Preface from Jake: The “evangelical dark web” is a designation adopted by a group of evangelical social media personalities and bloggers centered around a few various web sites such as For the Christian Intellectual, Pulpit and Pen, Sovereign Nations, and Enemies Within the Church. The movement is a self-proclaimed insurgency meant to combat perceived liberalism in other evangelical organizations and denominations. While it’s own positions are broadly in keeping with the political beliefs of the old guard Religious Right, it’s rhetorical positioning is more in keeping with a neo-fundamentalist stream of evangelicalism.

One could assert that the self-proclaimed “evangelical dark web” is insurgent in character. Its overall aim is institutional takeover. Its intermediate aim is intellectual capture of the “target population” (e.g. 18-30 year old conservative evangelicals, particularly males).

Its strategy is multi-form and typical for insurgencies:

  • embarrass the regime in power
  • make it [the regime] appear weak and corrupt
  • create (online) zones of counter-control
  • tempt the regime in power to over-respond in a heavy-handed and/or inept manner
  • through expansion of its captured target population over time, overwhelm the regime.

Its primary tactic: the rhetorical hammer.

Granting that characterization, an obvious question for those orthodox Protestant Christians who reject the evangelical dark web is how to run an effective counterinsurgency against the “evangelical dark web?” These are some embryonic thoughts:

Counterinsurgency has three traditional components: isolate and degrade insurgent activity, build target audience resiliency (e.g. strengthen, defend, and counter-radicalize), and lastly, if and where needed, reform the at-risk regime.

For countering the evangelical dark web particularly, these steps will need to be taken.

[1] Demand citations and evidence for every assertion. Demand context for every pull quote. Fact check every infographic. Force them back to original sources (books, dissertations, etc.) at every possible juncture.

[2] Question all characterizations every time (e.g. if they say someone is a “socialist” or “cultural Marxist,” always make them define the term and support the assertion with evidence).

[3] Interrogate the interrogator: research, write and post accurate stories about the individuals and groups in the “evangelical dark web” (e.g. what things have they been involved with in the past; previous attempts at this type of activity; how do they get their funding?)

[4] Host college and young career fellowship content analysis viewing parties. Get some food, a copy of the upcoming “social justice infiltration” video, a local speaker familiar with 20th century US evangelical history, political theology, and/or the history of ideas, and slowly walk the audience through the video itself. Discuss framing, the quality of evidence and argumentation, and the backgrounds of the documentary’s backers, hosts, and talking heads.

[5] Fight the temptation to get certain outlets or personalities to do battle on your behalf. A critique of the “evangelical dark web” by the Gospel Coalition, ERLC, the New York Times, Washington Post, or the Southern Poverty Law Center, or a byline by Emma Green, Peter Wehner, John Fea, Warren Throckmorton, et. al. will backfire and easily become ammunition for the next round of attacks.

[6] Get solid material on intellectual and social history into the hands of your 18-30 year olds. Someone’s less likely to accept conspiratorial assertions about the undue influence of the Frankfurt School if they’ve actually read some Richard Wolin. If you host a book club, offer the recent-published biography of Stokely Carmichael or Lillian Calles Barger’s just-published history of liberation theology. Help your young adults understand the context of ideas.

[7] Be over-transparent about outside funding. It shouldn’t take downloading and reviewing multiple pdfs from an online 990 tracker to figure out the amount of outside funding an evangelical school, university, or ministry has received. If you get a grant, talk about it (unless there are certain restrictions from doing so — and if there are restrictions, determine if those are worth the benefit)

[8] Be very open about normal organizational behavior — networking, business, and shared messaging. The “Big Eva” critique is often validated by people pointing to an ostensible set of related Gospel Coalition posts highlighting upcoming conference talks on newly-published Crossway books. Being up-front about the business end of stuff goes a long way towards demythologization. Be clear about how important agents like Wolgemuth and Associates are for professional evangelical publishing. And to be sure, it should be highlighted that the “evangelical dark web” isn’t immune from this critique either. The same individual’s media company does communications for Pulpit and Pen and the web design for the upcoming video’s conference page. Note the strategic cross-posting and sharing between Sovereign Nations, Pulpit and Pen, Thirty Pieces of Silver, For the New Christian Intellectual, and Capstone Report.

Posted by Brian Auten

Brian Auten currently serves as a supervisory intelligence analyst with the United States government and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Government at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. He is the author of Carter’s Conversion: The Hardening of American Defense Policy (University of Missouri Press, 2008). All views, opinions and conclusions are solely those of the author and not the US government, any entity within the US intelligence community, or Patrick Henry College.

  • Insightful.

  • Pingback: Gov't Intelligence Analyst/Counterterrorism Expert Issues Warning About P&P, "Evangelical Dark Web"()

  • Wow, I thought this was a joke, a caricature of how the left acts. I didn’t realize the author worked with you guys. I didn’t realize you were on the left side of evangelicalism. Time to move on.

  • Pingback: Crackdown on Christians: USA intelligence analyst warns people about sites that uncover church corruption – 4WindsUSA.com()

  • hoosier_bob

    This seems like an unfair characterization. I want nothing to do with these folks, but I’m happy to concede the evangelical label to them.

  • gingerdr

    I laugh when I read this. Looks like those that are exposing the liberal agenda are succeeded in their mission. I fully support them and will be attending the conference in Iowa.

  • kirkion

    Mr. Auten,

    “[7] Be over-transparent about outside funding.” Do you really think that this is possible?

  • Before I go, I have a few questions
    Thank you for listing these “evil” (chuckle) sites, I found them to be right up my alley especially in their exposing charismatic nuttyness – can you list a few more for me?
    How does one get their own blog in the Evangelical Dark Web? is there a username/password kind of thing or is there a signup sheet?
    Do you know if https://EvangelicalDarkWeb.org or https://neo-fundamentalist_stream.net has been taken?

  • mkt

    Not that I’m surprised, but none of your ideas are Biblical and you don’t mention any of the lies, slander and wretched teachings coming from the woke/SJW camp. These guys are simply reacting to them, much like the secular dark web reacted to the uber PC, CRT/intersectional takeover of academia. Did you even bother watching the recent interview Sovereign Nations did with the two atheist professors?

    I wonder what’s next for this site. “An Apologia for Antifa”? And speaking of funding, how come no one but these guys are asking Lig Duncan why he’s taking so much money from a convicted felon (Riady)?

  • Anthony Castellitto

    Why is a guy with these credentials being featured here? What is his dog in this fight? MO needs to exercise a little transparency here or are they a mouth piece for some form of elite establishment?

  • Mr Richard Allan David

    Professor of what? What are your bona fides?

  • Mr Richard Allan David

    Would you deny that Timothy Keller promotes Marxist ideology or has Marxist sympathies? Would you deny that Marxism is incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ?

  • Mr Richard Allan David

    Would you deny that The Gospel Coalition is promoting the idea that a person can continue to have homosexual desires and still claim the redemption that Christ offers? Do you reject the authority and inspiration of the Bible? Do you believe that same sex attraction and/ or marriage is a sin?

  • Kay Cude

    Geez Louise.