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By the Way: A white nationalist’s many mistruths
04-05-2024 5:34 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, a Religious Right organization, has a history of involvement with the Ku Klux Klan in his home state of Louisiana. In 1996, while running the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of his friend and...

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By the Way: Reckoning with white evangelical racism
07-05-2024 9:01 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

As someone who was reared as an evangelical, I resisted for decades the charge that white evangelicals were racist. Sure, I knew about segregation academies and places like Bob Jones University, but I was also aware that many evangelical megachurches...


By the Way: Sian Beilock can mend her frayed reputation
05-31-2024 8:01 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Like many campuses across the nation, Dartmouth College has been roiling with unrest over the war in Gaza.On May 1, the college’s president called in local police and state troopers with riot gear to arrest 89 students, faculty, staff and community...


The tragedy of evangelical anti-feminism
05-03-2024 10:21 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

I wish I could say that the death of Beverly LaHaye on April 14 signaled the end of an era, but I’m afraid that’s not the case.Please understand that I’m not reveling in her demise (or anyone else’s), but she together with antifeminist Phyllis...


By the Way: Music drew me to the Episcopal Church
03-01-2024 5:43 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Sometimes I’m asked how someone who grew up evangelical—a fundamentalist, really—became an Episcopalian and eventually an Episcopal priest. I typically reply with a semi-flippant answer: It was a reaction to the aesthetic deprivation of my...


By the Way: The unforced errors of first-year college presidents
02-02-2024 4:47 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Early in my career, a senior colleague warned that funky things tend to happen during the first year of a college presidency. As a new president settles into the job, poor decisions and unforced errors seem to follow almost inevitably — although they...


By the Way: The perils of plagiarism
01-06-2024 1:32 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

In the late 1980s, while I was teaching at Columbia University, I received an urgent request to attend a meeting at Union Theological Seminary. I don’t recall everyone who was in the room, but the half dozen or so in attendance included several...


Column: The powers of popes and presidents wax and wane over time
12-03-2023 7:15 AM

By RANDALL BALMER

As a historian, I’ve long been fascinated by the parallels and the contrasts between the Roman Catholic papacy and the United States presidency.Let’s start with the obvious and the superficial. Both offices have been populated only with men, the...


Column: Welcome, Mr. Speaker, and good luck
11-06-2023 7:17 AM

By RANDALL BALMER

Dear Mr. Speaker:Congratulations on your selection as speaker of the House of Representatives. I can’t imagine why anyone would want the job, but it’s yours. When I was department chair, I often compared the job to herding cats, which I confess is not...


Column: Ambiguities of inclusion in faith communities
10-02-2023 12:32 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Any honest appraisal of American Christianity in the twenty-first century is sobering. Survey data and anecdotal evidence agree that Christianity is losing its hold on American life. A majority of Americans still regard themselves as Christian, but...


Column: ‘Christian Right’ is an oxymoron
09-11-2023 1:28 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Is there anything discernibly “Christian” about the Religious Right? If the answer is no — and I think it is — why do journalists and pundits persist in referring to the political movement overwhelmingly populated with white evangelicals as the...


Column: It’s not easy being a consumer
08-07-2023 12:12 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Dear Groupon, please forgive me for not responding sooner to your kind invitation — actually, three invitations — to review the stamp dispenser I ordered. I’m teaching several courses right now, we’re in the process of moving and my in-laws are in bad...


Column: We should observe Jan. 6 in addition to July 4
07-01-2023 10:04 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, July Fourth, let’s consider the possibility of another holiday. The United States should designate Jan. 6 as an annual Day of Remembrance, modeled on Guy Fawkes Day in Great Britain.On Nov. 5, 1605, British...


Column: Suppose they held a schism and nobody left
06-17-2023 9:21 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

Stop me if you’re heard this before. A major Protestant denomination is splitting over issues of sexual identity and practice.In 2003, it was the election and consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire that prompted an...


Column: Jimmy Carter and the crucible of race
03-13-2023 9:59 AM

By RANDALL BALMER

“You won’t like my campaign,” Jimmy Carter warned Vernon Jordan of the United Negro College Fund toward the conclusion of Carter’s second run for governor in 1970. “But you will like my administration.” When Carter was sworn in as governor on Jan. 12,...


Column: A tale of two governors in two states, one red and one blue
02-06-2023 9:47 AM

By RANDALL BALMER

Last November, two governors, the Republican governor of Iowa and the Democratic governor of New Mexico, overwhelmingly won reelection. Each enjoys legislative majorities from her own party.The way each governor has chosen to exercise her mandate...


Column: Megachurches reach beyond evangelicals
12-03-2022 10:00 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

As someone who studies religion in North America, I’m often asked if there are any non-evangelical megachurches. The answer is an emphatic yes. I recently spent a Sunday at one, St. Andrew United Methodist Church, in the suburbs of Denver.Many...


Column: The wit and wisdom of Louie Gohmert
12-07-2021 10:00 AM

By RANDALL BALMER

Louie Gohmert, Republican member of Congress from Texas, announced last week that he was giving up his seat to run for attorney general in Texas.At the very least, this should be entertaining.Gohmert is widely considered the dumbest member of Congress...


Column: Inside the Mormon money machine
04-03-2021 10:30 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

James Huntsman wants his money back. We’re not talking here about a refund for a defective car battery or food processor. We’re talking about millions of dollars that Huntsman claims to have donated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...


Column: Revival or rerun? Return of the televangelists
06-01-2019 11:00 PM

By RANDALL BALMER

In case you hadn’t noticed, the televangelists are back. They may be less obvious than before, because they have taken advantage of a fractured media landscape. Whereas during their earlier heyday, the 1980s, they competed in a less crowded field and...

Displaying articles 1 to 19 out of 19 total.
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