Evangelical rebel Jen Hatmaker deserved more from Politico than a puff piece

Journalist and author Julia Duin argues that Politico’s recent piece on “evangelical” Jen Hatmaker, who has become firmly ensconced in the Religious Left, didn’t get anywhere near the same scrutiny as those on the Religious Right receive in the articles written about them. “Why didn’t the writer of this fluff maintain at least some journalistic distance from her subject?” demands Duin. “There was zero attempt (that I could discern) to get an opposing point of view and whoever edited it didn’t demand even a hint of objectivity from the reporter.”

In this piece over at Get Religion, Duin reveals why a large number of evangelical women feel betrayed by the woman they were led to believe shared their biblical worldview. She writes:

Up until recently, I’d never heard of Jen Hatmaker, an evangelical wunderkind who is a one-woman columnist, book-writing machine, conference speaker and all-around mom of five kids and pastor’s wife. This has been a winning combo in terms of book deals and speaking engagements for some time.

Maybe it’s because she inhabited a corner of Christianity that most of my single, childless or married-to-a-guy-who-isn’t-into-God-at-all female friends could never enter. This is not a criticism of Hatmaker, as none of us were into Beth Moore, either. These Christian superstar women inhabited a universe that us lesser beings couldn’t hope to aspire to.

Plus, I wasn’t writing about women like her. I was more after cutting-edge Christianity that sent people to India or led then to share all their possessions in a Christian community or do chain-themselves-to-the-clinic-doors activism against abortion clinics.

Hatmaker is an ordinary person who got where she is by monetizing her life experiences into an evangelical Christian paradigm. Her more recent foray into politics – linked to her shift on issues linked to sexuality and marriage – got discovered by secular media, most recently by Politico, which published the following profile:

Last fall, Jen Hatmaker, a popular evangelical author and speaker, started getting death threats. Readers mailed back her books to her home address, but not before some burned the pages or tore them into shreds. LifeWay Christian Stores, the behemoth retailer of the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled her titles off the shelves. Hatmaker was devastated. 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 and whose home renovation got its own HGTV series. But then 2016 happened, and, well, of course everything changed.

Then it tells how she came out against Donald Trump some time in 2016. This might have been a minority opinion, but she was hardly alone in it and she was not the only person taking heat for it (or even the only woman in that niche).

A lot of evangelicals were unhappy with Trump, whom they saw as crazy, but who was up against Hillary Clinton, who they saw as evil. The fact that 81 percent of evangelical Christians said they voted for Trump doesn’t mean that all of them liked doing so.

So what was the key factor in the Hatmaker story? Back to Politico:

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. “The way people spoke about us, it was as if I had never loved Jesus a day in my life,” Hatmaker recently told an audience in Dallas. The gilded auditorium was quiet, its 2,300 seats filled to capacity with nearly all women. “And I was just an ally,” she said. “Think about how our gay brothers and sisters feel.”

Whoa – she’s talking to a filled 2,300-seat auditorium? Hardly sounds like she took that much of a hit. Continue reading

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