“America Glorifies God More Than Africa”: Condemning two Cedarville Chapels Speakers

In this blog post, I want to analyze how Cedarville’s chapel functions to forward particularly right wing political ideologies through the transcription of political ideology into a religious and theological text. I will discuss the nature of Cedarville’s chapel service, and two particular cases, and one way that conversations were the foundation for producing a counter-discourse at Cedarville.

Cedarville Chapel Services

The majority of Cedarville’s chapel services focus on theological and faith formation messages. However, the most notable chapel services attempt to integrate the principles of the christian right to the social and political situation in America. Cedarville’s political science department hosts a Christian apologetics blog which attempts to apply a Christian civic perspective to various political issues.

Case 1: “Palestine belongs to Israel, because the Bible”

During my junior year at Cedarville, a speaker came who was a tour guide in Israel. He discussed the topic of why Israel has the rightful claim to the all land including Palestinian territory. He had everyone turn in the book of Genesis to the passage regarding the birth of Ishmael and Isaac. This story has been used by Zionists to argue that Arabs are not the historical heirs to the land, because Abraham had Ishmael with a woman other than his wife, Hagar. According to their tradition, Jewish people descended from Isaac and Arabic people descended from Ishmael.

Case 2: “America Glorifies God More Than Africa”

Wayne Grudem is a renowned evangelical theologian. He wrote a systematic theology which commentated the Bible from a evangelical perspective, and his books are incredibly popular among evangelical leaders and church leaders. When he spoke to us at Cedarville, he didn’t discuss his systematic theology. Instead he came to peddle racism and capitalism. First, he attempted to argue from a single verse “thou shall not steal” that God was a capitalist. His argument required a number of unsupported links, 11 to be precise, to get from that commandment to God is a capitalist.

Conclusion

In both of these cases we can see how conversations scale up and down within the organization. Cedarville disseminates messages to students and faculty, which inform the discursive situation of the university in ways that are not immediately intelligible to every individual. The mixing of the conservative right and evangelical Christianity is alienating and nonsensical, because Christianity preceded capitalism, and in theory would outlive it. The use of religion as a political ideology is concerning on a number of levels, but one of the most personal occurred to myself a couple months ago.

Written by Aaron Alford, M.A. in Communication

Aaron Alford attended Cedarville University for four years, and coached their debate team for a year. During his time there, he sought to provide an inclusive and progressive perspective to a campus bereft of open and honest discourse.

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Aaron J. Alford

Aaron J. Alford

Media critique and memes. Writing about rhetoric and society. MA in Communication They/He