Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
out June 23, 2020
ISBN: 9781631495731

Instead of venerating a first century Palestinian who said things like "Blessed are the meek/merciful/peacemakers," American evangelicalism has adopted as its ideal the swaggering, aggressive, thrice-married John Wayne, the author argues.

At the center of the author's argument is the idea that American evangelicalism has become indelibly tainted by a machismo toxic masculinity that is harmful to women and men alike and has distorted the Gospel to fit its narrative of strongman (white) dominance. Dominance, aggression, and violence are considered something holy and God-given rather than sinful temptations to be wrestled with, allowing fertile ground for other sins to thrive, such as abuse, hubris, and corruption. The book eloquently argues this point by walking through a history of these strongmen and the way they have channeled or manipulated well-meaning believers into providing them outsized resources to enrich themselves and their friends and grab power for themselves.

It reads easily and quickly and is clearly well researched and sourced. Recommended for readers who want to get a better understanding of why the religious right rallies around its favorite issues but seems much less interested in the issues that Black churches and progressive Christians are interested in like racial justice, de-escalation of war, or alleviating poverty. Also recommended for people from evangelical backgrounds (positive or negative) who are trying to understand the differences between cultural evangelicalism and the actual teachings of Jesus Christ.

arc received from the publisher for review