Dispatches from Freedom Cruise

Prospect Magazine catches up with the Freedom Cruise, an evangelical Republican political rally at sea, set to the sound of southern gospel:

The irony of a Christian gospel gathering on a steroidal pleasure boat is not lost on the Freedom Cruisers (for one thing, Southern Baptists don’t drink). While they sit in this darkened theatre, their fellow passengers are gambling, attending seminars on how to get a celebrity smile and flawless skin, playing bingo, watching a slideshow on Jackie Kennedy’s jewellery, or taking part in one of the contests—earlier I saw Debby from Kansas City and Wendy from Phoenix shake their asses before a cheering crowd to win a Raspberry Crème Brûlée Martini.


Guy Penrod, a lupine fiftysomething country and gospel rocker with waist-length grey hair and a trimmed goatee, is the star of the Freedom Cruise concerts. He’s also the most vocal about the opportunity his fellow Christians have this week. They can get out there on the ship and minister to the lost—those “who have not met the lover of their soul.” Penrod is the son of a Baptist preacher and he met his wife Angie, with whom he has eight children, at Liberty University in Virginia, founded by the televangelist Jerry Falwell. “The Bible is a manual for living,” he tells the crowd. “You can spread that news, you can be Jesus to them.” The audience applauds and amens and raises its hands in praise. The guitar strikes up, the lights swirl, and he sings: “Though none go with me, still I will follow, I will follow Jesus.” Such scenes are at best foreign (and at worst, anathema) to the Republican party’s economic libertarians and Wall Street conservatives, who for the last 30 years have found themselves in an odd political marriage with evangelical Christians.

The whole thing is here.

Email this Post


  1. Friday Night Revival wrote:

    Excellent! And so true, a strange relationship indeed. But flip it over, just as strange as a staunch southern democrat and a deistic, philosophizing liberal. I assume we’re a nation with great balance, at least.

  2. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Since we can clearly see the writer of this article didn’t bother to get a detail like the length of Guy Penrod’s hair correct, I doubt they’re bothering to be factual about much else.

  3. irishlad wrote:

    2…and i don’t believe he’s fifty something either. A wolf in sheep’s clothing?…perhaps.

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    Yeah, his hair is around shoulder-length and his age around 46-48 I think.

  5. CVH wrote:

    Interesting piece. It doesn’t break new ground but probably serves as a good introduction to the evangelical/Republican/southern gospel backstory for those who aren’t familiar with it.

    As Friday says, we’re a nation of great balance but I think we’re also a nation of great contradiction. While conservatives may have an affinity for and a need for support from white evangelicals, historically they are only given lip service. If conservative politicians were serious, at least some of their social agenda would have been accomplished after 30 years. On the other side, the typical Freedom Cruiser is blindly following anything that smells like what they’d like to see, in their rose-colored glasses, let’s bring back Ozzie & Harriet worldview. Even within the Republican party, there is more polarization than ever before. You might as well bring back Goldwater. The Tea Partiers, with their strident take-no-prisoners mindset, are resonating with a lot of religious folk - conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists (e.g. a lot of SG fans). You can sit around all day chit-chatting with Mike Huckabee but at the end of the day, southern gospel fans and the Christian right are nothing more than a voting block to be handled and manipulated for the greatest gain. Tools, basically.

    It’s no different on the left either. It’s just a different set of issues, a different menu and different music.

    Moderates? We’re a dying breed. Everyone says they need us to win (and that’s probably true from a pure numbers standpoint) but no one is speaking to us. No one really cares about anything but their own economic self-interest and their own agenda. Hey, but at least Guy Penrod’s working.

  6. Sam wrote:

    I read the full article. I am not sure I would expect someone from the UK / EU to understand or be able to expound accurately upon our particluar (SG) style of Gospel Music, our religion, or our politics either for that matter. The Brits I know personally are a different lot, to say the least. (No insult intended.)

    Granted there are problems within both parties and our entire political system. The chuminess that “church” and politics seem to have developed is also very objectionable to me. As a Christian I abhor what this association has wrought.

    It has always been tough to be taken seriously as a Christian due to the “religious fanatic” brush we get painted with as a result of fringe “radio and TV preachers” and others that mis-represent who and what we are and only serve to give us all a bad name.

    Finally, there is no moderate or reasonable position in either party. As a result I end up voting for “lesser” evils which is not ideal, but the way I have to participate.

  7. Wade wrote:

    Irish lad …

    You know you had to look up LUPINE don’t pretend you are that smart!!! ;-)

    But the word just like the writer style is a good example of how The Brits write. DBM is above saying if the writer did not get the length of the hair correct how mush else of it could be CORRECT!!!???

    Since it was mostly an opinion piece & the writers personal TAKE (OBSERVATION) of being dropped in to the middle of something as WORLDLY as a CRUISE with the Right Wing Conservative Over Reaching Evangelical Part of the party being represented and along for the ride in the observations did not see many FACTS that would be in question.

    In the best example of CONSIDERING THE SOURCE I have read in a LONG TIME do not forget the the Brits often use a BIG OLE BASKET full of HYPERBOLE!!! Maybe even more than I use regularly!! ;-) But less than Dr. Joe & Alan!! lollolo l;-)

    Think I just won a few of Wendy’s from Phoenix Raspberry Crème Brûlée Martini…and did not have to shake my ass to do it!!! ;-)) OK MORE than a FEW!! :-)

    HAPPY 4th of July Y’all !!

  8. More wrote:

    This is a lib article by a lib journalist reposted by a lib blogger. Hello, people?

  9. irishlad wrote:


  10. Ode wrote:

    6, the author is US born, lives in NYC. He talks, walks and quacks as an American, the only thing resembling British style, to me personally, was openly quoting a woman’s racist remark. US journalist most likely would’ve downplayed it a bit ;)

  11. Ode wrote:

    7, Ol’ Wade nailed it. Slight exaggeration, hyperbole and presenting personal perceptions of people as factual, within reason, are time honored techniques in analytical journalism; it doesn’t affect the main idea.

    Describing my pastor as “short, sweet, round and bald”, while wrong if taken literally, nevetheless correctly portrays a man of 5′5, sometimes bitter, closer to a rectangular shape, with enough remaining hairs for a joyful combover.

    God given journaistic license ;)(I used to freelance in h.school and army). If politicians, news media and filmmakers were telling the truth, they would end up in prison,banrkuptcy or documentary genre, respectively

  12. Ode wrote:

    1, excellent article indeed, and speaking of balance and sinking, it’s a first media piece on the subj without obligatory snarks: “center of mass hasn’t been voted down yet- congregating all Freedom Cruisers in one concert spot is Titanic wating to happen” , ” Christian Right are usually neither”, etc. Nice job, Adam Haslett.

    BTW,very glad to see another girl(?) posting here (you sound like one).I am getting lonely,its usually only boys.. :)

  13. irishlad wrote:

    11…bahwahahah..that WAS funny Ode “joyful combover” indeed! :)

  14. tommy wrote:

    I’m not sure what the point of this exercise is. Are we supposed to read this and feel embarrassed by our beliefs and our culture? This only further proves the arrogance of liberals. They attend these types of events not to understand us more but rather to mock us. They use stereotypes to describe us, something I believe I was taught was politically incorrect to do by these same people. Would the writer of this piece describe the events in the same manner if he attended a Lady Gaga concert, democratic rally or a Gay pride event? Would they mock their clothes or their “extreme” beliefs. I am assuming not. More importantly, who cares what he has to say? I don’t. Just because someone has a podium to stand on an spew their ignorance does not make them an expert on anything. It’s a shame they spent so much time mocking Guy Penrod. Had they listened to him maybe they would have met Christ and actually had a real story to tell.

  15. melvin klaudt wrote:

    I accepted Christ to be a follower of Christ, not to be a Democrat or Republican.
    And I used to wear my hair longer and it was black, and now it is gray and almost gone. I am not looking for Democrats and Republicans to lead me to the promised land. All I want to do is to be a servant to my Creator and my fellow mankind and not be a slave to Washington.

  16. irishlad wrote:

    Hear hear…three cheers for Melvin, good post.

  17. Wade wrote:


    You do have a point most libs can dish it out way better than they can take it!!

    Their sense of humor line ends when hyperbole is turned on them.

    Could give a few examples but this post may not make it through!!! ;-) :-)

  18. CVH wrote:

    Melvin, right on brother.

  19. irishlad wrote:

    Melvin, just caught the KIF on youtube singing “That’s why i Sing”, great stuff! It brought a great big smile to my face..still smiling, you can’t beat animated singing. :)

  20. melvin klaudt wrote:

    # 19, I don’t know who puts them on youtube, but I thank them. Those vids go back at least 50 years. Time flies!!

  21. irishlad wrote:

    20 who was the fine bass ?

  22. melvin klaudt wrote:

    We were four brothers. Vernon, the older brother, sang the bass. He passed away in 2006.

    Raymond, Kenneth and Melvin sang the other parts.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked * Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.