John Fea teaches American history at Messiah College. He is the author of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, just released in paperback with Eerdmans Publishing.

Posts By This Author

Christians Need the Liberal Arts Now More Than Ever

by John Fea 05-07-2020

From 'The Seven Liberal Arts.' Francesco Pesellino. 1422-1457 Florence, Italy. 

Are we equipped to muster the political, moral, and spiritual resources necessary to sustain our republic? 

Evangelicals, This Is How Republics Fail

by John Fea 03-10-2020

Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Liberty University commencement ceremony. May 13, 2017. Via Wikimedia Commons. 

We have failed to be good citizens. We have become complicit in the president’s nativism, racism, xenophobia, narcissism, and fearmongering.

Pence’s Speech at the Southern Baptist’s Annual Meeting Was More like a Trump Rally

by John Fea 06-21-2018

Image via Shutterstock/ lev radin

Pence’s speech turned the SBC annual meeting into a Trump rally. According to Eastern Illinois University political scientist Ryan Burge, the Vice President used the word “president” 61 times in his speech and “Trump” 12 times. He used the word “God” 9 times and “Christ” only twice.

How the American Bible Society Became Evangelical

by John Fea 06-04-2018

Image via ValeStock /

But the fact that the ABS has decided to adopt such a statement after functioning for 202 years without one does make this development noteworthy. As the author of perhaps the only scholarly history of this storied Christian organization, I can attest that the “Affirmation of Biblical Community” represents a definitive break with the vision of its founders.

The Next Generation Will Do What We Couldn't

by John Fea 11-10-2016

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

I am upset by the results of the election, and I am particularly saddened that 81 percent of white American evangelicals got into bed with a monster on Nov. 8. But I am also encouraged and have not lost hope.

Here’s why:

Around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, my 15-year-old daughter, frustrated by all she was seeing on the television, stormed out of the room and announced: “Dad, I am going to bed. I am embarrassed for my country.”

Where Rubio Went Wrong on Faith and Politics

by John Fea 01-29-2016
Marco Rubio in Iowa.

Marco Rubio in Iowa. Rich Koele /

Rubio is doing his best to sound like an evangelical Christian. Last night he spoke about his faith more than he has done in all the other GOP debates combined. From what I have read, Rubio attends both a Catholic church and an evangelical megachurch. His spiritual commitment seems sincere. I have no doubt that he is a man of faith. But the way he used his religion last night made the Christian gospel subservient to his political ambitions.

The Echoes of Abraham Lincoln in President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Speech

by John Fea 02-11-2015
Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Shutterstock / RNS

Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque / Everett Historical / Shutterstock / RNS

President Obama’s political opponents are outraged over his remarks at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast comparing Islamic violence to historic Christian violence.​ Jim Gilmore, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, called the remarks “the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime.”

But anyone who is angry with Obama’s speech must also express the same wrath toward one of the greatest presidential speeches in American history, Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, delivered 150 years ago next month.

Obama used his annual remarks at the National Prayer breakfast to condemn radical Islam (though he didn’t use the term). In the process, he made some more general comments about how religion has been used — both today and in the past — to promote violence.

What has rankled many conservatives is Obama’s statement that “during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” He then brought his historical analogy closer to home:

“In our home country, slavery, and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

10 Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Read Pope Francis

by John Fea 11-27-2013

Pope Francis. JeffyBruno / Flickr

Pope Francis on Tuesday released his first apostolic exhortation since his election in March. The message, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), challenges Catholics — both laity and clergy — to pay more attention to evangelizing the world.

While most American evangelicals do not usually read papal pronouncements, it would be a shame if we did not familiarize ourselves with Francis’ newest document, for there is much in it that evangelicals could embrace:

Those Who Will Not Learn from History

by John Fea 05-01-2010
How Texas decides what your children will study about our past

Like it or not, the far-Right members of the Texas State Board of Education may have already decided what your children will learn about American history.

The Board is in the midst of a major revision to the state’s social studies standards. It is well known that textbook publishers cater to their largest clients. California, the nation’s largest textbook market, is bankrupt; Texas is the second largest. This means that, when it comes to teaching American history, as Texas goes, so goes the nation.
Two of the consultants hired last year by the conservative members of the Texas Board are David Barton and Peter Marshall. Both run ministries that promote the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, and use the past for the purpose of promoting Republican politics. Neither man is a trained historian, but their books are wildly popular among the Christian Right.
In January and March, the Board made decisions about who was in and who was out of the new curriculum. Since far-Right conservatives currently hold a majority of seats, they managed to push through most of the revisions they wanted.
For example, in state social studies standards on how Americans have worked to expand their economic opportunities and political rights, the Board deleted those Americans’ “racial, ethnic, gender, and religious groups” as a factor to consider—even though this standard was part of a larger category focused on “how people from various groups contribute to our national identity.”