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My Take: Are evangelicals dangerous?
Many evangelicals want to ban abortion, but does that mean they want theocracy?
October 15th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Are evangelicals dangerous?

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (5,318 Responses)
  1. AvdBerg

    Friendship with the world and human nature is enmity with God and so are evengelicals and members of all religions. In fact they are enemies of the cross of Christ as they serve after a false Christ (Matthew 24:24). The Word of God teaches mankind in Revelation 12:9 that this whole world has been deceived. For a better understanding how and by whom mankind has been deceived, we invite you to read all the pages and articles of the website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
    Don't forget to read the article CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times

    October 16, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • LOL

      Here in camelot we like ham and jam and spamalot!

      October 16, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • Saturn

      The whole world has been deceived, and only Christians happen to be privy to the truth?

      That sounds awfully convenient.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • LOL

      now that you mention it, Privy wouldn't actually be too far from the truth. }:>

      October 16, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • Saturn

      oh wordplay

      October 16, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • LOL

      We're discussing an epic silly. wordplay is essential.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • W.G.

      To saturn – No it means we´ve read the instruction book and you atheist have´nt .

      October 16, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  2. Mike H.

    Snidely Whiplash...you appear to be confusing men for faith. Lots of men and women have used religion for personal gain. That speaks more about them than Christianity and in no way diminishes the value of the product when used as prescribed.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  3. John Richardson

    Evangelicals believe we re in the end times. I would trust NO decision requiring prudent judgment to those who believe everything is about to be destroyed by god anyway. Evangelicals believe that most people are going to suffer eternal torment for all eternity at the hands of a god they nonetheless call wise and just and loving and of course choose to worship. Such contempt for the welfare of others bespeaks as dangerous a mindset in Evangelicals and it does in Muslim Fundamentalists. Evangelicals feel that their holy book (at least on their always extremely selective reading of it) mandates not just how Christians should strive to live, but how everyone MUST live by force of law.

    The author's destructive mindset can be seen in his use of the term 'elites'. This is a term of contempt that Evangelicals and other conservatives have always used to disparage people who are simply well educated people of accomplishment.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • W.G.

      to J.Richardson – Actually we as Reborn christians do not believe the world is about to be destroyed the Bible specifically
      say " A world without end . I wish you Atheist and muslims would read the Bible and quit asking each other what it says
      you may get the correct word . What we believe is what Jesus said is that right before he comes back he said there will be earthquakes in various places and famines and wars and rumors of wars . you can find out more on what he said in
      Matthew 24

      October 16, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  4. kimsland

    In god I DON'T trust.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:08 am |
    • Radu

      same day , you will.

      October 17, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  5. George

    Fundametalists in all religions seem troubling be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish or whatever. They narrow great spiritual/religious ideals down to a few hot button issues, and consistently leave out the core ideas of compassion, brotherhood and love.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  6. pockaleelee

    The problem with evangelicals is not their views, it is the constant pushing of their views on the rest of us, the attempts to make all of us behave like them. The dismissal of the theory of evolution by evangelical kooks for a view of life creation with NO proof is just silly and stupid

    October 16, 2011 at 7:08 am |
    • PlayNice

      Exactly, here's what the author says: "Above all, evangelicals are those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and are most concerned about telling others about Jesus." Believe what you like, but leave the rest of us in peace. I don't want to buy a Lord anymore than I want to buy a new vacuum cleaner or a set of encyclopedias.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  7. Yang

    Evangelicals can do whatever they want with their own lives, marry whom they wish, bear all the children they wish, worship how ever they wish. However, when someone else's religion wants to dictate how I must live my own, personal life, I DO have a problem. Your religion is for you and those who believe like you. You have no right to push your morals or values on anyone else. I support people marrying whom they choose, worshiping who they choose, planning their families how they choose. I do not support people choosing those things for other people. I reject it completely.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  8. Saturn

    I always find it amusing that the all-powerful god of the universe needs a bunch of little humans to defend him. Doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in the whole omnipotence thing.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  9. TruthKeeper

    I BELIEVE CHRISTIANITY IS BEING ATTACKED BY OTHERS.
    Read "The Criminalization of Christianity: Read This Book Before It Becomes Illegal! [Hardcover]
    Janet L. Folger (Author)

    October 16, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • PlayNice

      Come on, others? If you're a true Godboy, you know it's being attacked by none other than – SATAN!

      October 16, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  10. Ruth

    you are nuts

    October 16, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  11. The Humanist

    I find it amusing that he thought he was helping his case by writing this article. Heh-heh..

    October 16, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  12. Quigley

    "The vast majority of evangelicals are not attempting to create a theocracy, or to oppose democracy." It's hard to believe this if the evangelists are the ones screaming at the top of their lungs.

    Christianity (like many other faiths) is a wonderful expression of spiritual belief for those that subscribe to it, but the hate and fringe fanatical rhetoric that attempted to appropriate our first amendment rights is a thing to be feared, monitored, and dealt with.

    Above all other things, Christians should respect others (indeed even the differences in how others interpret matters of the spirit), and they should have a reverence for the truth whatever shape it happens to take, because in all of creation, in all it's forms and manifestations, whether it's a mechanism for inheritance, the biochemistry of life, life's apparent descent with modification, or the fingerprints of dead or nascent stars, who are we to say how the hand of God (if one exists) guides our reality; whether it does so by calculated design, by purposeful randomization, by complete accident, or some design we have no knowledge of ability to comprehend.

    To ignore the truth in favor of a personal and blinding agenda, whether religious or scientific, is the ultimate act of human arrogance and an infringement upon those forces, whether spiritual or physical, that determine our existence.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • LOL

      You pegged most Christians I've met with paragraph 3. You've pegged every Evangelical I've ever met with the last one.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  13. Totoro0101

    Evangelical Christians are generally OK, when they get into the book burning thing or when strange fads sweep the churches they can be a pain in the butt. If you want to talk about dangerous religious groups that identify as Christian you will be looking for splinter groups that your Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc will also avoid like the plague. There will always be a certain population that will want to do illegal things and will want to dress up their actions as a calling to a higher purpose. That is not a condition of religion, that is a condition of humanity.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:02 am |
  14. b9fruits

    Yes, article is so true. And Christians are influenced by the Christian worldview of the Church they attend as well; each having a vision and mission in our global community. Also working out 'the good' together with other religions and all peoples helps everyone.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:02 am |
  15. Cajun_Dude

    I see the Evangelicals as the Taliban of the west.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • LOL

      Not really, Evangelicals shower.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  16. SandySunset

    born a catholic with sin. felt guilty all my life . Don't like it.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  17. ONE NATION UNDER GOD

    As Christians we just cannot accept everything. For example we know that marriage and reproduction can only be achieved by a man and a woman. We cannot accept anything else. Christians have to stand behind their faith or else we will fall back into where we were taken out from.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • LOL

      Judaism? *snicker*

      October 16, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • Quigley

      "... cannot accept anything else" or will not? In terms of the technology, it's theoretically possible that at some point it will not be necessary for men to be part of the reproductive process for humans, such that it's theoretically feasible that the DNA from one woman may be used to fertilize another. Indeed, it's not even necessary for that there be another woman, i.e., cloning, which has already been done in animals.

      Not wanting to accept a thing, and not acknowledging a thing exists are two very different things. You can oppose it on moral and ethical grounds, and we can have that discussion... but denying these things exist is disturbing, and an impediment to rational discourse.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • LOL

      I can clone you in my basement with stuff i can buy from walmart. That should kind of throw your theory about that off.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • John Richardson

      That marriage can only be "accomplished" by a man and a woman in many areas is a simple artifact of archaic law.

      Procreation requires a sperm cell and an egg cell and a place for the embryo to grow. Many gay couples have managed to have children and raise them. With all the children that straigh people produce outside of marriage, it's pretty ludicrous to suggest that monogamous heterose-xuality within marriage is vital for procreation.

      Moreover, Evangelicals get all sorts of weird when confronted with the obvious fact that humans are animals, but then act as though the whole purpose of adult life is procreation for its own sake, which is about as bestial an att-itude as you can assume.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  18. Hank

    I believe religion is the root of all evil in the world. I'm talking about fundamentism...and it's a danger in all of the religions, Think of all the wars based on some element of religion – 'nuff said.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  19. Terry

    Christians complain about taxes, and drop their hard earned money into the plate of folks telling them what they want to hear. If their god did create this mess, it is because he failed to get the proper permits before construction started.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • LOL

      Looking around, i'd say he went with the lowest bidder, as well.

      October 16, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  20. Greg56

    The next to last paragraph in your article is what really scares me Mr. Mohler.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:53 am |
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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.