The Tiny Blond Bible Teacher Taking on the Evangelical Political Machine

Beth Moore grew her flock by teaching scripture to women—and being deferential to men. Now her outspokenness on sexism could cost her everything.

When beth moore arrived in Houston in the 1980s, she found few models for young women who wanted to teach scripture. Many conservative Christian denominations believed that women should not hold authority over men, whether in church or at home; many denominations still believe this. In some congregations, women could not speak from the lectern on a Sunday or even read the Bible in front of men. But Moore was resolute: God, she felt, had called her to serve. So she went where many women in Texas were going in the ’80s: aerobics class. Moore kicked her way into ministry, choreographing routines to contemporary Christian music for the women of Houston’s First Baptist Church.

At the time, most Texas seminaries weren’t offering the kind of instruction she sought, so Moore found a private tutor. Slowly, she started getting invitations to speak at women’s luncheons and study groups, in exchange for a plate of food or a potted plant. In tiny church social halls, she laid the cornerstone of an evangelical empire.

Moore’s audience seemed to be starved for a teacher who understood their lives. To them, she was a revelation: a petite bottle blonde from Arkadelphia, Arkansas, who could talk seriously about Jesus one moment and the impossibility of finding decent child care the next. As charismatic as her male peers, she was also earnest and charmingly self-deprecating. Friends call her Beth La Ham.

In one of her most famous talks, Moore describes an encounter with a haggard, elderly man in an airport terminal. Suddenly, she feels called by God to brush the man’s hair—not to bear witness to him, or even help him board his plane, but to smooth his tangled locks. Moore describes her embarrassment, recounting her inner dialogue with God, in which she tries to talk her way out of the divine directive. Ultimately, however, she obeys. What began as a comic set piece ends as a moving testament to faith and the power of intimate acts of kindness. The Lord knows what our need is, Moore says. “The man didn’t need witnessing to. He needed his hair brushed!”

By the late ’90s, women were packing sports arenas to hear Moore tell this and other parables. She earned speaking slots at big-name churches, including Hillsong and Saddleback, whose pastor, Rick Warren, calls her a dear friend. “She’s a singularly influential figure among evangelicals as a woman leader,” Ed Stetzer, the executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, the elite evangelical school outside of Chicago, told me. “Beth just is a category by herself.”

A publishing career followed, further magnifying Moore’s influence. She was the first woman to have a Bible study published by LifeWay, the Christian retail giant, and has since reached 22 million women, the most among its female authors. Today, her Bible studies are ubiquitous, guiding readers through scriptural passages with group-discussion questions and fill-in-the-blank workbooks. “It would be hard to find a church anywhere where at least some segment of the congregation has not been through at least one Beth Moore study,” Russell Moore, the head of the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (and no relation to Beth) told me.

Moore’s success was possible because she spent her career carefully mapping the boundaries of acceptability for female evangelical leaders. She rarely spoke to the press and made a point of keeping her politics to herself. Her persona embodies what a young fan described to me as the “Southern-belle white Christian woman.”

Privately, however, Moore has never cared much for the delicate norms of Christian femininity. Her days are tightly scheduled and obsessively focused on writing. She spends hours alone in an office decorated with a Bible verse written in a swirling font (“I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven,” Luke 7:47). Though she often performs domestic femininity for her audience, in her own life she has balanced motherhood with demanding professional ambitions. She traveled every other weekend while her two daughters were growing up—they told me they ate a lot of takeout. Like other Southern Baptists, Moore considers herself a complementarian: She believes the Bible teaches that men and women have distinctive roles and that men should hold positions of authority and leadership over women in the home and in the church. Yet her husband, Keith, a retired plumber, sees his vocation as helping his wife succeed. “That’s what I do,” he told me. “I lay blocks so O.J. can run.”

For decades, Moore never broke stride. In the past few years, however, she has felt out of step with the evangelical community. During the 2016 campaign, many of its leaders not only excused Donald Trump’s boorish behavior but painted him as a great defender of Christianity—evangelicals’ “dream president,” in the words of Jerry Falwell Jr. More recently, a series of high-profile pastors have been toppled by accusations of sexual misconduct. The deferential reserve that defined Moore’s career has become harder for her to maintain.

On a chilly Texas evening recently, Moore and I sat in rocking chairs on her porch. It was the first time she had invited a reporter to visit her home, on the outskirts of Houston. Moore, who is 61, was the consummate hostess, fussing about feeding me and making sure I was warm enough beside the mesquite-wood fire. But as we settled into conversation, her demeanor changed. She fixed her perfectly mascaraed eyes on me. “The old way is over,” she said. “The stakes are too high now.”

Moore was flying home from a ministry event in October 2016 when she decided to compose the tweets that changed her life. That weekend, she had glimpsed headlines about Donald Trump’s 2005 comments on the now infamous Access Hollywood tape. But it wasn’t until that plane ride, with newspapers and transcripts spread out in front of her, that Moore learned the full extent of it—including the reaction of some Christian leaders who, picking up a common line of spin, dismissed the comments as “locker-room talk.”

“I was like, ‘Oh no. No. No,’ ” Moore told me. “I was so appalled.” Trump’s ugly boasting felt personal to her: Many of her followers have confided to her that they’ve suffered abuse, and Moore herself says she was sexually abused as a small child by someone close to her family—a trauma she has talked about publicly, though never in detail.

The next day, Moore wrote a few short messages to her nearly 900,000 followers. “Wake up, Sleepers, to what women have dealt with all along in environments of gross entitlement & power,” she said in one tweet. “Are we sickened? Yes. Surprised? NO.” Like other women, Moore wrote, she had been “misused, stared down, heckled, talked naughty to.” As pastors took to the airwaves to defend Trump, she was trying to understand how “some Christian leaders don’t think it’s that big a deal.”

The tweets upended Moore’s cheerful, feminine world. Breitbart News claimed that Moore was standing “in the gap for Hillary Clinton,” borrowing a turn of phrase from the Book of Ezekiel. Moore did not support Clinton; she told me she voted for a third-party candidate in 2016. But she was horrified by church leaders’ reflexive support of Trump. To Moore, it wasn’t just a matter of hypocrisy, of making a deal with the devil that would deliver a Supreme Court seat, among other spoils. Moore believes that an evangelical culture that demeans women, promotes sexism, and disregards accusations of sexual abuse enabled Trump’s rise.

Evangelicals, Moore said, have “clearer lines between men and women and how they serve.” But sometimes, “that attitude is no longer about a role in a church. It becomes an attitude of gender superiority. And that has to be dealt with.” Moore may be a complementarian, but she is adamant that Christian men should not treat women “any less than Jesus treated women in the Gospels: always with dignity, always with esteem, never as secondary citizens.”

This may seem like an uncontroversial stance. But in the wake of her tweets, the staff at Living Proof Ministries, Moore’s tight-knit organization, “could not hang up the phone for picking it up.” She got messages from women who had read her Bible studies for years but said they’d never read another. Event attendance dropped.

A number of male evangelical leaders asked Moore to recant. A few days later, she returned to Twitter to clarify that she was not making an endorsement in the election. She felt depressed, she told me: “I can’t tell you how many times … I faced toward heaven with tears streaming down my cheeks, thinking, Have I lost my mind?

But her reproachful tweets seem all the more apt today. In recent months, several high-profile pastors—including Bill Hybels, the founder of the Chicagoland mega-church Willow Creek—have stepped down following accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct, or assault. (Hybels has denied the allegations against him.) Paige Patterson, the head of a Southern Baptist seminary, was pushed out after reports surfaced that he had downplayed women’s physical and sexual abuse throughout his years in ministry, including encouraging them not to report allegations of rape and assault to the police.

These events have emboldened Moore. Whereas her criticisms of church leaders were once veiled, she now speaks her mind freely. She blogged icily about meeting a prominent male theologian who looked her up and down and told her she was prettier than another famous female Bible teacher. She has castigated the evangelical movement for selling its soul to buy political wins. Moore is hopeful that a reckoning is finally under way. “There is a very strong saying that Peter used himself, that judgment begins in the house of God. And I do believe that’s what’s happening.”

White evangelicals helped elect Donald Trump, and they may well decide his political future, as soon as the 2018 midterms. While it can seem as if the whole of evangelicalism has embraced the president, Trump has in fact exacerbated deep fracture lines within the movement. Christians of color have expressed rage over what they see as abandonment by their brothers and sisters in the faith; many have even left their congregations.

Among women, the picture is cloudier. Polling has suggested that at least some Christian women may share Moore’s chagrin at the president’s behavior. During his first year or so in office, Trump’s approval rating among white evangelical women fell 13 points, compared with an eight-point drop among all women, according to Pew. Young Christians, in particular, may reshape evangelical politics. According to a study conducted by Pew, compared with their older peers, Millennial evangelicals are 12 percentage points more likely to favor stricter environmental regulations and 22 points more likely to support same-sex marriage. Young evangelical women may believe in male authority, but they’re also not afraid to talk about sexual abuse.

For the moment, however, most evangelical women look like Beth Moore’s traditional fan base: white and middle-aged. Not long ago, I joined a line of these women—purses slung over their shoulders, Bibles in hand—as they waited outside a mega-church near Seattle. The event was billed as an “intimate” gathering, but 5,000 women sitting in a church auditorium is intimate only by contrast with the arena-size crowds Moore hosted in the past. Trips to the bathroom were a lost cause. As a worship band warmed up the room, the energy was somewhere between a pep rally and a slumber party. On her way to the stage, Moore worked the room in stiletto boots, greeting strangers like old friends.

Onstage, she gave the kind of performance that made her evangelical-famous, a manic outpouring that combined the rhythms of a tight stand-up routine and the earnestness of a Sunday-school lesson. “Some of you are here because you are trying to just get away from the children,” she told the audience, which whooped obligingly. “Some of you are here to see if I’m as big a fruitcake as they say that I am, and”—here Moore emitted a theatrical little gasp-laugh, like helium escaping a balloon—“you probably already have your answer.”

Debbie, 54, my seatmate, had been to eight Beth Moore events. She told me she was in the midst of the worst three years of her life, but that “God’s always met me here.” As the event wound down, women ran down the aisle of the auditorium, eager to claim their salvation, weeping as they threw their bodies across the floor. Moore walked slowly among them as if in a trance, pausing to rub a back or whisper a prayer.

Above all, what women seem to want from Moore is to be seen. Her work is mostly about drying tears and praying through daily suffering and struggle. In the public imagination, evangelicalism has become synonymous with political activism. But inside the evangelical world, many people are looking for something simpler: A community. A prayer. Hope.

Many of these same women have been put off by Moore’s political turn, which was not in evidence onstage that night. Even those who might disdain Trump see her outspokenness as divisive and inappropriate for a Bible teacher. “I don’t think this is the avenue for political discussions,” said Shelly, 56. “I think it should stay focused on God.”

Moore believes she is focused on God. The target of her scorn is an evangelical culture that downplays the voices and experiences of women. Her objective is not to evict Trump from the White House, but to clear the cultural rot in the house of God.

Moore has not become a liberal, or even a feminist. She’s trying to help protect the movement she has always loved but that hasn’t always loved her back—at least, not in the fullness of who she is. This mission has cost her, personally and professionally, but she told me her only regret is that she’d let others dictate what her place in the community should be: “What I feel a little sorry for, looking back over my shoulder, is how often I apologized for being there.” She told me to note that she had a smile on her face. It was what she said during the most painful moments in our conversations.

Social Justice, Critical Theory, and Christianity: Are They Compatible? | Neil Shenvi | CFC

Neil Shenvi gives a lecture on Social Justice, Critical Theory, and Christianity: Are They Compatible? at the Center for Faith and Culture. Dr. Neil Shenvi has a Ph.D. in Theoretical Chemistry from UC-Berkeley and an A.B. in Chemistry from Princeton. He homeschools his four children through Classical Conversations and can be found on Twitter at @NeilShenvi.

Let’s talk about how Trump is playing Kamala Harris like a video game….

Transcript

Well howdy there internet people it’s bo again so today we’re going to talk about how president donald j trump is playing and what his campaign against her says about him more importantly what it says that he knows about himself we’re going to do this because i made a joke in a recent video kind of an offhand statement the president said that men were bothered by the idea of a woman being nominated for vice president i said that wasn’t true i said that no men were bothered by that but maybe some little boys were i had women push back on that statement and say no that’s not true there are men who are bothered by it now to be honest had it been men saying that i would have written it off and just believed it was them trying to justify their own behavior but the observation was there ever since then i’ve been trying to figure out why that might be i found my answer in a 2015 study about video games specifically halo 3 was the one they used and they were trying to determine why women were subjected why women players were subjected to hostility they viewed it through the lens of evolutionary psychology and what they concluded was that female initiated disruption of a male hierarchy incites hostile behavior from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status i mean that’s funny in and of itself but there’s more to the study not just not just it determined that men who were poor performing that were low-skilled that they reacted this way to women it also determined that they were more submissive to players who were men look at trump’s interactions on the world stage look at the way he reacts to other world leaders this is why putin and people like putin can basically pull him around by his ear and then if you look at the way he reacts to world leaders who are women even if they’re not traditional world leaders look at the way he reacted to greta it demonstrates that this is true i’d like to take this moment to stop and point out that higher skilled higher performing men didn’t do this they reacted more positively but see there’s there’s one other piece to this politics isn’t a video game especially when you take it to the international stage it’s not like he can look at a screen and know that he’s poor performing know that he’s low skilled there’s nothing objective telling him this you know it’s not like domestic politics where he has poll numbers or something that he can go off of on the international stage this behavior has to be rooted in in his own personal acknowledgement that he is low performing that he’s low skilled there’s nothing telling him he has to know deep down under the facade under the image that he tries to put forth of being a tough guy deep down he behaves this way because he knows he’s a failure anyway it’s just a thought y’all have a

Former Secret Service Agent Shows You How to Get The Truth Out of Anyone | Evy Poumpouras

44:03
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to listening to the language that people
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way I this I went here I that III what
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you’ll tend to see in verbal language is
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love you can’t wait to see you okay I
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the chair the person I would be
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sit in this chair where are they looking
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is their clock are they distracted by
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something what does it feel like so talk
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to people not the way you want to be
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spoken to but the way they want to be
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spoken to a way that resonates with
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are mmm
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God that was fire that was amazing
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gosh my superpower I feel a lot you fail
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a lot yeah
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failure is my superpower the more I fail
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failure is my superpower I love that and
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everything that you’re doing
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write a book about me I wanted to write
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it was so vulnerable and there’s so many
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The Real Reason Biden Is Ahead of Trump? He’s a Man

It’s a lot easier to run a cautious, inoffensive campaign when you’re not up against a culture of misogyny.

A narrative has formed around the presidential race: Donald Trump is losing because he’s botched the current crisis. Americans are desperate for competence and compassion. He’s offered narcissism and division — and he’s paying the political price.

For progressives, it’s a satisfying story line, in which Americans finally see Mr. Trump for the inept charlatan he truly is. But it’s at best half-true. The administration’s mismanagement of the coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter protests only partially explain why the president is trailing badly in the polls. There’s another, more disquieting, explanation: He is running against a man.

The evidence that Mr. Trump’s electoral woes stem as much from the gender of his opponent as from his own failures begins with his net approval rating: the percent of Americans who view him favorably minus the percent who view him unfavorably. Right now, that figure stands at -15 points. That makes Mr. Trump less popular than he was this spring. But he’s still more popular than he was throughout the 2016 campaign. Yet he won.

What has changed radically over the past four years isn’t Americans’ perception of Mr. Trump. It’s their perception of his opponent. According to Real Clear Politics’s polling average, Joe Biden’s net approval rating is about -1 point. At this point in the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton’s net approval rating was -17 points. For much of the 2016 general election, Mr. Trump faced a Democratic nominee who was also deeply unpopular. Today, he enjoys no such luck.

Why was Mrs. Clinton so much more unpopular than Mr. Biden is now? There’s good reason to believe that gender plays a key role. For starters, Mrs. Clinton wasn’t just far less popular than Mr. Biden. She was far less popular than every male Democratic nominee since at least 1992. Neither Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry nor Barack Obama faced overwhelming public disapproval throughout their general election campaigns. Hillary Clinton did.

A major driver of the public’s extreme dislike of Mrs. Clinton was its perception of her as duplicitous. In a poll taken just days before the 2016 election, Americans deemed her even less truthful than Mr. Trump. By contrast, in a Pew Research Center poll late last month, Americans rated Mr. Biden as more honest than Mr. Trump by 12 points.

According to fact checkers, these public perceptions are wildly incorrect. PolitiFact, a project of the nonprofit Poynter Institute, rates the veracity of politicians’ assertions. According to its calculations, which are based on hundreds of individual statementsMrs. Clinton isn’t only far more honest than Mr. Trump. She’s also more honest than Mr. Biden.

Why don’t voters see it that way? Research on how gender shapes political perception suggests an answer. For a 2010 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, two Yale researchers, Tyler Okimoto and Victoria Brescoll, asked participants their opinions of two fictional candidates, one male and one female, who were described as possessing “a strong will to power.” Attributing ambition to the male candidate didn’t hurt his appeal. But upon learning that the female candidate was ambitious, many participants responded with “feelings of moral outrage.” This “moral outrage” helps explain why Americans believed Mrs. Clinton was so much more dishonest than she actually was.

Critics might counter that Politifact’s data notwithstanding, what provoked the public’s opprobrium was not Mrs. Clinton’s gender but the scandals that surrounded her long political career. As a former first lady, she was asked to answer for her husband’s indiscretions in a way other female candidates might not have been. She also spent the 2016 campaign on the defensive for having used a private email server for her official business as secretary of state — a controversy that James Comey reignited by revealing new evidence in the F.B.I.’s investigation just days before the election. For all these reasons, observers might claim that Mrs. Clinton is a special case.

But the same “moral outrage” that plagued her four years ago also plagued this year’s most prominent female presidential contender: Elizabeth Warren. If Mrs. Clinton is far less popular than Mr. Biden, her fellow centrist insider, Ms. Warren has proved far less popular than Bernie Sanders, her fellow progressive insurgent. The data is striking. Most polls show that a majority of Americans disapprove of the gentlewoman from Massachusetts. By contrast, most Americanapprove of the gentleman from Vermont, usually by double digits.

Voters also consider Mr. Sanders more honest than Ms. Warren, even though, according to PolitiFact, he’s not. Mr. Trump’s decision to assign both Mrs. Clinton (“crooked”) and Ms. Warren (“Pocahontas”) nicknames that connote deceit reflects his own misogyny. But it also reflects his instinctive understanding that when you call female candidates unscrupulous, the slur is more likely to stick. (In recent days, Trump has begun referring to Biden as “corrupt Joe.” For bulk of the campaign, however, he merely dubbed him “sleepy,” while labelling Sanders “crazy.”)

It’s worth remembering that the next time you hear Mr. Biden praised for running a cautious, inoffensive and largely mistake-free campaign. Given Mr. Trump’s epic blunders, inoffensiveness may be enough to propel the former vice president to the White House. But it’s a lot easier to be inoffensive when you’re a man.