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Interview With Karen Brooks Hopkins; Interview With Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA); Interview with "BAM. And Then It Hit Me" Author Karen Brooks Hopkins; Interview with "Jesus and John Wayne" Author Kristin Kobes Du Mez. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 05, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): We basically have a situation where we will have government-mandated pregnancies.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): California's Jackie Speier, the first member of Congress to share her experience with abortion on the House floor, tells me
an American "Handmaid's Tale" is in store.
Then: The Brooklyn Academy of Music is America's oldest performing arts center. President emerita Karen Brooks Hopkins comes to the studio to talk
about transforming global culture in "BAM... and Then It Hit Me."
KRISTIN KOBES DU MEZ, AUTHOR, "JESUS AND JOHN WAYNE": Various factors in the 20th century led to the emergence of this embrace of a militant
AMANPOUR: Historian Kristin Du Mez tells Michel Martin how some white evangelicals corrupted their faith and fractured the country.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, more women may die, that blunt warning from the director of the CDC, as America grapples with the fallout from the
leaked Supreme Court draft opinion.
The bombshell document has already energized the left and the right ahead of this fall's midterm elections.
But, for my first guest tonight, this isn't merely a hypothetical issue with political consequences. For California Representative Jackie Speier,
abortion is a lived experience. And, in 2011, she became the first member of Congress to share her story on the House floor. The impromptu moment
happened after a male colleague likened the work of Planned Parenthood to child abuse.
Here's how she responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPEIER: A procedure at 17 weeks pregnant with a child that had moved from the vagina into the cervix. And that procedure that you just talked about
was a procedure that I endured.
I lost a baby. But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done
cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Congresswoman Speier has become a champion of women's reproductive rights. She's joining me now from California.
Welcome back to our program.
It is dramatic to have heard you say that, but I can only imagine what it took to for you to tell that most intimate of stories in such a public
SPEIER: Well, Christiane, it's true. I had no intention of really talking about my personal abortion.
But when I heard my colleagues talk about sawing off limbs, and I'm thinking, I have endured this procedure, that's not what happens, I was
compelled to speak out about it. When I was finished, I was trembling. I had tears in my eyes.
I walked to the back of the chamber, and that the late Congresswoman John Lewis stopped me and said how powerful the speech was, and he had tears in
his eyes. And then he told me about his aunt, who was staying with them. And he was a young boy at the time. And she walked down the stairs in a
blood-stained nightgown and never came back.
And that has stayed with me all these years.
AMANPOUR: So what you're saying, Congresswoman, is that she somehow had a self-induced procedure that ended up killing her?
SPEIER: That's correct.
AMANPOUR: So that goes to the heart of the issue, then, because -- and I will get back to your personal story in a moment and the reasons for why
women in America say they have abortions.
But, clearly, this is going to affect a lot of people. One of the former heads of Planned Parenthood said, abortion is not going to stop, but many
more women are going to die, because it will no longer be safe.
Talk to us a little bit about that.
SPEIER: Well, I think that what she's referring to is the fact that women will try and provide some level of self-care.
Now, we do have today what we didn't have back then. And that is medication abortion. So it's a pill you can take. But we do know, in countries like
Argentina that actually prohibited abortions, very recently, they passed a law to allow for abortions, because they had thousands of hospitalizations
of women. And they had over 65 that had died.
So we know that that is one of the risks associated by making abortion illegal.
AMANPOUR: Congresswoman, many people say, if this happens, it will simply divide America into those states that allow it and those that don't, like
right down the middle. It's almost an equal number of states are predicted to make these bans.
What is happening right now? Do you think women will be able to seek necessary medical care if they need it? Or are even more laws about to go
SPEIER: Well, first of all, abortion is still legal in this country right now. The draft opinion is not the final opinion. So we don't know if it's
going to change or not.
Secondly, there will be some 18 to 20 states that -- or 25 states -- that will continue to allow for abortions. Already in California, there are
local jurisdictions that are funding Planned Parenthood additional funds so that they can provide care to women coming from out of state.
So there will be a network of resources available to women to access care that they need. It's so important to point out that one in four women,
before the age of 45, will have had an abortion in this country. And 59 percent of the women who seek abortions are already mothers.
I was a mother. It is not, as it is portrayed by some of my colleagues on the other side, as some cavalier way of contraception. And our big fear is
that they're not stopping there. Their intention is to start to restrict contraception.
There are some members of the Supreme Court who I have been told even see contraception as a form of abortifacient. So they have plans to take this
much farther. And we're talking about personal liberties that are being taken away from women. It's so fundamental to one's personal autonomy.
And that's why it has caused so much consternation for all of us.
AMANPOUR: And you gave us those statistics. One in four American women will have an abortion by the age of 45; 59 percent, you said -- that includes
you -- were already mothers.
And 92 percent -- and I think this is critical that does get lost in the debate -- 92 percent of abortions happen in the first 13 weeks. That is
practically the first trimester. And yet the legend on the other side -- and we have had these proponents on our program, of course, to seek their
views as well -- talk about abortion on demand, late, nine months, even infanticide, and that -- raising a very dystopian present that doesn't seem
to be actually supported by the actual facts.
SPEIER: Well, that's absolutely true.
Now, there was some covenant made by Republicans and evangelical Christians in this country. And this is kind of the payment for that covenant. And
getting these particular justices on the Supreme Court through the Federalist Society, the litmus test was, are you going to overturn Roe?
Now, mind you, these are the same justices who were recently confirmed who, when questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee and were asked about what
their opinions were about Roe, they said, well, Roe is precedent and we allow and we support precedent being retained.
This becomes so critical because so many other cases have been decided based on personal liberty or privacy rights, which include interracial
marriages, contraception, gay marriages, all of which could be come subject to repeal now because of the court opinion that is still in draft form.
AMANPOUR: And yet they swear up and down that it won't, that it's only this case, because it is so unique in terms of life, et cetera. But you're
right. Many, many people are afraid that this is just the beginning.
So let me ask you, what is your party doing about it? We understand that the White House, not quite sure how they can protect a woman's right to
choose, her own body. We understand that there may be some attempts in Congress and in the Senate to protect a woman's right. Do they have legs at
SPEIER: So that the House has already passed a bill that will make Roe vs. Wade a statute. It would make it the law of the land.
It's in the Senate. It is going to be taken up in the Senate on Wednesday. But, as we know, here in the United States, majority does not rule in the
Senate. You need 60 votes. And so whether or not they're going to be able to corral 60 votes, I believe, is very unlikely.
So that then makes us shift to, what can the president do by executive order? And I think he has got to embrace opportunities that will allow him
to provide the greatest protection to women and to the physicians and other medical providers that will be providing that care, so that they won't be
subject to lawsuits by those that want to prevent them from doing what they should be able to do legally.
AMANPOUR: And have the floodgates opened already? Are their attempts to restrict physicians, to potentially charge them, to restrict women moving
across state boundaries in order to seek that kind of medical care?
And it's almost like some on the right are frothing at the mouth, because they can't think of anything -- they're looking for more opportunities to
make it even more restrictive. So there's a Missouri bill that may become law that will certainly be challenged in the courts, but they're going to
prevent women from crossing state lines to seek an abortion.
And that violates the constitutional right to travel. There's going to be efforts. There's been a bill introduced by Marco Rubio in Florida that will
take away tax benefits to those companies that speak out about abortion and provide abortion care to their employees.
So it is a feeding frenzy for those who have to somehow show that they're more pro-birth, because they're not really pro-life. They're pro-birth. And
then they feel that it's all right to discard people once they're born.
AMANPOUR: So, given you make that distinct distinction in language, there, many women who have pointed out, are simply -- men are not included in this
equation, although, as we know, it does take usually a man to implicate impregnate a woman.
And there's no accountability at all in any form or fashion or inclusion of the man's role. What do you say to that? And what do they say to that?
SPEIER: What I say to that is I think you're absolutely right.
It really bothers me that the impregnator here is not part of the equation whatsoever. So I have in my mind's eye a bill in mind to require DNA once
the baby is born. And once that's determined, the impregnator would have to post a $300,000 bond to provide for the care of that child through puberty
and until they're adults.
But, again, it's an issue that we should never have to address if we are going to be cognizant of the fact that you are violating personal freedoms,
that these are personal liberties that are now basically giving the government the authority to mandate that I carry a fetus to term.
AMANPOUR: And, Congresswoman, yesterday, on this program, Republican former Governor Chris Christie said that he didn't think this issue would at all
register in -- amongst independent voters and at the midterm elections coming up.
Do you think that's the case? Obviously, they want the issues -- and he said it -- that the issues would be inflation and higher cost of living and
SPEIER: So I think he is wrong.
I think the Republicans -- and you saw it with Mitch McConnell just the other day -- they're trying to focus on the leak and not the actual
substance of the opinion. And I think they are very concerned about how they are going to be portrayed now that they have accomplished what they
wanted to accomplish.
The swing voter in the November election are assessed to be women over the age of 50. So that's my cohort. And I can assure you that women over the
age of 50 who have benefited from having Roe vs. Wade as part of their constitutional right for all these years are going to be rightly offended
by the efforts by my Republican colleagues.
So this is a real window for the Democrats to drive home what the Republicans are really all about.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you to tap into your own personal story again?
Because, again, the issue always seems to be framed, certainly by those who are not for a woman's right to choose, as you put it yourself, cavalier, as
quasi-contraception, as any time, anywhere, on demand, just another a la carte decision.
But you have spoken quite clearly, and the numbers show that many mothers, many make this decision very early, and that you wanted your child, and
many, many others who have to go through this actually may have wanted their child, but couldn't, and it was endangering yours or the child or
What would you say to those on the other side who have a deep moral aversion to this issue and will take it to the end of their political
SPEIER: You know, it's all about personal freedoms. It's all about personal liberties.
And these are the same colleagues who are offended that they have to wear a mask, that that is violating their personal freedom and personal liberties.
I would say to them, you don't want to wear a mask. I don't want you in my uterus.
And so I think that my personal experience, even when I think about it today, I get -- I get -- I'm sad. I'm sad that I was not able to bring that
baby into the world. But it's so personal, and it should be done in conjunction with one's medical support and one's family.
And for government to somehow now put its hand on the scale and become so invasive into something so very personal is really destructive. It's
inhumane. And I think that is going to be felt by the voters in November as well.
AMANPOUR: Can I end by asking you about -- you have said that you're not going to run again. You have endured a lot of trauma, the one that you're
just laying out right now, the fact that you were shot five times. You survived gunshot wounds when you went to that famous Jamestown massacre in
You were there to investigate abuses -- Jonestown, of course -- to an aide there who was killed. Your husband, a doctor, he was killed in a car crash
accident in 1994. And you have recently said that: "It's time for me to come home, time for me to be more than a weekend wife, mother, and friend."
Is there another chapter? And what will your next chapter be, Congresswoman?
SPEIER: Well, Christiane, I wish I knew.
Clearly, I'm not going to lose my voice. I feel passionately about so many issues, particularly as it relates to women's reproductive rights, violence
against women, sexual assault in the military. And I'm not going to start knitting.
SPEIER: So, I don't know what the next chapter is, but I am very committed to being engaged in the public square.
AMANPOUR: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
SPEIER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, in divisive times like these, the arts are often where people turn to find comfort, to vent their feelings and to inspire others.
One organization that's been meeting those needs since 1861 is the Brooklyn Academy of Music better known simply as BAM. It is America's oldest
performing arts center. And back in 1987, it was one of my first ever reports.
It was about one of BAM's most groundbreaking shows, "Nixon in China," the Opera."
AMANPOUR (voice-over): If Watergate was Richard Nixon's darkest hour, then China was his shining triumph. And if all the world's a stage, then this is
his biggest accolade, "Nixon in China," the opera.
AMANPOUR: Historical operas are not unusual, but it is rare to see such recent statecraft hit the stage, with most of the lyrics taken from
transcripts of the real thing.
AMANPOUR (on camera): If an opera You starring Richard Nixon sounds like it should be a skit for "Saturday Night Live," this is neither spoof nor
satire. Its creators call it a heroic opera.
AMANPOUR: And it is always a little risky digging that kind of look out of the archive, but shows like that helped cement BAM's reputation as a global
powerhouse, while at the same time transforming Brooklyn itself.
President emerita Karen Brooks Hopkins explains how that came to be in her new memoir. It's called "BAM... and Then It Hit Me."
And she is joining me here on set in London.
Welcome, Karen Brooks Hopkins, to the program.
KAREN BROOKS HOPKINS, AUTHOR, "BAM... AND THEN IT HIT ME": Thank you. Thank you. I'm so pleased to be here.
AMANPOUR: Well, just -- you could see that amazing, amazing, groundbreaking, avant-garde opera. And it really symbolized and stood for
everything that you all did there.
Cast your mind back to when that was produced and what the thinking about it was.
BROOKS HOPKINS: Well, I was there for 36 years, president for the last 16. So I saw a lot of shows.
And our way of surviving in the New York art world when I started was not to follow the path of trying to be a second-rate Lincoln Center. We didn't
have enough money to even be the second-rate. So we decided to be a first- rate BAM. And that meant finding another way artistically to reveal ourselves to our audience and to the world.
So, we took this path of avant-garde, experimental work, things that couldn't be seen anywhere else, only here, only now at BAM. "Nixon in
China," "Satyagraha," "The Death of Klinghoffer," we did a lot of risky work in every discipline, not just opera, in theater, in dance, in music.
And this was sort of in our DNA.
AMANPOUR: And one of the other ones that was so huge and I think emblematic of what of what BAM stood for was "The Mahabharata."
BROOKS HOPKINS: Amazing.
In my mind, of all of the great works we ever did -- and, believe me, I sat through thousands of shows -- this was the greatest of them all, 10 hours'
long. It was like -- it was like a religious experience. It was Peter Brook at his peak making theater. The actors were amazing. The costumes were
And even the audience was amazing, because they were in it with us on this incredible journey. And even the fund-raising was amazing and all of that.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's -- I was going to ask you, because it's not obvious.
I mean, I did go to see it. I can't remember whether there was a break in it. But it was nine or 10 hours.
BROOKS HOPKINS: Yes.
AMANPOUR: How did you convince, I don't know, the fund-raisers, the donors that, actually, they would come if you showed it?
BROOKS HOPKINS: Well, this is a good story that I talk about in the book.
What we did is we took a group of donors to France to see it at Brook's theater, the Bouffes du Nord, in Paris. Now, we watched it in French, which
was a little dicey, since not everyone spoke French, but we were prepared. We prepared them. And we watched it over the course of three nights.
And once the donors experienced the majesty, the visual beauty of this piece, the size and scope of it and the full 10 hours, it was like a badge
of honor to go through it. So they supported it. And then, of course, Peter Brook and Jean-Claude Carriere, his co-writer on the piece, talked about
how they made the work.
And when they told that story, which was very briefly, that they went to an oral historian, and "The Mahabharata" was spoken to them the way it had
been spoken to people for generations, and once they understood this story, and they transformed it into a piece of theater, it was magic.
So everyone who went through the experience, those donors in Paris, were thrilled to support it. And then, of course, we found more of them back in
AMANPOUR: And it said -- and you have said that you had -- or it's been said about you -- the fund-raising gene.
How important was that in the survival? Obviously, everything has to be paid for. But because you were putting on such risky stuff and such unknown
stuff, did you absolutely have to be able to say, well, we can deliver?
BROOKS HOPKINS: Yes, you had to be able to do that.
And many times, I was called upon to say, OK, let's go for it, even though sometimes I had no idea where we were getting the money. But I was in a
zone. And in that zone, I would ride my bike every morning, read my work, and then look in the mirror every day before I left and say, Karen, today,
you're going to raise a million dollars. And off I went to work.
And this was the way that I approached my job. And I felt like I was on a path to get this done. And when you raise money for one place for 36 years,
people know you're serious about it. You're not jumping around. You're not really doing anything else. You're doing this. And BAM was my thing.
AMANPOUR: OK, so let's talk about BAM, the thing that it became and that it still is.
You said, we didn't want to be a second-rate or a third-rate Lincoln Center. But there was also the Metropolitan Opera. There was Broadway.
There was everything just across the bridge in Manhattan. Brooklyn wasn't exactly a thriving cultural hub at that time.
Yes, how did Brooklyn sustain that and then become this amazing, cool place to live than it is right now?
BROOKS HOPKINS: No, it's sort of an amazing story, Christiane. It was like Brooklyn. We went from Manhattan wannabe to the coolest neighborhood on the planet. And I believe that this was powered by the
arts, by what we were doing at BAM, what our colleague institutions in the Brooklyn Cultural District were doing, that the kind of work we did, the
edginess of it, the risk-taking, the kind of global context -- we were a very large international presenter -- I think that this drew people.
And New Yorkers kind of like being on the edge a little bit. I always say about New York, if you want to live in the middle, it's not your place. New
York is kind of the best and worst of everything. So, that edge, I think, really attracted our audience.
So we started doing this work. More and more people came. Other cultural institutions joined us in the district. And, as they did, the tide began to
turn. Now, there were zoning things that happened. There were government things that happened. It wasn't only the arts.
But I believe that the arts, that creative, successful, exciting vibe is the thing that really gave Brooklyn its identity.
AMANPOUR: And, at the time, you had to sort of endure a little bit of -- a little bit of tension, right?
There was tension with the Brooklyn community there. It was located in what's called Fort Greene, which is historically very diverse. And at a
community meeting that you attended in the 1990s, BAM was criticized. It was referred to as a plantation.
How did you interpret that comment? How did you respond? Was there any -- did there have to be efforts to integrate communities more?
BROOKS HOPKINS: BAM is a very old institution, as you said before.
BROOKS HOPKINS: It opened its doors, first building in Brooklyn Heights, in 1861 during the American Civil War. The first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, was
in the audience for that event.
That building burned to the ground. The one where we work now opened in 1908 in Fort Greene. So BAM has been in the heart of its community for a
very long time. However, there was this feeling that we were separate. There was a feeling that we were a large institution, and we were not
And when I heard that comment, at this town meeting, I was ashamed, and decided there and then that I was going to do everything I could to turn
that around, went to the Rockefeller Foundation, got a grant, took that grant. We did focus groups, we did surveys, we talked to people, we did a
full court-press on dealing with this issue.
Will I tell you that it's 100 percent everything solved? It never is. But I think we really moved the needle. We changed the way our -- the diversity
of our staff, our board, our programs, across every aspect of the institution. And I think that made us a better place, a better anchor for
And I think our programs became more interesting, our staff became more interesting, we were more interesting, because of the diversity.
AMANPOUR: And, again, you have had such significant programs there.
Talk a little bit about "The Island" from South Africa. I think Athol Fugard was one of the authors or the author of that.
BROOKS HOPKINS: Yes.
AMANPOUR: And he was just so famous at that time writing about the anti- apartheid movement, he himself being a white playwright.
Tell me about the play and how you felt about it and what it was about.
BROOKS HOPKINS: We had a board member who was obsessed with the play and had seen it in London. We all knew about it, of course.
And these two actors, Winston Ntshona and John Kani, were just amazing. They worked together for years. They had a very powerful chemistry. And
long story short, this board member said, I -- if you bring this play to "BAM", I will help you and support it. Well, anytime anyone offered
support, I always went to Joe Melillo, the artistic director and executive producer, and said, we have a chance here to bring a really great work. And
also, to have some help with funding it.
So, he got on a plane to London. Saw it and said, we are so bringing this. And then we ran the play for several weeks. And it was incredibly powerful.
I mean, you know, it was really Mandela's story. And --
AMANPOUR: Way before he'd been released, honestly?
HOPKINS: Way before, yes. And, you know, feeling what it was like to be imprisoned on Robin Island for that length of time. The camaraderie between
the men and how they survived. And more than survived. How they thrived and showed so much courage given the situation that they were faced with
politically. This is what great art can do. This is what it does. It educates. It moves you. It transforms the experience of understanding
complex situations. And that's the kind of work we did pretty much all the time.
AMANPOUR: And you also had some, you know, pretty extraordinary off-script moments. A little bit of edginess and end game. I think that Samuel
Beckett, right, with John Turturro, you write about this rather hilarious - -
AMANPOUR: -- maybe not, accident that happened on stage.
HOPKINS: Well, you know, John is a good friend, and he is a great actor. And one -- and he is in the role and the -- he's in a wheelchair. And
somehow it collapses right on stage. So, he never breaks character. And in character, he calls for the stagehands to kind of lift him up and fix the
chair. So, he did this and the audience went completely crazy because, you know, things happen in live theater that you cannot control. They happen.
But here was a great actor who just owned his role and really created such a memorable experience for the audience. I don't know how Beckett would
have felt about it but John felt pretty good about the way that he handled it that night.
AMANPOUR: And amazing how the -- you described the audience by and then you say they went nuts. You're here in the land of great theater here in
London. The West end and so much experimental and other classic works. What do you -- where does "BAM" fit into the global artistic world? And what are
you actually, you know, doing here apart from talking about your book that you --
HOPKINS: Well, I'm here about to talk about my book.
HOPKINS: And I'm talking -- doing a book talk tomorrow night at the National Theater. Lesley Manville, the great actress will be with me. And
David Lan, the wonderful producer and former director of the "Young Vic". So, we're going to have a really -- I think, exciting talk.
And then, of course, while I'm here, what am I doing? I'm seeing a lot of theater. You know, when you're addicted to it, you know, you just can't get
enough. So, I've already seen two plays. We'll see another one tonight. And I've only been here for, like, a couple of days. So, the chance to absorb
wonderful theater is something that New York and London have in common.
AMANPOUR: They do but they have something that's slightly at odds as well. If I'm not mistaken, in America it is almost done by private donations.
Fundraising, right? Here, there's a lot more state help and in France.
AMANPOUR: many parts of Europe. What difference does that make in terms of, I guess, the arts, the inspiration, the edginess of what you can do?
HOPKINS: The thing about this is that you know, it's not an easy thing to do to raise money for the arts. Out of all philanthropy, the arts only get
five percent. So, already, you're dealing with a very difficult situation.
But the actual thing that is great about fundraising, even though the sounds a little crazy is that in order to survive as an art organization in
America you need money. And in order to get money from these private donors, you have to be the very best organization that you can be. So, in a
way, fundraising creates this dynamic relationship between the institution and its public. Because we need them to support us and they want to support
us if we're doing great work. So, I kind of feel that this buy-in kind of creates strong and sometimes better institutions because they have to be
scrappier in order to bring this kind of support.
AMANPOUR: And do you think, because there was so much, not just written about but actually happened to the arts, particularly theater during COVID,
so much setback, has the theater world totally recovered?
HOPKINS: No, I do not think the total -- the theater world has totally recovered. I think our world was shattered during COVID. But we are a
resilient bunch, and we are bouncing back. I mean, just coming here to London and seeing the energy and the theaters, and it's the same in New
York. People are thrilled to be back.
But I'm trying to take a positive view here and believe that maybe the arts will get a little more respect. Because now people see what it is like
without us. They understand what we bring in terms of building successful creative neighborhoods. They understand what we bring to students in terms
of education. They understand, you know, what we bring in terms of street life. Vitality. These things are important as cities all over the world
bounce back. So, I'm feeling good about it.
AMANPOUR: Good, Karen Brooks Hopkins, thank you so much, indeed, for being with us.
HOPKINS: Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, back to the likely demise of Roe versus Wade which is galvanizing America's evangelicals. But who are they today? And how do they
influence politics? Kristin Du Mez is a professor at Calvin University. And she's a historian of American Christianity. Her book, "Jesus and John
Wayne" takes a look at 75 years of white evangelicalism. And she tells our Michel Martin how the Christian right is undermining democracy and
fracturing the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks Christiane. Professor Du Mez, thank you so much for talking with us.
KRISTIN KOBES DU MEZ, AUTHOR "JESUS AND JOHN WAYNE": Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: It's a provocative title, "Jesus and John Wayne". Tell me about that title.
DU MEZ: So "Jesus and John Wayne" refers to the fact that conservative white evangelicals have really remade their understanding of Christianity
influenced by secular ideologies. Particularly, a view of rugged masculinity and a kind of ruthless masculinity that transforms their idea
of what it is to be a Christian man. But ultimately their idea of what it is to be a Christian and what it means to be Christian in this country.
In the book, I look at how various factors in the 20th century led to the emergence of this embrace of a militant Christian manhood and particularly
in the Cold War. At that point, communism was seen as a dire threat. And communists were seen as anti-God, anti-American, and anti-family. And the
defense against communism was the military one. And so, that's when you start to hear Evangelists like Billy Graham and others say that we needed
strongmen to defend faith, family, and nation.
MARTIN: Even after the Cold War, when there was no longer that threat, like, how did this -- why did this take hold and why become so popular --
DU MEZ: Evangelicalism, we really need to think about it, not primarily as a sign of theological beliefs but more as a culture and even a consumer
culture. And so, back in the 1940s, when the National Association of Evangelicalism was formed, they had a plan. And they wanted to use popular
culture to evangelize and to extend their vision of Christian America. And they talked about radio stations, and they talked about Christian
publishing and having bookstores across the country. Christian magazines. And they achieved all of this and more within even just 15 years or so.
And so, to grow up evangelical and the last half-century has meant to grow up immersed in this evangelical culture. And through a youth group, through
watching Christian movies, Christian radio. I grew up in this culture. I didn't grow up, ever, listening to what we called secular music or what was
played on, kind of, the top 40 radio stations. We were fully immersed in this Christian world which was not just about telling people about Jesus.
It was also very much about forming political and cultural values.
And that's really how we have to understand the power of evangelicalism. It is a way of life and it's a sense of identity and community.
MARTIN: You pointed out a number of fascinating data points. The fact that white male evangelicals are far more likely to own guns than any other
member of -- anybody else in the population. They're more likely to have negative news about immigration. And more likely to believe that police
violence toward minorities is overblown. But what's the chicken and what's the egg? If you think -- that people are drawn to this particular brand of
evangelicalism because that's what they believe anyway or do you believe that these religious views or at least what started as religious views are
animating the culture? Do you have a sense of that?
DU MEZ: It's very much both. And as chicken and egg scenarios tend to be. So, we do have, particularly in recent years.
We see a number of white Americans in particular who are adopting the evangelical label precisely because it aligns with their political and
cultural values that they already hold. So, you do see that happening. But you also have to understand that within evangelical spaces, so many of
these political values are just part of the air that they breathe. And it's not even understood as distinctly political.
So, if you ask a white evangelical, chances are they'll tell you that their church is not political at all. And, yes, I'll visit these churches and
I'll hear prayers about either thanking God for the anointing of Brett Kavanaugh, or you know prayers against the evils of big government. You
know very political but it's not perceived as political because it is inseparable from their religious formation. Insufferable from what they
simply understand it is to be a Christian.
MARTIN: Your book first emerged during the era of President Trump. And it - - I don't know if this was your intention but it certainly answers a question that a lot of people who don't identify as evangelical have, which
is how can people support somebody who seems so antithetical to their professed values. So vulgar, so disrespectful towards women, multiply
married, a record of infidelity, a record of business dishonesty. And so many people look at that who were not even evangelical and say, how can you
support this person? Was that part of the agenda for writing a book?
DU MEZ: You know, I started researching evangelical masculinity and militarism more than 15 years ago. And then I set the research aside for
around a decade. And then it was in the fall of 2016, the days after the release of the Access Hollywood Tape that I realized the language I was
hearing evangelicals use to defend their support for candidate Trump in that moment was exactly what I had read all of those years ago. That God
fills men with testosterone so they can be strong, ruthless even so that they can protect Christianity.
And in some ways, traditional Christian virtue actually worked against that and Trump was so perfect because -- precisely because he was crass and he
was ruthless. And so, I knew in the fall of 2016 that what we were looking at was not the betrayal of evangelical values. We simply didn't fully
understand what those values were. And if we put the assertion of white patriarchal authority at the center of family values evangelicalism, then a
lot of things start to fall into place.
MARTIN: You talked about somebody like, for example, Pastor Russell Moore who had had a very prominent position within the Southern Baptist
Convention but he has now left the organization, as have a number of people, the few who criticized the former president. Either as a candidate
or during his conduct in office. And you point out it's because it was volatility (ph), it was the congregations who would not tolerate leaders
who didn't agree with them. How do you understand that?
DU MEZ: I mean, this is a populist movement. And in August of 2015 already, we could see signs of evangelical support for Trump at the grassroots. And
it's important to focus on that date, August 2015. Very early in the primary season. So, this is not, you know, what could evangelicals do,
Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. Evangelicals helped to secure Trump denomination if you look at the data over time. And this was grassroots. It
did not come from the top down. You had leaders like Russell Moore in august 2015 saying, yes, we don't buy this, right.
I don't know any pastors who are supporting Trump. And I will say he was engaged in a kind of grand protection, right. He was trying to say, no we
are not radicals. White evangelicals are very respectable people. We are good people and we wouldn't fall for a guy like this. And he got it wrong.
But I will say that for a number of leaders like Russell Moore who have and pushed out, edged out, or have been essentially felt that they can no
longer hold these positions of authority because they had no leadership. Part of what's going on is the influence of talk radio, of Fox News, of
News Max, and so on really cultivating the values within their congregations.
But there's another thing also, and that is the complicity of powerful white evangelical leaders as well who, for a long time, gave cover to some
of the more radical elements. Thinking that they could control those. Thinking that they, you know, were all on the same side. In the end and
what we see now, is that those -- many of these respectable evangelical leaders have lost power, have absolutely lost control, if they ever had it
of what is essentially a populist movement.
MARTIN: Like the Republican Party.
DU MEZ: Very much like what we see in the Republican Party. And it's no coincidence, right? White evangelicals make up a significant portion of the
Republican Party. They've helped define the agenda since the late 70s at least. And we see some of the same, kind of, purity tests happening there.
And very much the lack of power of the respectable leaders and in the populist insurgency.
MARTIN: And in the church, I think that one of those points that you make in the church is the abuse of women. I mean, the sexual abuse of women and
girls, you know, it has to be said. You know, how many of these prominent figures have been found to be extremely abusive in their relationships with
young people, particularly young women but also, it has to be said, some young men. And so, one would think that that would be a wake-up call but it
doesn't seem to be.
DU MEZ: Stories are devastating. So many stories of abuse in evangelical churches, organizations, and homes. And you're exactly right. This is not
just a story of, you know, occasional perpetrators who are doing terrible things. We have that everywhere. But what was really striking is the
patterns that emerged over decades of good people, you know, Christian churchgoers, bystanders, even family members who would end up defending
perpetrators and blaming the women. Even blaming young girls. And this was just shocking for me as a researcher.
But when I went back to the historical teachings from the 1960s and 1970s on sexuality and how to be a good Christian woman, it all became clear.
Because evangelical teachings on sacks are just filled with this idea of gender difference. And God created man in one way and men have an
aggressive sexual drive and that's just the way they're made. And so, it's up to women who do not have that aggressive sexual drive to protect purity.
So, they should not tempt men who are not their husbands. And wives, then, when they are married, have to fulfill their husband's every sexual need.
So, any case of sexual misconduct, there is a woman to blame. So, a young girl could have seduced her dad, which seems absolutely -- it is absolutely
absurd. But often the wife is blamed as well for not meeting her husband's sexual needs. And then you have the purity culture that emerges that is
very much based on a sexual double standard. And this is exactly what you see played out in these horrific stories of abuse.
MARTIN: So, we are in a moment now when the fulfillment of a long-term conservative evangelical project is at hand. As we are speaking now, a
leaked draft -- a draft copy of a Supreme Court opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion
nationwide under certain circumstances is now at hand.
DU MEZ: Yes.
MARTIN: There is a hyper conservative Supreme Court majority which seems poised to do, seem willing to do that, seems intentional about doing that.
But what effect, do you think, it'll have more broadly about this movement?
DU MEZ: Oh, it's -- if anything, in the short term, I think it will further radicalize the evangelical movement. I'm already seeing, as -- already last
night on social media a talk from evangelicals, a kind of gleeful celebration and chiding any evangelicals who raised questions about Donald
Trump. See the ends to justify the means played out exactly what we wanted in this, kind of, ruthless display of power whether it's through Trump in
his person. Whether it's through Supreme Court appointments. Whether it's through, you know, subverting Democratic norms. All of this pays off
because we got what we wanted.
And so, I see that in the short term. The longer term is a little bit more difficult to discern because the truth is many Christian women, and in
fact, evangelical women do procure abortions. And throughout Christian history and throughout evangelical history, you can see that pre-Roe V.
Wade and actually pre-970s, late '70s, and early '80s, there was more -- there were mixed views on abortion in conservative evangelical communities.
Very few evangelicals would celebrate abortion. They certainly weren't going to shout your abortion camp. But there was much more nuanced.
And so, in 1968, Christianity today had a special issue on abortion. And the gist of it was it's really complicated. And it's not a good thing but
it is sometimes a necessary thing in the case of race -- rape, in the case of incest, in the case of -- for the health of the mother even.
And the Southern Baptist Convention, up until 1976, endorsed a pro-choice platform. So, there is a history of seeing abortion as a complex moral
issue and sometimes the lesser of two evils. With the politicization of abortion by the late 1970s, the rise of the Moral Majority, folks like
Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich, helped make abortion, kind of, the primary mobilizing issue for the Christian right.
And so, from that point on, this complicated moral territory receded. And I certainly grew up in an -- kind of, evangelical culture where life began at
conception. There was no debate. And pro-life is the Christian response. Antiabortion is the only acceptable view. But that, kind of, hard lined on
abortion is of relatively recent origin.
MARTIN: Well, Professor Du Mez, you've -- you know, you've laid out a very complex and also, frankly, disturbing picture here for us. And I just
wonder, how you think about that as a person who -- you dedicated both your life and your work to understanding religious communities and their
influence in society. Where does this leave you, if I may ask that?
DU MEZ: Right. So, I'm a Christian. I teach at a Christian university and I'm a historian of American Christianity. And, honestly, when I first
started the research that became "Jesus and John Wayne", I had the idea that I can expose this and maybe change things. And then a few months into
the research, I kind of abandoned that plan because I saw just how deeply embedded these values were. And I thought this is not going to change. Then
my task really was, I need to document this. I need to explain this. I need to testify to this. I think that, frankly, what we're going to be
experiencing in the next few years is going to be a very difficult time for American Christians. But particularly for all Americans and for our
MARTIN: And why is that?
DU MEZ: I think that -- so, the subtitle of my book is "How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation". And the "Corrupted
a Faith" is not a historical claim that, kind of speaking to evangelicals on their own terms. Bible-believing evangelicals and showing how they have
in fact abandoned many biblical teachings about loving one's neighbor, and about loving one's enemies, and so forth. But the "Fractured a Nation"
part, I think, is particularly relevant for this moment that we find ourselves in.
Because when you think that you have God's truth, and that only you have access to God's truth, and that you have a special role to play to defend
Christian America, which means defending against external enemies in terms of foreign policy. But it also means protecting against internal enemies
and really finding the culture wars. That creates a culture where there is no room for compromise. And it holds up these purity standards. And a
culture where democracy is absolutely not the highest ideal but carrying out God's will. And I think that's where we find ourselves, and that makes
our current moment very difficult because there is a solid group of American citizens right now who are not interested in compromise, and not
interested in even a fair play or in reaching across the aisle.
MARTIN: Professor Kristin Du Mez, thank you so much for talking with us today. So much to talk about. I do hope we'll talk again.
DU MEZ: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, Democratic institutions are also under assault in the Philippines, a longtime strategic partner of the United
States where voters head to the polls on Monday. And in the lead is Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Marcos Jr. He's the son of Ferdinand Marcos, the
dictator and kleptocrat ousted from power in 1986. By his side, as running mate, Sara Duterte. She's President Rodrigo Duterte's eldest daughter.
The President, often compared to Donald Trump for his bombastic populism, leaves a tainted legacy over his war on drugs, and chipping away at
democratic institutions. Richard Heydarian is a political scientist and author. This is his warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD HEYDARIAN, COLUMNIST AND POLITICAL SCIENTIST: The Philippines is really in a very, very, I would say, delicate situation. Because President
Duterte has been able to undermine the foundations of democracy, but he never had the were width all and discipline to push it over the edge.
Should another Marcos win, he may be in a position to do that. And at the very least, a constitutional change could be in the cards very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, tune in tomorrow for my full interview and some reporting on the Philippines election. That's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you
can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen is a QR code. All you need to do is pick up your phone and scan it
with your camera. You can also find it at cnn.com/podcast and on all major platforms. Just search Amanpour. Thank you for watching and goodbye from