy one and theocracy two into our nation’s house. Oh, we do not like it! Not one little bit!

Lest you think our imaginations have run amok, take a trip with us as we highlight some Christians who do not like democracy on a boat or with a goat, in the rain or on a train, in a house or with a mouse, or here or there or anywhere. While we laughed at some of the comments we received, the anti-democratic sentiment behind them should concern us all, especially since it’s being advanced as a Christian position.

While we’re still not quite sure what “regimgelicals” actually are — or which regime is supposed to be paying us for our work — we do think U.S. Christians should be wary of those who want to overthrow democracy. So this issue of A Public Witness looks at the feedback we received from proponents of the lesser magistrates philosophy before explaining why Christians should instead value democracy. Oh, the thinks we will think.


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