Jim DeMint and The Heritage Foundation, ESPN and Politics, United Methodists, and Remembering Walker Percy


DeMint’s Demise? Multiple news outlets report that Jim DeMint will resign as president of The Heritage Foundation, though a group of conservatives on Capitol Hill have co-signed a letter of support for DeMint. The Heritage Foundation is arguably the most influential conservative think tank in the country, and it played a vital role in the transition to the Trump administration. However, some longtime Heritage supporters believe it has become too political and doesn’t place as much emphasis as it should on pure research and ideas. As for myself, I know Jim DeMint, like him, and have learned a great deal from him about how to communicate conservative ideas in the public square. The same is true of many other conservative leaders; DeMint has been a mentor to such figures as Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Rep. Paul Ryan.

ESPN and Politics. You probably read about the layoffs at the sports network ESPN. According to The New York Times report on the downsizing, the network lost such celebrities as “former N.F.L. players Trent Dilfer and Danny Kanell, former N.B.A. player Len Elmore, former baseball general manager Jim Bowden and longtime N.F.L. reporter Ed Werder.” ESPN and many media analysts have tried to spin this layoff as a preemptive response to changes in the industry. They say that ESPN is being smart by positioning themselves for those changes. But it’s also true, according to the same Times report, that “the network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years.” A part of the drop in viewership is technological. People are watching more sporting events on their mobile devices than ever before. But Sean Davis at The Federalist believes that an “obsession with politics” is contributing to ESPN’s troubles. Davis writes: “Politics didn’t doom ESPN, but it’s going to make it extremely difficult for ESPN to dig itself out. . . . People in this business know you have to pick a side. That works in political news. It doesn’t work if you have a bipartisan mass media audience. . . . ESPN ended up communicating to half its audience that it didn’t respect them. How? By committing itself entirely—not to political news, but to unceasing Left-wing political commentary. You want to watch the Lakers game? Okay, but first you’re going to hear about Caitlyn Jenner. Want some NFL highlights? We’ll get to those eventually, but coming up next will be a discussion about how North Carolina is run by racist, homophobic bigots.” Time will tell if ESPN will return to what it knows best—sports—and leave the politics to those who know that best.

Upholding Marriage. The New York Times is reporting that “the United Methodist Church’s highest court has ruled that the consecration of its first openly gay bishop violated church law, compounding a bitter rift over homosexuality that has brought the 13-million-member denomination to the brink of schism.” According to The Times, “the church’s Judicial Council found that a married lesbian bishop and those who consecrated her were in violation of their ‘commitment to abide by and uphold the church’s definition of marriage and stance on homosexuality.’” The United Methodist Church is the nation’s second largest Protestant denomination.

Love in the Ruins. Fans of Walker Percy have much to celebrate in the month of May. The novelist was born on May 28, 1916. He died on May 10, 1990. His novel “Love in the Ruins” was published in May 1971. “Love in the Ruins,” which I’ve previously called one of Percy’s most significant works, begins with this great opening line: “Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?” For more about Walker Percy, and why my favorite Percy is not “Love in the Ruins,” but “The Moviegoer,” click here.

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Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.

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