No, Rush Limbaugh Did Not Hijack Your Parents’ Christianity

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Mark_Smith's picture

"Except it hadn’t. At least not if hijacking entails taking unwilling victims by force. The truth is, many conservative Christians embraced Rush Limbaugh because they had already embraced a faith that championed an us-vs.-them militancy, the denigration of liberals and feminists, the sexual objectification of women, an appreciation for coarse language and even violence when directed at the right targets, and a thinly veiled misogyny that kept women in their (God-given) place. "

I listened to Rush many days of the week from 1990 to 2021 and I never thought this is what Rush Limbaugh was about. It is what the media said he was about, but not him.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I listened to Rush regularly from the late 90's for about a decade. Slowly less and less and then never.

At first it was refreshing and comforting to hear a conservative voice on the radio.

Gradually, I noticed a pattern. Increasingly, if he got a topic/current event I was already well informed about, it was evident he was caricaturing, straw-manning, exaggerating, distorting, and just dumbing the issue. Add to that, increasing sexual innuendo, and crude language in general.

I eventually came to see him as contributing in a major way to the lowering of the quality of public discourse on the right.

I can't speak to the linked article. Not interested enough to read it. But there was nothing Christian about Rush's infotainment biz and I'm not among those who think he did, on balance, a great deal of good for conservatism or for the country.

But yeah, there's a whole lot of exaggerated criticism and nastiness toward Rush on the left. You don't have to agree with left to disagree with many on the right about Rush's contribution to society.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

JD Miller's picture

I listened to Rush many days of the week from 1990 to 2021 and I never thought this is what Rush Limbaugh was about. It is what the media said he was about, but not him.

He was on 3 hrs a day 5 days a week, so occasionally I would hear him say something that would make me cringe- especially in the earlier days.  Up until 2003 I was farming, so I spent a lot of time in the tractor or combine with the radio on and I listened to Rush during that time. 

During that time, I was disappointed anytime spiritual matters would come up, because he did not want to talk about God.  I knew his brother was a devout Christian, and I remember one time when a caller brought up Christ, Rush said that people close to him had already talked to him about that and then he quickly changed the subject.

I continued to pray for him over the years and in the past several years I noticed that he was much more patient and kind with callers and had fewer and fewer crude moments.  I was hoping that God had been working in his life.  He also started to talk about God in a positive way instead of changing the subject.  I don't listen to him as much now as I did when I was farming, but this fall, I was driving home from the job site as Rush was on.  A caller asked him about the inevitable end to his life.  He said he was okay with it because he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It sounds like he had quick kicking against the pricks.  

He spoke of having talent on loan from God.  For years that is all Rush would say about God, but thankfully that changed.  Over the past week I have been thinking about how a believer will be able to give some return on such a loan as we cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus.  I hope this helps us all reflect on how we can best use our talents for Christ.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

One wonders if she ever even heard Rush. Her article is not worth taking seriously. She is using Rush to push an agenda of a different sort.

I have listened to Rush on a regular basis since 1992. I never listened to all three hours, unless I was driving or something. I always figured that anything truly important would make the lead in the opening monologue, or at least be teased there.

Rush's contributions both to conservatism, as well as to the development of media, cannot be overstated. They are monumental. Anyone who fails to acknowledge those things is simply uninformed. 

Rush could be incredibly entertaining, and he could be truly inspiring. He also had a truly God-given talent for "following the (political) football." This is a gift that few possess, and it should not be overlooked.

Those things being said, Rush was not normally giving you "seminary-level stuff," if you will. I listened to other types of programs to meet that need. But without Rush, some of those speakers would never have found the voice they had. Think of that!

I thank God that Rush, apparently, became a true Christian in recent years. What a wonderful comfort and hope!!

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Like most of you, I too listened to Rush in bits and pieces for years.  If he was on when I was driving, I usually listened.  On average, I probably heard 15 to 30 minutes most days, so I missed a lot of the full three hours.  Was I  offended at times?  Yes.  Did I always agree?  No.  Did I believe he was spreading harmful information at times?  Yes.  Do I think he was right the majority of the time?  Yes.  He certainly wasn't right 99.7% of the time, as he humorously claimed, but he was right more times than not, in my opinion.  On balance, my vote has to be that he did more good than bad.  Nobody gets everything right all the time.  That's why God gave us brains--so we can listen, think, compare, and decide for ourselves.  I give Rush a lot of credit for informing and energizing conservatives.  Until he showed up, we were limited to left-leaning perspectives most of the time.  He gave voice to robust conservatism, and destroyed the Left's monopoly on pubic media.

G. N. Barkman

JD Miller's picture

There must be a lot of animosity toward Rush for someone on a Christian forum to dislike a story about a  man who had a change in his life and made a profession of faith before he died.  I thought we would all rejoice over the lost sheep being found regardless of the sheep's political views.

josh p's picture

I used to really enjoy Rush but he ultimately contributed to my transition away from neo-con politics.
I was raised by left leaning democrats so, as a young man and new believer, it was refreshing to hear something different. I listened to Rush and Hannity every day for several years. When G.W. Bush was spending money worse than any democrat and supporting other left-leaning causes, Rush and Hannity continued to sing his praises. I plugged my nose and voted for him the second time. The day after the election they both pulled back on their support and said how they, being true conservatives, were never happy with certain things about him. The whole thing was so disingenuous and I saw through it. I also found that I was often angry listening to talk radio all day.

I began to look for a more consistent conservatism and started reading and listening to the “old right.” I was really encouraged by what I read and could see where neo-conservatism was inherently inconsistent. It made sense to me why Rush struggled with certain conservative callers. After a ton more reading I settled on a libertarian conservatism. Still thankful that I learned a lot from Rush. More thankful that I learned to leave him behind.

Bert Perry's picture

...that I remember is that I believe the late Lee Atwater contributed a bit towards the coarsening of conservative politics when he was working on behalf of Reagan. Plus, as I review fundamental history, I seem to remember a number of events which indicate that our spiritual forebears were not always afraid to get their hands dirty.  

That doesn't bother me that much--sometimes I think we make too much about the superficial politeness of matters, and nowhere near enough fuss about the messy reality.   I remember a lot of very polite talking about the Soviet Union back when I was a young pup, and it drove me nuts because--apparently unlike most of the media types and Democrats--I'd actually read Solzhenitsyn and visited East Berlin.  

And in that light, Rush's openness to speak about the impolite was a God-send. Sometimes being polite serves only to hide the hideous truth.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Shaffer's picture

I read the article and felt it to be surfacy and through the eyes of a Christian feminist with a misogynist Maslow’s hammer against the Christian Right for so deeply embracing Rush. She knows something is wrong but applies a shallow diagnosis to the problem. 

Rush, like all humans, was a complicated individual. I echo much of what has been written about Rush on this thread so far-the good, the bad, the ugly. His brilliance, His commitment to excellence in broadcasting, How he was a public game-changer for conservatives, helping them poke holes in the bankrupt arguments of contemporary liberals (progressives) with their unwavering faith in Big government and its bureaucracy to better the lives of Americans. What I also find fascinating was that sometime in the last decade, he became a Christian and became more public about his personal relationship with Jesus. Although, I never heard anything about him as part of a local church after he became a Christian (Does anyone know?)  While he might have become more patient with callers, which one may attribute to the fruit of the spirit, his demeanor towards the opposition (liberal democrats) became darker, and even more uncharitable, and anti-Christian with the slanderous caricatures, logical fallacies, and misrepresentations of political opponents.   When it came to politics, Rush Limbaugh had more influence in discipling conservative churches than the Scriptures, Pastors and Christian leaders. In fact, I would even venture to say that a large number of Christian pastors and leaders were also discipled by Rush when it came to political theology.  This is a huge blind spot for the conservative church because their political theology is much more shaped by the enlightenment philosophy that produced rugged individualism which Rush preached rather than a political theology that is rooted in the doctrine of Imago Dei---Whether through the Reformed Tradition that emphasizes Sphere Sovereignty, Anti-thesis, and common grace, or the Catholic Social Teaching tradition, which emphasizes Natural Law, subsidiarity (social problems are best solved at the closest proximity of the problem), and the common good. Both of these Christian traditions were developed in response to the threat of the state obtaining too much power (Socialism).  

In contrast, Rush’s rugged individualism and self-reliance is not rooted in the doctrine of Imago Dei of the Scriptures but rather in enlightenment philosophy where the autonomy of the individual, self-interest, freedom, and self-reliance is elevated to heroic status as the ultimate good. By the way, I was a former ditto-head back in the early 1990s.  During the early 1990’s when he was more positive about winning the culture war, I distinctly remember him pushing back against a listener for their belief that the basic human condition was bad rather than good. He minimized human nature’s inclination towards sin/evil but rather made it seem like a neutral blank slate. People could will themselves with enough self-reliance into doing the right thing to achieve excellence. That if you work hard enough and do your best with rational self-interest, you will be successful. And those who keep on failing stem from making wrong choices, failing to learn from failure, depending on the government for help, and not being able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. He would then caricature the liberal democrats as the ones that are more likely to do evil, while the conservative republicans had the moral high ground because of their unfailing belief in rugged individualism and self-reliance---which were virtues that the liberal democrats despised. Thus, morality was much more inextricably linked to one’s moral performance rather than humanity’s original sin nature.  I began to realize that Rush had a distorted view of Imago Dei and the sin nature that permeated it. God’s image was fully expressed in the rugged individualism and self-reliance that created excellence and made America great. However he was only half right. The image of God should be seen not merely individualistically but communally. Just as God himself exists within loving community – Father, Son, and Spirit experiencing eternal and perfect love – mankind bears God’s image in relationships of community and love.  I was attending Seminary at the time and had been recently taught to view socio-political issues through the analytical framework of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation within Scripture.

IMHO, I feel that the conservative Christians and their leaders have been spoonfed 30 years of this distorted underlying message behind his political ideology 3 hrs a day, 5 days a week. Yet one can make a strong argument that Rush’s political philosophy had more in common with Ayn Rand’s objectivism philosophy than Biblical Christianity.  On several occasions, Rush praised Ayn Rand, her novels, and her unwavering commitment to individualism, even though Rand’s brand of it went beyond just self-interest but a selfish love and a radical selfism that replaced God, where self becomes the rational authority where people view themselves as their own highest authority and whatever they most value becomes their god.