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Episode 495: The False Gospel of Democracy with Robert Tracy McKenzie

Should churches stop live-streaming their services and return to in-person worship? A recent editorial by Tish Harrison Warren has gotten a lot of negative reactions from chronically ill and disabled people who value online worship. What does the debate say about our theology of the church? ABC has suspended Whoopi Goldberg for her comments about race and the Holocaust. Is Judaism a race, a religion, an ethnicity, or something else?

Some Christians are praising Stephen Colbert for talking about how his faith informs his comedy on his talk show, while others are criticizing him for not explicitly sharing the gospel. Who’s right? And David Brooks’ recent NY Times article about the evangelical leaders trying to save their movement makes the Holy Post crew ask—When do we try to fix a ministry and when do we leave it? Then, Skye talks to history professor Robert Tracy McKenzie about his new book “We the Fallen People” about what the Founders really believed about democracy and the virtue of the American people. He explains how Americans lost the Founders’ belief in human depravity and exchanged it for a false gospel that affirms the inherent goodness of people and democracy, and how that explains the challenges we are now experiencing in our politics.

News Segment:

0:00 - Intro

4:29 - Should churches stop live-streaming services?

Skye’s video, “Why You’re Sick of Church” -

16:52 - Whoopi Goldberg’s comments on race and the Holocaust

26:01 - Stephen Colbert on faith and comedy

36:47 - Institutions - when to fix and when to leave

Interview with Robert Tracy McKenzie:

“We the Fallen People: The Founders and the Future of American Democracy” -

Patreon Bonus Interview -

56:04 - Interview Start

57:57 - “Democratic gospel” definition

1:02:02 - Founders’ beliefs about democracy and human nature

1:12:46 - “The Great Reversal”

1:20:21 - Jackson and unchecked democracy

1:23:22 - Christianity and partisanship

1:26:03 - Imperial presidency concerns

1:30:08 - End

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Feb 18, 2022

Perhaps a good compromise on News of the Butt would be to move it to the back end of the podcast...


Julie Crawford
Julie Crawford
Feb 14, 2022

I remember listening to an audio version of David McCullough’s 1776 years ago, which disabused me of the notion of American exceptionalism among the revolutionaries. Like any cross-section of humanity, George Washington dealt with more than his fair share of deplorables (to use a popular term) among the ranks. Poor guy!


Jesse Dagel
Jesse Dagel
Feb 12, 2022

The conversation around the self-protective nature of church institutions was very good. Made me think that you guys should interview Wayne Jacobsen one of these days. His recent book Finding Church is a good one, and very much helps us to open our eyes to the Church that is hidden in plain sight that we so easily miss.


Interesting that Woopie gets all over the news with her take on racism. Amnesty International released a 270-page report on how Israel is an apartheid state and the NYT hasn't mentioned it yet. They are the third human rights watchdog to declare Isreal apartheid.


I went back to find the Colbert / Lipa reverse interview. Colbert KILLED that. Once upon a time, Bruce Cockburn was asked about his faith. "Evangelicals" of what passed as hard-right, the 80s version, came up in the conversation and he said, "Yeah, I'm a Christian, but I'm not one of those." Whatever one thinks of that comment in its context, when I saw Colbert's answer, I wanted to mis-quote..

"Yeah, I'm a Christian, and I may not be a Catholic, but I AM one of those." (like Colbert)

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