#55: The Politics of Chosen-ness and Trump on Religious Liberty

For February, we talk to Michael Coogan about his book God’s Favorites: Judaism, Christianity, and the Myth of Divine Chosenness. Then Dan and Tim about the new rules announced by the Trump Administration last month regarding religious liberty. And in One Last Thing, Dan has been staying in to watch TV, and Tim has been going out to the movies.

Some of the things we talked about in this episode:

Dan mentioned the book I Still Believe and the classic article “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians.”

Dr. Coogan alluded to those evangelicals who believe Trump’s election was the result of divine intervention. Here is the show we did in March 2019 on the movie The Trump Prophecy.

You can read about the event at which Trump announced his new religious liberty rules (and see video of some of it) here.

This is the famous (or infamous, depending on you point of view) Christianity Today editorial that Tim referenced.

Dan’s OLT was The Mandalorian.

Tim’s OLT was Knives Out. He also mentioned this conversation about the movie at the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast.


0:00-1:28: Introduction

1:32-21:43: Coogan interview

21:48-32:21: Religious liberty conversation

32:26-36:02: Dan’s OLT

36:03-39:24: Tim’s OLT

39:25-40:30: Credits

40:36-40:52: Outtake

#54: Uighur Erasure in China

This month, we get our good friend Courtney back in front of the microphone to discuss the “cultural genocide” occurring in Xinjiang province in northwest China. And in our year-reviewing One Last Thing, we’re both thinking about Netflix original series as ways to encapsulate 2019.

There isn’t a lot of stray talk in this episode, but you can learn more about the oppression of the Uighurs here, here, here, and here. And here is the UN definition of genocide.

Dan’s OLT was about season 3 of Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Tim’s OLT was about Netflix’s Russian Doll.

0:00-1:00: Introduction

1:05-38:44: Uighur conversation

38:48-40:41: Dan’s OLT

40:42-43:41: Tim’s OLT

43:42-44:48: Credits

44:53-44:57: Outtake

#53: The Meaning of Dec. 25 and Anti-Semitic Violence

For the holidays, we’re digging into why Christmas is celebrated on December 25–and no, it’s not just because of Saturnalia. And then we chat about the sharp rise in anti-Semitic violence the past few years and whether or not there’s any reason for hope. And in One Last Thing, Dan read another audiobook this month and Tim has been flipping through the scholarly journals.

Some of the things we talked about this month:

Our guest, Dr. McGowan, brought up mariology.

Here are discussions of the planned attack on the synagogue in Pueblo, CO and the successful one in Poway, CA. And here is a description of the vandalism in an Omaha, NE cemetery.

Dan mentioned a verse in the Gospel of John that refers to Jews as the children of the devil. (And here is why it shouldn’t be taken out of context.)

Dan’s OLT was about Mythos: The Grek Myths Retold, by Stephen Fry.

Tim’s OLT was about “Kids These Days: Why the Youth of Today Seem Lacking,” by John Protzko and Jonathan W. Schooler.

0:00-0:58: Introduction

1:02-27:06: McGowan interview

27:10-50:40: Anti-Semitic violence discussion

50:45-53:49: Dan’s OLT

53:50-56:49: Tim’s OLT

56:50-57:49: Credits

#52: Christian Right in the States and Faith in the 2020 Democratic Nomination Fight

This month, we talk to Tim’s longtime friend Kimberly Horn Conger about her work documenting the Christian Right at the state level. Then she sticks around to help us break down how the 2020 Democratic hopefuls are using faith, and whose rhetoric might be most effective. And in One Last Thing, both Dan and Tim are reflecting on bad behavior.

Some of the things we discuss in this episode:

Dr. Conger referenced several Supreme Court cases, including Obergefell v. Hodges, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Webster v. Reproductive Health Services.

She also mentioned the book The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics, by Andrew Lewis.

Dan mentioned The Culture of Disbelief, by Stephen Carter.

Dan’s One Last Thing was about How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England, by Ruth Goodman.

Tim’s One Last Thing was about the Twitter account @presvillain and the essay “On Bullshit.” (Tim also mentioned Calvinball. If you don’t know Calvin and Hobbes, drop everything and buy one of Bill Watterson’s books.)

0:00-1:41: Introduction

1:45-20:58: The Christian Right in the states

21:02-38:19: Faith in the 2020 Democratic nomination fight

38:24-41:13: Dan’s OLT

41:14-45:57: Tim’s OLT

45:58-47:01: Credits

47:05-47:24: Outtake

#51: Holy Disunity and Trump as Messiah

This month we talk to Presbyterian minister Layton Williams about her new book Holy Disunity and her thesis that authenticity is more important than unity. Then the two of us settle in to chat about the “quasi-messianic” language that’s come out of the White House recently. (Note: we knew when we recorded this episode that the events we discussed in our B-segment would have been overtaken by other scandals many times over by the time it came out, but we had no way of knowing there would be an actual impeachment inquiry underway. So enjoy this window into the more innocent time that was the middle of last month.)

Some of the things we talked about in this episode:

Here is the tweet and the video that made our second segment possible, and here is the article that inspired us to talk about it.

Dan mentioned this moment as possible evidence of Trump’s cognitive decline.

Tim’s OLT was about the New York Times1619 Project.

And Dan’s OLT was about the audio versions of Robert Caro’s biographies of Lyndon Johnson.


0:00-1:44: Introduction

1:48-22:33: Williams interview

22:38-45:44: “Trump as messiah” conversation

45:49-48:09: Tim’s OLT

48:10-51:22: Dan’s OLT

51:23-52:21: Credits

#50: Teaching the Teachers and What We’ve Learned

It’s our 50th episode! This month we talk to Christopher Murray, a DC-area high school teacher who started a program to teach his colleagues about the religious diversity they might find among their students. And then we spend a few minutes chatting about what we’ve learned in our first 50 episodes. Finally, in One Last Thing, Dan is going on vicarious coffee dates and Tim is revising the history of early 90s TV.

Some of the things we discussed in this episode:

Here is the article that inspired our talk with Chris Murray.

Tim referenced this famous experiment.

Dan’s OLT was about Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Tim’s OLT was about Zack Morris is Trash. (He especially loves this episode.)

0:00-1:18: Introduction

1:22-14:43: Murray interview

14:47-28:47: 50th episode chat

28:52-31:56: Dan’s OLT

31:57-35:09: Tim’s OLT

35:10-36:10: Credits

#49: Supreme Court Wrap-Up 2019

This month we return to our August tradition of discussing the 2018-19 Supreme Court term with friend-of-the-show Ann Duncan. And in One Last Thing, both Dan and Tim have been watching TV of a supernatural variety.


We burned through a lot of Supreme Court cases in this episode. If you want to read the decisions for yourself, the cases are American Legion v. American Humanist Association (Establishment clause), Box v. Planned Parenthood (abortion), Bucklew v. Precythe (death penalty), Madison v. Alabama (also death penalty), Gamble v. US (abortion again, kind of), and Commerce v. New York (the census).

Ann referenced this tweetstorm by the President of the United States of America and recommended the latest season of NPR’s Embedded.

Dan’s OLT was about the third season of Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Tim’s OLT was about the Amazon Prime miniseries Good Omens.

0:00-1:24: Introduction

1:28-40:36: Supreme Court discussion with Dr. Ann Duncan

40:41-43:06: Dan’s OLT

43:06-45:36: Tim’s OLT

45:36-46:40: Credits

Episode #48: Toddie Peters on Reproductive Justice

This month: with abortion restrictions making headlines across the South and Midwest, it’s a good time to talk to Rebecca Todd Peters about her new book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice. And in One Last Thing, both Dan and Tim have been watching movies about unsavory characters, but those movies were…not the same.

UC Berkeley Law School published this primer on reproductive justice. And this Vox article discusses the data Dr. Peters referenced about declining abortion rates.

Dan’s OLT was about Pink Flamingos.

Tim’s OLT was about the documentaries FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened and FYRE FRAUD.

0:00-1:26: Introduction

1:31-31:52: Peters interview

31:57-35:06: Dan’s OLT

35:07-38:37: Tim’s OLT

38:38-39:39: Credits

39:45-40:01: Outtake

#47: Israeli Democratic Erosion and the Museum of the Bible

To start off the summer, we talk this month about the erosion of democracy in Israel and Dan’s recent trip to the Museum of the Bible. NOTE: we recorded this show prior to last week’s announcement that Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for new elections in Israel.

Some of the things we discussed in this episode:

There are lots of good resources on the question of whether Israel is in a democratic backslide, including this Brookings Institute briefing paper and this Vox article.

If you don’t know The Princess Bride, here is the reference Dan was making. But then, if you’ve never seen The Princess Bride, you should really be doing that rather than listening to this show.

Material Dan read about the Museum of the Bible included both Bible Nation by Candida Moss and Joel Baden and Steven Young’s chapter in Christian Tourist Attractions, Mythmaking, and Identity Formation.

And you can read some of Dan’s thoughts about the museum, and see some of his pictures, in the newest area of our web site.

Dan’s One Last Thing was about the AMC/Netflix show The Killing.

Tim’s One Last Thing was about The Good Place: The Podcast and the Cube Rule of Food.


0:00-1:35: Introduction

1:40-23:33: Israeli democratic erosion

23:37-44:51: Museum of the Bible

44:56-48:25: Dan’s OLT

48:25-51:49: Tim’s OLT

51:49-53:01: Credits

53:03-53:28: Outtake

#46: Crisis in the UMC

On this month’s Impolite Conversation, we talk to a scholar and a bishop about the continuing crisis regarding the status of LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Church. First, Iliff School of Theology president Thomas Wolfe shares his thoughts with us. Then Karen Oliveto, the first LGBT bishop in UMC history, spares some moments to consider what the situation means for her and her flock. And in One Last Thing, Dan has been watching TV (again) and Tim has been reading News of the Gross (again).

Some of the things we talked about in this episode:

Here is the statement Dr. Wolfe released to the Iliff community.

And here is Bishop Oliveto’s memoir.

Dan’s OLT was about the Amazon show Hanna.

And Tim’s OLT was about this poor woman.

0:00-1:57: Introductions

2:01-27:41: Wolfe interview

27:46-41:17: Oliveto interview

41:21-43:45: Dan’s OLT

43:46-46:10: Tim’s OLT

46:11-47:13: Credits

47:17-47:22: Outtake