The Art of Jon McNaughton, the Tea Party’s Painter (Or, In My Opinion, Bad Art Giving Voice to Syncretistic Theology)


A fascinating interpretation of the politically charged artwork of Jon McNaughton, and the emerging political coalition between some Mormons and some evangelicals:

A few years ago, political commentators wondered if a new partnership was emerging in American politics between evangelicals and Catholics. But neither group has turned out to be as monolithic as some expected. One Nation Under God, The Forgotten Man and Wake Up America! suggest a new coalition, one personified in Glenn Beck (and now perhaps Mitt Romney): a union among conservative evangelicals and Mormons. It is noteworthy that Joseph Smith is not among the worthies who step forth from the mist of the American past. But we do see at least one Mormon: among the righteous stands a black male college student—perhaps a counterintuitive choice to represent McNaughton’s own faith, as black men were banned from the Mormon priesthood until 1978. This man holds a copy of a book by the oft-described “faith-based political theorist” Willard Cleon Skousen, a writer frequently touted by Beck. The Five Thousand Year Leap (1981) proclaimed that the Constitution was inspired by the freedom fighters of the Bible, not the free thinkers of the Enlightenment. The cause around which the new coalition gathers is the Christian Nation—although whether this alliance can endure remains to be seen. The artist himself told The National Review that he left the GOP during the presidency of George W. Bush, who, McNaughton said, “ruined the Republican Party.”

By the way, take a look at McNaughton’s One Nation Under God above. The painting mashes up the Great Judgment over which Christ presides with contemporary American politics. In missiological terms, this is about as frank an example of syncretism as you’re likely to see.

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