Late last week, my friend Jake Meador — author and editor-in-chief at Mere Orthodoxy — dropped a banger of a thread on Twitter. It begins with Jake revealing that he’d received a letter from a man named Josh Abbotoy demanding that Jake retract and delete a tweet claiming that Abbotoy’s organization, American Reformer, had gone into business with a Nazi.
Jake admitted his error concerning American Reformer, retracted and deleted his tweet, and then posted a humdinger of a correction: that it was, in fact, a different organization called New Founding — a “venture firm and talent network” that’s led by Abbotoy and just so happens to have the same business address as American Reformer — that’s partnering with a Nazi who goes by the Twitter handle “Raw Egg Nationalist.” And Jake, as they say, brought receipts.
Jake includes several instances of Raw Egg Nationalist tweeting Nazi and anti-Semitic language (e.g., Hitler quotes and “blood and soil” references). Raw Egg Nationalist also publishes a magazine titled Man’s World that features articles about health, fitness, cars, and other “masculine” topics alongside articles and essays by fascists and Nazi collaborators, racist ads, promos for far-right companies, and — you guessed it! — pornography. Essentially, Man’s World blends the hyper-macho tone of magazines like Maxim with racism, porn, and shoddy graphic design in a way that desperately wants to seem anarchic, rebellious, and dissident but instead, is overwrought, juvenile, and suffocating on its own self-importance.
The entire thread — make sure you read it all — makes one thing crystal clear: certain facets of American conservatism have become too comfortable with associating themselves with Nazism, fascism, and totalitarianism. Just last month, I wrote about conservatives like Moms for Liberty referencing Hitler in a way that undermines their point and raises questions about their own beliefs:
Conservatives may think they’re landing some heavy rhetorical blows in the culture war. But for many, the Right’s invocations of Hitler et al. don’t read as warnings or thoughtful critiques of political opponents. Rather, they read as advocating for a model of cultural and political dominance that’s worth emulating — regardless of what history’s taught us.
Some have defended Raw Egg Nationalist by claiming that it’s all just a joke, and Jake’s an idiot for not seeing that. Indeed, Abbotoy’s letter claims that Raw Egg Nationalist — who’s a “leading influencer on health, fitness and nutrition” — is all an act. His “online persona” is a “tongue-in-cheek performance” that “relentlessly and effectively mocks the leftist urge to castigate attempts at self-improvement as fascist or racist.”
Abbotoy’s letter also defends the idea of going into business with someone like Raw Egg Nationalist:
Christians should have a far higher standard for who they will platform in a distinctly Christian forum, but naturally will accept a much broader set of transactional partners in business dealings. An elder of a local church might very well have a business relationship with an atheist, a Jew or Hindu, a gay person, but to assert that the church has consequently gone into business with that partner is absurd.
There’s some truth in Abbotoy’s words. I happen to be an elder in my church, and I’ve had multiple business dealings with people who don’t always share my beliefs, including some who ardently oppose them — which is just the simple reality of living in a pluralistic society. But that doesn’t mean that my religious beliefs have no bearing whatsoever on my business dealings.
For starters, they demand that I deal with my clients, business partners, and co-workers in a manner that’s ultimately fair, equitable, and honorable — even if doing so costs me somehow. More relevant to this particular situation, however, my religious beliefs do determine who I have business dealings with in the first place. I’ve passed on certain projects and contracts precisely because I couldn’t square them with my beliefs and convictions. (For example, I once passed on redesigning a church’s website when I began to suspect that they were, in fact, a cult.)
According to their website, American Reformer (where Abbotoy is executive director) seeks to “promote a vigorous Christian approach to the cultural challenges of our day, rooted in the rich tradition of Protestant social and political thought.” Among other things, this includes “equipping evangelical Christians to confidently and forthrightly defend Scriptural truths and natural law in the face of widespread cultural capitulation.”
Setting aside, for the moment, the question of whether or not Raw Egg Nationalist’s Nazism is real or just a shtick, you’d think that someone like Abbotoy — someone who seeks to “promote a vigorous Christian approach to the cultural challenges of our day” — would be hesitant to platform someone who spreads and promotes pornographic material, especially if it’s part of some mere “tongue-in-cheek performance.” Doing so seems to undermine and downplay the cultural challenge that pornography represents, a cultural challenge that — in my experience, anyway — most Christians want to combat.
It doesn’t matter if the partnership is for a different organization; it still involves the same leadership making the decisions and seeking to profit from them. To argue that it doesn’t matter would be tantamount to arguing that one should be allowed to be inconsistent in how they apply their Christian beliefs to the various spheres of their life. Obviously, as sinners living in a fallen world, we can never be totally consistent, but consistency should still be our goal. Otherwise, we’re just hypocrites who want to have it both ways: piety in some aspects of our lives, power and profit in others.
Then again, we live in an era where the vast majority of white, evangelical protestants supported Donald Trump, a man who told of tens of thousands of lies during his presidency, fomented rebellion and chaos after losing the 2020 election, bragged about sexual assault and was found guilty of rape, and dismissed basic Christian theology. And in this era, unfortunately, many people have sacrificed solid, consistent political ideals for one simple goal: owning the libs.
Everything is now a culture war in which compromise is unthinkable; cultural power and influence are all that matter. But as evidenced by someone like Raw Egg Nationalist, that sort of thinking can lead to a conclusion that’s both silly and dangerous: that the best way to defend and promote your lofty ideals is by digging deeper and deeper until you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, tweeting out Nazi memes and publishing pornography.
Apparently, that’s what Josh Abbotoy and New Founding believe is necessary to help “rebuild American Civilization” and “reclaim the American economy for the American people,” as per their online messaging. But can one really turn a blind eye to such nastiness and still claim they want to “promote a vigorous Christian approach to the cultural challenges of our day”?