Popular Christian Author Facing Death Threats After Criticizing Trump: Report
Christian author and speaker Jen Hatmaker is one of the most popular religious figures in the United States, but now she is paying a steep price for speaking out for what she believes.
LifeWay Christian Stores, the behemoth retailer of the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled her titles off the shelves after she denounced President Donald Trump. Hatmaker was devastated. But that’s not all. The popular evangelical author started getting death threats, Politico reports.
Up until that point, she had been a wildly influential and welcome presence in the evangelical world, a Christian author whose writings made the New York Times best-seller list. But when she decided to speak up against Trump, well, everything changed.
As told by Politico:
During the campaign, as other white evangelicals coalesced around the Republican nominee, Hatmaker effectively joined the coterie of “Never Trump” evangelicals, telling her more than half a million Facebook followers that Donald Trump made her “sad and horrified and despondent.”
After the “Access Hollywood” tape leaked and prominent evangelical men came to Trump’s defense, she tweeted: “We will not forget. Nor will we forget the Christian leaders that betrayed their sisters in Christ for power.” Then, in an interview with Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt, she made what was a stunning admission for her evangelical community: She said she supported same-sex relationships.
That’s when the full weight of conservative Christian outrage crashed down on Hatmaker. There were soon angry commenters and finger-wagging bloggers. She says people in her little town of Buda, Texas, just south of Austin, pulled her children aside and said terrible things about her and her husband. She was afraid to be in public, and she wasn’t sleeping or eating well.
There was more. Two weeks after her bombshell interview, Trump won. And Hatmaker’s community—at least 80 percent of the white evangelicals in America—had helped put him in office. “What’s been really painful and disorienting for me is to realize how far away from my evangelical family I am,” she told me in an interview before her Dallas event. “I thought we had a lot more common ground.” The fissures within Christianity became trenches, with men and women like Hatmaker, as well as Christians of color, left on the losing side. Hatmaker’s career was on the line, but so was her very sense of self, and the essence of her life and work—most importantly, her faith.
“This year I became painfully aware of the machine, the Christian Machine,” she wrote in April on her blog. It was Good Friday, a somber day for Christians to observe the crucifixion of Jesus. Hatmaker wrote that she understood now the machine’s “systems and alliances and coded language and brand protection,” not as the insider she had long been, but “from the outside where I was no longer welcome.” During the election season, she added, the “Christian Machine malfunctioned.” It laid bare the civil war within her Christian community.
Indeed, the white conservative Christian electorate—and its overlap with the old-guard religious right—has supported a thrice-married adulterer who bragged about sexual assault. It has excused leadership blunders and nativism and white supremacy. It has rallied around Senate candidate Roy Moore in the face of multiple allegations of sexual abuse of minors. It has also brought low many of those evangelicals who dared to question its judgment.
Hatmaker, meanwhile, has not backed down. In May, she posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a black tank top with the words, “I ain’t sorry.” She has kept talking to her followers, many of them white and generally conservative Christian women, about supporting gun control, Black Lives Matter and refugees. At a time when the white evangelical share of the American electorate is on the decline, Hatmaker is out with a best-selling book, a top-rated podcast and a speaking tour that’s selling out.
Hatmaker also recently tweeted that the evangelical subculture “tends to elevate a very homogeneous voice: white, mostly male, women who don’t upset the power differential we’ve come to count on (white, conservative, straight, Republican).” Going against the grain, she wrote, threatens “commercial success.” But Hatmaker notes that a mentor recently advised her to just lead whatever followers she had. “I really took that advice,” she told me. “And I have felt real free since.”
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