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Jon Ward On Evangelicals And Politics

Jon Ward On Evangelicals And Politics

The reporter talks about his life inside the "evangelical Christian bubble."

Jon is the chief national correspondent for Yahoo News and the host of “The Long Game” podcast. His first book was Camelot’s End: Kennedy v Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party, and his new book is Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Failed a Generation. You can also follow Jon’s writing on his substack, Border-Stalkers, and on his website,

You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app — though Spotify sadly doesn’t accept the paid feed). For two clips of our convo — on the joys of being evangelical Christian, and the sexual struggles of male evangelicals — pop over to our YouTube page.

Other topics: Jon growing up in the Jesus Movement in the '70s and '80s; speaking in tongues; the insecurity of evangelicals toward mainstream culture; Catholic hymns vs the music of evangelicals; Catholicism as anti-subjective and anti-emotional compared to evangelicalism; when the Southern Baptist Convention tolerated abortion; the evangelical and Catholic alliance after Roe v. Wade; Paul Weyrich; Reinhold Niebuhr; Frederick Buechner; structural sin; Calvinism and predestination; Saint Francis; the indifference of Jesus toward gender roles; same-sex marriage and the Mormon settlement over it; Garry Wills; James Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword; Kevin Hasson’s The Right to Be Wrong; how Christians should embrace political loss; Christianism and Trump; and the crosses wheeled out on January 6.

Heads up that the Dish is taking Holy Week off as our spring break. See you back on the pod the Friday after the Good one. Happy Easter and Passover!

For some reading material over the break, we just posted a transcript with James Alison on Christianity. Browse the Dishcast archive for another discussion you might enjoy (the first 102 episodes are free in their entirety). As always, please send your feedback and guest recs to

Here’s a listener on last week’s episode on the Tavistock gender clinic:

Not a dissent, but a word of thanks. Thank you for interviewing Hannah Barnes. I read her book after listening to your interview. I found it to be measured in its reporting — and it is really a piece of journalism in book format. Time To Think is an important book. And I’m trans.

Beyond the trans issue, the book is a case study in what happens to a well-meaning institution when it’s subjected to both incredible pressure from all sides and focusing on the wrong performance metrics. Many times while reading, I found myself muttering, “That’s crazy” or “This is bonkers” or “Why suppress all this data from patients?” The outcomes from blockers is astonishing, in that it seems to confirm the identity, rather than give space to figure it out. Along with the physical impacts of using blockers too early.

The staffing and caseload problem at GIDS is reminiscent of large software projects running behind schedule. The temptation is to throw more bodies at the problem, but the experienced people have to stop and explain what’s going on to the new people. The late project becomes even later. In software, you either reduce scope or push out the delivery date. GIDS seems like they tried to do the opposite and imploded.

Plus, they focused on the wrong metric: length of time in the waiting list. All the incentives were on clearing their caseload faster, not providing impeccable service. Absolute medical travesty. How could GIDS go from a therapy-backed process to no therapy at all is bonkers. I’m in my 40s and couldn’t imagine doing my transition without serious professional help.

The ingrained homophobia in the later GIDS process is repulsive. I found your personal story during the interview especially illuminating, where you weren’t sure who you were before you went through puberty. Pre-pubescence is a time of intense turbulence, and those kids are especially vulnerable. Nobody needs to be told “You’re trans” when it might really be “You’re gay.” I personally know a few people who spent some time figuring out who they were. Experimenting with clothes, names, and pronouns is one thing — but none of them would’ve benefited from being fast-tracked onto blockers.

Thanks again for interviewing Hannah and amplifying this important book.

So grateful for your email. Here’s another listener on the “very interesting talk with Barnes”:

I didn’t know much about the Tavistock experience and enjoyed learning from your conversation. But when it comes to some of your assertions — for example, your statements about how pervasive critical gender theory curriculums are in the lower grades of public school — I wish you’d link to resources where we readers could find confirmation. Ditto for your claim that very high suicide rates in the US among transgender kids who don’t have access to “gender-affirming care” are overstated. (Granted, Hannah’s description of the near-complete lack of evidence for high suicide rates among transgender youth in the UK goes some way toward refuting the claim that rates are high in the US.)

I listen to you and find you compelling, then I read something like this — “Ancient Judaism Recognized a Range of Genders” — and find it compelling as well. And that NYT op-ed links to a study that, as far as I can tell, is well done, and it tells a troubling story. Who to believe?

By the way, it occurred to me while listening to the episode that the FDA should regulate medical care for trans people wishing for gender-affirming care or transitioning or sex changes or whatever, just like the FDA regulates many other aspects of medicine. 

There doesn’t seem to be much data on suicide among American trans kids — only attempted suicide and suicidal ideation. As far as CQT taught in the lower grades of school, here’s a Dish dive. Dr. Erica Anderson has more on Substack this week:

Some school districts have instructed staff to hide the social transition from parents if the child requests it. This is another example of activism which may have started out with good intentions, namely creating safe places for kids, but which has gone too far. By condoning deception as a tactic, some districts operate as though teachers, not parents, are responsible for the upbringing of children. Changing names and pronouns at school is a simple step, but the gender journeys of many of today’s youth are highly complex, and parents need to be involved. Unless there is evidence of abuse at home, teachers should not engage in deception.

Here’s another listener on a different trans-themed episode:

I have just listened to your interview with Ben Appel, and I thought you might not have yet read this disturbing article about the effect of online trans culture on British teenagers. Becoming a gay or lesbian adult does not appear to be an option for effeminate boys or boyish girls at the author’s school, as they learn from social media that they may be born “in the wrong body.” Please stick your guns on protecting children from trans ideology.

I will. The epistemological homophobia in TQIA+ ideology is deep. Speaking of Ben, he noted this week:

“Laura McGinnis, a spokesperson for PFLAG [told] Newsweek that publication of [Hale’s manifesto] could increase the risk of contagion.” But remember, social contagion has nothing to do with the sharp uptick in “LGBTQIA+” identity among young people.

Any argument at hand, I guess. Another reader on the horrible tragedy this week:

I wrote to you a couple years ago, about my very girly teenage daughter identifying as trans. Nashville is a couple hours away, and I am somewhat shocked by it all. The media coverage is awful — ranging from the Fox News trans blame to the MSM acrobats over pronouns (one major outlet just using male pronouns, while another torturing itself to say the truth in a PC way).

This is what I want to know: did a mentally disturbed female inject herself with testosterone, and at what dose?

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