Du Mez argues, using an extensive amount of research, that white evangelical culture often glorifies the aggressive, patriarchal idea of manhood, which has become intertwined with what it means to be a conservative Christian in the modern age ... One of the book’s subtle insights is that being evangelical isn’t just about agreeing to a certain set of theological principles—that’s just where the rest of the lifestyle management begins ... One of the book’s missed opportunities is a more thorough exploration of the prosperity gospel, or the bizarre notion that, as one book put it, 'Jesus Wants You to Be Rich.' If ultra-manliness is the goal, then for Americans raised on the Protestant ethic money is the means to that worldly end ... Du Mez makes it clear that she’s not criticizing from the ivory tower or explicitly from the left. A history professor at a prominent Christian college, the author of A New Gospel for Women and a contributor to Christianity Today, she’s in an ideal position to expose the hypocrisy, crudeness, and chauvinism of the religious right. When she considers her deep roots in an Iowa city that welcomed a Trump rally with open arms, her personal pain speaks volumes about what’s really been lost amid the religious right’s rush to pound their chests and make Jesus Great Again
... impressive ... Du Mez more than adequately substantiates her thesis that evangelical Trump support represents 'the culmination of evangelicals’ embrace of militant masculinity, an ideology that enshrines patriarchal authority and condones the callous display of power, at home and abroad' ... Du Mez leads us with apparent ease, as only a seasoned historian can, from the days of Teddy Roosevelt and Billy Sunday, through the early Cold War mainstreaming of Christian nationalism and the subsequent white evangelical backlash against the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam protesters, into the rise of the Christian Right as a powerful voting bloc that crystallized in the 1980 election, and finally on to the present. While I occasionally found myself wanting more primary source illustrations of a particular point, for the most part, Du Mez holds her abstract narrative and concrete examples in expert balance, keeping the reader engaged through her lively, colorful prose ... Du Mez’s theological position is established subtly in a book that cannot be called polemical, even if it indulges in the occasional delicious bit of academic snark ... It is impossible to do justice to the richness of Jesus and John Wayne in a short review ... a book that America needs now. I hope it will be widely read.
Kristin Kobes Du Mez...has assembled all the top personalities and all the turning points in a fast-moving, if stomach-churning history that ultimately explains how America adopted Donald Trump. It is less than pretty ... There is a ton of irony throughout the book ... All in all, Jesus and John Wayne makes Christian evangelicals look like a very ugly cult. Unlike so many others that bloom, fester and disappear, this one has staying power. It is successful, and it is a shame.