Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Special to CNN
Here we go again.
Every four years, with every new presidential election cycle, public voices sound the alarm that the evangelicals are back. What is so scary about America’s evangelical Christians?
Just a few years ago, author Kevin Phillips told intellectual elites to run for cover, claiming that well-organized evangelicals were attempting to turn America into a theocratic state. In “American Theocracy,” Phillips warned of the growing influence of Bible-believing, born-again, theologically conservative voters who were determined to create a theocracy.
Writer Michelle Goldberg, meanwhile, has warned of a new Christian nationalism, based in “dominion theology.” Chris Hedges topped that by calling conservative Christians “American fascists.”
And so-called New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris claim that conservative Christians are nothing less than a threat to democracy. They prescribe atheism and secularism as the antidotes.
This presidential cycle, the alarms have started earlier than usual. Ryan Lizza, profiling Rep. Michele Bachmann for The New Yorker, informed his readers that “Bachmann belongs to a generation of Christian conservatives whose views have been shaped by institutions, tracts, and leaders not commonly known to secular Americans, or even to most Christians.”
Change just a few strategic words and the same would be true of Barack Obama or any other presidential candidate. Every candidate is shaped by influences not known to all and by institutions that other Americans might find strange.
What stories like this really show is that the secular elites assume that their own institutions and leaders are normative.
The New Yorker accused Bachmann of being concerned with developing a Christian worldview, ignoring the fact that every thinking person operates out of some kind of worldview. The article treated statements about wifely submission to husbands and Christian influence in art as bizarre and bellicose.
When Rick Perry questioned the theory of evolution, Dawkins launched into full-on apoplexy, wondering aloud how anyone who questions evolution could be considered intelligent, even as polls indicate that a majority of Americans question evolution.
Bill Keller, then executive editor of The New York Times, topped all the rest by seeming to suggest that conservative Christians should be compared to those who believe in space aliens. He complained that “when it comes to the religious beliefs of our would-be presidents, we are a little squeamish about probing too aggressively.”
Really? Earlier this month, comedian Penn Jillette - a well–known atheist - wrote a very serious op-ed complaining of the political influence of “bugnut Christians,” in the pages of The Los Angeles Times, no less. Detect a pattern here?
By now, this is probably being read as a complaint against the secular elites and prominent voices in the mainstream media. It’s not.
If evangelicals intend to engage public issues and cultural concerns, we have to be ready for the scrutiny and discomfort that comes with disagreement over matters of importance. We have to risk being misunderstood - and even misrepresented - if we intend to say anything worth hearing.
Are evangelicals dangerous? Well, certainly not in the sense that more secular voices warn. The vast majority of evangelicals are not attempting to create a theocracy, or to oppose democracy.
To the contrary, evangelicals are dangerous to the secularist vision of this nation and its future precisely because we are committed to participatory democracy.
As Christians committed to the Bible, evangelicals have learned to advocate on behalf of the unborn, believing that every single human being, at every stage of development, is made in God’s image.
Evangelicals worry about the fate of marriage and the family, believing that the pattern for human relatedness set out in Scripture will lead to the greatest human flourishing.
We are deeply concerned about a host of moral and cultural issues, from how to address poverty to how to be good stewards of the earth, and on some of these there is a fairly high degree of disagreement even among us.
Above all, evangelicals are those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and are most concerned about telling others about Jesus. Most of America’s evangelical Christians are busy raising their children, working to support their families and investing energy in their local churches.
But over recent decades, evangelical Christians have learned that the gospel has implications for every dimension of life, including our political responsibility.
We’re dangerous only to those who want more secular voices to have a virtual monopoly in public life.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Jesus was right when he said they hate me and they will hate you. Prophetic. A very pathetic group here.
Evangelicals are hated because they are so UNLIKE Christ. Not because they are like him in any way.
Back in 1992 I predicted that somebody named Steve would make an egregiously stupid statement in 2011. Wow! I was right. I must be God. You should now believe everything I tell you to.
Right Steve. You were there when Jesus said that. Smart people don't believe in ferry tales. Dummies with way too much time in theirhands. When will Americans understand these preachers and priests do it for the money...because its a business!! Hello???
To quote Ghandi, "I like your Christ but not your Christians, they are so unlike Christ."
“If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.” Gandhi
If Christians did this, most of the world would be Christian. Unfortunately, Christians have been giving Christ a bad reputation for thousands of years.
If Christ ever does return, Christians would be the first to crucify him again because he would be totally against most of what they do.
Steve I am a Christian and saying these things to non-Christians means nothing to them. It only makes them angry.
My problem with theologically grounded argument is that it's like a puncture-proof tire. There is no way to refute (or affirm) an assertion based upon reason, evidence and logic. Without that possibility, the argument is "won" by the number of people who can be convinced, compelled or intimidated to state that they believe it to be true or at least convinced not to denounce it publicly. Looking at the dysfunctional states of our time (Iran, North Korea et. al.) and noting how theological thinking can go awry with no counter-balancing force, we should be very concerned that this might become the preferred American thinking style. For North Korea, the theology is communism so it doesn't necessarily have to be theist in nature. It's a thought process that disallows evidence and reason.
Actually, the theology is the reverence of Kim and his father as, basically, gods.
Unbelievable!!!! Where are the intelligent people!!!!
They are praying. Kidding. They are posting. Kidding again. They are having discussions with real people rather than with anonymous internet juveniles pretending to be adults.
Most intelligent people aren't very religious.
Steve, I am assuming you claim to be a Christian. Calling non-Christians unintelligent is unintelligent! If you want to show your beliefs, do it in a loving manner. Everyone reading this, as a Christian myself, I am deeply sorry for every hypocritical word that comes out of the mouth of someone who claims Christianity!
Truelight70: Actually, most of our founding fathers were atheists.
Slight correction. Most of them were deists. Deists were basically honest atheists who at the time couldn't figure out where everything came from, so went along with the idea of a formless Creator (mentioned by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence) who set everything in motion and then walked away and had nothing to do with the world ever since.
Frankly, if America HAD to have an official religion based on what the Founders REALLY believed personally, I'd be willing to go along with that one AS LONG AS ALL THE BIBLE-THUMPERS HAD TO DO IT, TOO! Now starting to hold my breath.
False: Most founding fathers were Diests, they did believe in a God (just not one that took an active hand in the lives of mortals). Please go on wikipedia or something for 10 minutes at least.
"Many evangelicals want to ban abortion, but does that mean they want theocracy?" No. It means they don't like murder.
So wise "daddy". If evangelicals are so opposed to "murder" as you describe it, why then do a majority of evangelicals support the death penatly? OR is that just the same type of hypocrisy that makes evangelicals famous?
Then they should be equally against the death penalty.
Actually, it means that they can't DEFINE murder.
@Dubya. Yes, they should. Murder is murder whether tied to the cord or tied to the noose.
@mike. Your question is answered in the caption and your comment. "Many evangelicals want to ban abortion" and "a majority of evangelicals support the death penatly". No group has 100% consensus. There will always be differences in opinion. I've even heard atheists say "thank god" out of habit. Does that mean they are closet evangelicals?
@RichardSRussell. Your other posts were much more interesting.
Many evangelicals want the public schools to teach creationism, because that is their religious belief. Many evangelicals want to roll back any equal rights for gay people, because it is wrong according to their religion. Does that mean they want to start a theocracy? It's a big start.
@Gordon. Many gay people walk around in public wearing thongs and go to Hollywood to make TV shows geared towards children. Does that mean gay people want to see children naked? Change topic much?
Basically, this article is about R. Albert Mohler, Jr.’s belief on how evangelical Christians aren’t a real threat to democracy. This is only half true. Anything, whether it be a religious or a political group, can be a major threat to democracy if it is not controlled. For the time being, it is unlikely that they will revolt against democracy and create some sort of religious based government. Many of the atheist political leaders claim that conservative Christians are dangerous and should not have a voice in our government. We cannot have a government that selectively chooses which people to listen to based on their religion. However, we must not allow religion to control our government. As shown in the past and present, theocracies only lead to acts of violence based on beliefs. Unless God decides to run for president, we must focus on our own lives instead of trying to please a being that may not even exist.
This a good paragraph responce?
this artilcle is so racist
"...Dawkins launched into full-on apoplexy, wondering aloud how anyone who questions evolution could be considered intelligent, even as polls indicate that a majority of Americans question evolution."
A majority of Americans could not be considered intelligent. Q.E.D.
It would've been expecting too much, I guess, to have a link to this supposed fit of apoplexy so readers could judge for themselves whether that slander was justified by, um, I guess you'd call it "evidence", wouldn't you? Oh, evidence, ha, consider the source. Never mind.
I wouldn't dispute the conclusion, but the premise of "Dawkins launched into full-on apoplexy, . . ." is pure BS, pulled from his nether regions–the same area where Coulter gets most of her "facts" from. Dawkins is clearly pro-rationality, pro-enlightenment, pro-real science, and anti-organized religion, but where did he ever become full-on apoplectic???
If his tax-free religious work ever dries up, Mohler could certainly work as a salesman proclaiming the innumerable health benefits of smoking, and why eating fresh vegetables will kill you in a week [not to mention sending your soul to hell].
ALL religions are dangerous...!! However nice they look they all are controlled by mad people with a devious agenda..!!!
It is "madness." To believe in fantastical invisible space super heroes without any evidence, and simultaneously denying evidence to points otherwise is insanity. It may be a subtle, socially-accepted insanity, but it is still insanity.
From p. 39
From p. 14:
As with most Christians, Mohler suffers from the Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in the flaws and fallacies of Christianity. The cure? Reading and rational thinking!!!!
Synopsis of 21st Christianity based on the studies of Professors Crossan, Ludemann, Borg, Fredricksen et al:
Jesus was an illiterate, Jewish, peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.
The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".
Current RCC problems:
Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!
Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).
Adu-lterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,–
(added details available)
Evangelicals are dangerous fanatics who seek to impose their belief on every aspect of our private, public, and political lives. They are gullible and easily manipulated bafoons who follow their religious leaders and the GOP blindly.
That couldn't have be said any better.
I can take your abuse but not your mispelling.....it's 'buffoon' . I might add that while Christian history does have dark episodes, people tend to overlook the humanizing influence of Christianity (as well as other religions) over the past two thousand years.
Most of the "humanizing influence" came during the Renaissance and the rise of science, both of which were fought tooth and nail by the religious establishment, which rightly saw them as competi tion. for mindshare.
"..the humanizing influence of Christianity (as well as other religions) over the past two thousand years."
Yes, they did/do have some influence in keeping the hard-of-thinking under control.
It's a little more challenging for secularists/humanists to educate them sans the easy tactics of the invisible boogie-man and fairy godfather.
As an atheist, I do find that we have our own breed of "evangelical atheism" and it is incredibly sad. There is no need for atheists or agnostics to demonize any believer that has good intentions as most do. I believe all atheists find a certain level of misguidance in faith but we should not perpetuate the message of intolerance.
Is being intolerant of intolerance really intolerant?
As a fellow atheist I do not concur with you. There are many examples (George Bush) of believers who invoke their god as justification for their actions. My existence nor that of any other being on this planet does not need to be at the whim of powerful politicians who believe their invisible sky daddy guides them through telepathy or whispers.
Great question, Dubya. Do you find all believers to be intollerant? Or just a select group?
A prayer for both sides:
The Apostles' Creed 2010: (updated by yours truly using the studies of contemporary NT exegetes)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created state of bliss called heaven??
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary.
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many local semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
ascension story was promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
Joy and laughter and no more pain
Where love insists to be known
Imagine all the people
Caring for each other
Instead of all the fussing and arguing
I'm a dreamer a believer
There's hope within our reach
I'm gonna take a stand and agree
The healing begins with me
There's a better way, we don't have to die anymore
Open up your eyes and see the need
We can make a difference with our own lives
If we let love arise from the inside
Heed the call and be all we were made to be
Safety and shelter from the storm
A place for all to call home
Imagine all the people
Learning that which matters most
Can't be bought or earned or taken.
Imagine if we were all rich
Imagine if we all knew peace
Imagine if we all gave love
The way that God gave love
We'd have so much more than enough...
When you're done imagining, open your eyes and see what "God" is really doing here on earth. Nothing much.
You have correctly put your finger on one of the major drivers of the god myth: imagination. People desperately want things to work out for the best — poetic justice, if you will — and when it doesn't turn out that way (as it so often does not), they imagine a fairy-tale world populated by fairy-tale people ruled over by a benevolent fairy-tale sky daddy, where all their dreams can come true. Mediocre fiction, terrible history, appallingly bad science.
You'll have to excuse me for being skeptical of an article written by a Southern Baptist leader who essentially states "We aren't dangerous...unless you disagree with us." No sir, you are extremely dangerous to a country that should value diversity and respect for differing ideas. I've seen the politics, the vitriol, and yes the hate espoused by the leadership of these churches, specifically Southern Baptist churches. I have literally seen flyers posted in Southern Baptist churches exorting actions that don't just approach the church-state threshold, but barrel right over it. The evangelical-political marriage of convenience is threatening to anyone who doesn't toe the evangelical's party line. If evangelicals wish to spread the word of Jesus, they should seek to do so in a way that doesn't co-opt the government to do it for them. The country that Southern Baptists want to establish is a frightening vision to behold.
I give you an A+++ just like on Ebay.You said it well. Just look at the way they attacked Mitt Romney for being a Mormon. What Hypocrites.
YES! next question!
No more Southern evil war mongering presidents and politicians wrecking this country.
"...We’re dangerous only to those who want more secular voices to have a virtual monopoly in public life."
Secular, as in not promoting a particular belief as part of one's role in public office, is exactly what public (i.e., government) roles should be. Separation of church and state is what this country was founded on!
So, yeah, you and your deluded ilk are quite dangerous, as you threaten to destroy our freedom of (and from) religion.
ALL religion should be BANNED!!!
nicely written,they sure do come out with both barrells when you have faith.calling names ,twisting the truth, rideculing ,wow.. if they dont believe in god,I wonder how come they go out of there way to attack those that do? for those that want to take god out of everything,I guess the good news for you is: he wont be in Hell either.....
Neither will anyone else, since it doesn't exist.
If your god is so weak that you need to have him present in a secular government for your faith to survive, he's not much of a god.
Evangelicals ARE dangerous.
They are dangerous to my rights as a gay person.
They don't keep their bigotry restricted to the confines of their churches.
They lobbied HARD against a civil unions bill in the legislature of my state and almost killed it.
They have lobbied against my right to gamble in my home state. .
They have lobbied against my right to die, if I am terminally ill and suffering a great deal (opposing a "Death with Dignity" law that my state's legislature was considering.
And they are in the pocket of the GOP party in my state.
And that is enough reasons to dislike them.
>>>"And they are in the pocket of the GOP party in my state"
You mean the same GOP that pushed through the legal channels to get Don't Ask Don't Tell overturned? You know, when the DEMs and Obama left te LGBT community out to dry when the they had the presidency and both houses of congress?
You mean those GOP? Wow seems that not only do the DEMs have the African American community fooled they have pockets of liberals fooled as well :(
The sad thing is that this article was written in the context of an evangelical bad-mouthing Mormonism, when one thing both sets of fairy tales agree on is that gays are evil and should be discriminated against — and they're willing to put their money where their mouths are!
Democrats haven't been very good, at all, to the gay community, but at least they literally aren't actively trying to limit their rights. Republicans actually have
"Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-s-x “marriages” licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage. "
As part of their 2008 party platform. Forget Democrats being bad, they still aren't the GOP.
"My Take: Are evangelicals dangerous?"
Look at the shear number of tragedies and atrocities committed against your fellow man throughout all of history, all in the name of one god or another and rethink asking that refukintarded question...
Stalin killed the 30 million or so in the name of communism. Mao killed more in the name of, well, communism. Hilter killed 14 million people in the name of the aryan race. History is rife with killers who do so for some purported higher cause. Simply labeling evangelicals (and by extension all Christians) killers because evil individuals perverted the name of Christ for their own cause is disingenuous as well as idiotic.
How similar are these days with Noah's days few thousand years ago!!
Noah called for God's judgment day was coming and almost no one believed him until it came, Jesus is calling for sinners to come back and very few responding his call ...
Mr Collin, the living God Christians are calling for is not the one you are describing, He never burn people in eternal hell but He respect their (including your) choice to believe or not in Him ...
Mr. Peter, sorry your information re the Bible history is not accurate neither backed by references. May be a good idea to spend few minutes on http://www.bible-history.com to enlighten your information!
Every blessing our nation received is because it was built on Christian foundation, no wonder why all this devastation taking place in our nation, morally economically and in every other aspect, after reading those replies and realize how we are drawing away from the very God who blessed us in the past and made us who we are!!
BTW .. All what is happening are Biblical fact too ... for those who are doubting the Bible without even reading it and know what is it about !!
I have three versions. Not only do they contradict each other each version contradicts itself.
Oh, I've read a good decent bit of the bible to know that even if I ignore how ill-founded the entire book is, the god as described in the bible is a major @ ss hole. I mean a major one. Seriously, "provide me with sycophantic praise or I doom you to an eternity of suffering". As far as I'm concerned, your version of heaven is about the perfect description of hell for me.
But I'm lucky I suppose that the entire thing is a fantasy. There was no noah, there was no great flood... no matter how much you wish to believe.
Instead of trying to find truth in that book, why don't you try to find truth in nature around you? Start doing science, start investigating and questioning. You'll find questions are more satisfying to answer when you don't already assume you know the facts.
Baloney piled higher and deeper is still baloney. This nation isn't "built on Christianity", you ignorant boob. It's built on a foundation of laws that protect our individual rights.
Attempting to rewrite history only works if you keep those you're addressing ignorant and stupid. You crazies are doing quite well in that department. Dumb and dumber.
Concerning the fanatical atheists Albert Einstein pointed out:
“Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who – in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium for the people’ – cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims.” (Albert Einstein, as cited in Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology, Princeton University Press, 2002, 97)
“In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.” (Albert Einstein, as cited in Clark 1973, 400; and Jammer 2002, 97).
'There was no noah, there was no great flood'
There probably was since a guy with a similar name appears in Sumerian stories about a great flood but the Sumerian stories are more of 'a guy on a boat who overcomes a terrible and unexpected flood caused by a evil Sumerian god' rather than the 'saves all of the animals and the human race from an angry Christian god' variety.
I would guess the real Noah happened to be a skilled boatsman who got lucky during a huge flood and happened to have a good PR man.
I always find it curious that True Believers always speak of a LOVING God but have no problem with the most sadistic archfiend of all time drowning EVERY LIVING THING ON THE ENTIRE PLANET* because he had his undies in a bunch over being disrespected. An egotist like that cares for other living creatures only to the extent that they continue to stroke his gigantic sense of self-importance. What a dick!
*according to their own holy book, except for a small coterie of ass-kissers who benefitted from insider information
There seem to be a lot of reading the bible and totally missing the point of it as far a I can tell. They just use it to support their version of hatred and bigotry and forget all that love-your-neighbor nonsense. That Christians (among others) founded this country misses the point entirely. They were running from Christians who were trying to impose their particular version of Christianity on everyone. I'm sure that a lot of these were Evangelicals, but these modern day political Evangelicals seem more like the kind they were running from.
Whether Einstein liked it or not, he was an atheist. Spinoza's god is nothing like the god that theists typically tout, and he never indicated any belief beyond the universe he so greatly admired. God was the universe, and the universe god. So, he may not have liked atheists, but he was one nonetheless.
But as far as physicists go from back then, I always preferred Dirac's philosophy. At least his atheism wasn't dressed up in religious language. And Feynman's philosophy was even better, as it was both reductionist, and dogmatic in a 'well why entertain silly concepts' kinda way.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.