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. RichardSRussell

    "What is so scary about America’s evangelical Christians?"
    Ha ha! Joke, right? That's like asking what's so scary about Alzheimer's. Same result: You get to lose your mind.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  2. Hank

    I believe evangelical fundamentists are a clear and present danger to our country,to our world.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  3. AdmrlAckbar

    Are polarized belief stories always good for constant web traffic ca$h?
    *shakes magic 8-ball

    "all signs point to yes"!

    October 16, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  4. Colin

    Evangelicals are like a mob. Individually, they are harmless, if irritating, fools. Once they get together, howevr, they have the potential to influence politics, which is where the real danger lies. Imagine, for example, the author of this article with real political power! No more evolution in school, mandatory shcool prayer, women reduced to being glorified breeding machines for men.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • LOL

      they do that about 12 time zones east of where i'm sitting.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • El Flaco

      Yes they do, and I don't want to live in a Theocracy. The Bible means nothing to me. It is not the basis for government.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  5. Queen Lattice

    just keep your faith out of my life, and especially out of my uterus and we'll be ok. start telling me that i'm not moral enough because i don't believe in your god and houston, we have a problem

    October 16, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  6. Bellestarrr

    God deliver us from the evangelicals..these people are absolutely without a doubt crazy...they should be like the mormans and just go about their business and stay out of government...government and laws are for everyone and shouldnt benefit them..they should benefit everyone...they can do what they want and say what they want in their churches...the minute they get political they should lose their tax exempt status...that would shut them up immediately...and millionaires like the Rev smarmy face Mohler will be absolutely furious and really on the rag....their sheep(bibilical as well as literal) seem like they dont have a brain or logic to reason things out.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • LOL

      I find them humorous at best, especially if you show them something like an Ethiopian Orthodox bible (one which WAS NOT edited by the council at Nicea) they go absolutely insane. well. more insane. comparatively i guess.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  7. John Galt

    History shows that too many outrageous deeds have been performed in the name of religion. It
    is very dangerous to allow any faith-based decision making in government. People of faith have their judgement clouded by unsubstianted beliefs and should not be in positions of authority.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • LOL

      /whois Jesus_Christ

      October 16, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  8. El Flaco

    The difference between me and Evangelicals is that I am no threat to their freedom. I do not want to forbid them from doing anything they are currently doing. However, Evangelicals want to censor my literature, prevent my daughter from getting an abortion if she wants one, make their particular version of Christianity the state religion, allow our planet to be destroyed by global warming, tell students that Evolution is one of many theories, censor scientific findings so that they conform to the Old Testament, etc. IF they gain power, this will only be the beginning for them.

    They are a frightening group. They are not loving, but hateful. Their Christ is a scary god. I want no part of him.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  9. Bobby Fischer

    Sometimes I slip on my shiiit. i am incontenenatntntt.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  10. kimsland

    My Take: Are evangelicals dangerous?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>> YES <<<<<<<<<<<

    October 16, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Radu

      Please explain to me why do you believe Christians are so dangerous? What they did to you?

      October 17, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  11. Saturn

    Religion always makes me think of that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where some members of the Enterprise (and their 24th century technology) accidentally gets revealed to a primitive civilization of humanoids called the Mintakans, whose development is at roughly the same point as humans were in the Bronze Age.

    The Mintakan people all begin worshiping Captain Picard as a god. Even after he reveals that he is simply a human with more advanced technology, they still beg him to bring back to life several Mintakans who had been killed in a flood the year prior, believing he has supreme supernatural powers over life and death.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • LOL

      religion just makes me think. and then i /facepalm.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  12. Mopper

    Shame on you. Yoiu relativist hypocrits at CNN. I am no evangelical, but you wouldn't dare post an article 'Are Muslims Dangerous'. We all know the answer to that even if CNN tip toes around it

    October 16, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  13. mike

    LOL...the guy that wrote this article about Evangelical Christians not being dangerous....is an Evangelical Christian

    October 16, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  14. SomeoneOutHere

    "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"

    In the bible, life doesn't begin until birth, "breathe with nostrils". The unborn is considered a part of the woman's "body function", like a heart or a lung. Until the unborn breathes on it's own, it is not a "person" until it does.

    Taking a stance that life begins at conception is anti-Xtian because it is a scientic view, not a bibilcal view.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • Evangelical Christians are the devil

      so we need to make evangelicals see that it's OK to abort babies...as long as they can't breathe. The casey anthony verdict WAS right...

      October 16, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Anthony

      So if you oppose abortion you hate scientific thought? How absurd. Scientific thought changes very rapidly. When you go to school to train as a scientist, as I did, you realize that theories change based on new evidence, findings thought patterns etc.. I oppose abortion because of rational thought. You can't destroy a life period, especially if your life is not harmed in any way.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Bohoco

      Often people who believe that an unborn child is "part of the body of the mother" do not realize that it often has a different blood type, sometimes causing the mother's immune system to produce antibodies harmful to future children (RH factor). This fact alone should convince anyone that an unborn child is a unique human being.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • Reason

      if you want to be scientific then determination the START of life the same way you determine its END...brainwaves and/or heartbeat. This would be somewhere between week 3 and 8. However, we determine life inconsistently as is so common to the secular worldview. Also, it's interesting in many locations killing a pregnant woman is considered a double murder even if the fetus wasn't VIABLE....amazing logic on display once again.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  15. taylor

    i think they should pay tax's like everyone else, period!

    October 16, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • Evangelical Christians are the devil

      AND They should pay EVERYONE's taxes FOR us. THose rich basssstards.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  16. PJ

    I would equate Evangelicals with the Islamic Fundamentalists. They are so judgemental if they could inflct ham on those who oppose their beliefs they would. They are claim that all who don't embrace JC are doomed to not enter heaven. Every country has its group of nuts. I guess these are ours.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • herbert juarez

      Is there cheese to go with the ham?God bless

      October 16, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  17. casey

    many things Christians fail to realize is that a secular society is the only society that allows for religious freedom. that is why, contrary to untruthful convention, america is based on secularism, not a Judea-christian philosophy. And the founding fathers intended it this way. Because for people such as myself who see no reason to subscribe to any of the christian dogmas, are free to live as they please, without having a christian theology placed upon them.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:18 am |
    • Quigley

      Great point!

      October 16, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Anthony

      Religious freedom isn't based on secularism. Looking at these comments it is evident that secular people deem religious people to be dangerous, evil and ignorant. They believe that religion is the root cause of all that is bad. They don't realize that all that is bad is generated by ignorance and a desire for power. Secularism is not devoid of these two qualities. True religious freedom comes from allowing people to practice their beliefs even if it offends you. That doesn't happen in secular societies. In secular societies religious beliefs are scorned. It doesn't happen in theocracies either where the church runs the state. It only happens in tolerant societies that don't ban religious articles and opinions with roots in religion.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Reason

      I agree BUT secularism isn't a removal of religion from locations but instead an equalizing of all religions. The problem secularists get into is the belief that REMOVAL of all religion produces equality. That presumption is false because it still leaves a belief system represented, atheism. However, if ALL religions and beliefs are attempted to be recognized alongside each other, scrutinized in light of each other INCLUDING atheism THEN you get the state the nation was intended to become. This highlights the diversity and thereby BEAUTY of this country. Instead we privatize, minimize, and 'secularize' all things when a VAST majority of people in this country are religiously affiliated. Respect can only be gained through integration not segregation...too bad some of us still haven't learned this.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  18. Karloff

    Anyone who believes in a nonexistent being and then bases their actions upon this belief is dangerous.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • Evangelical Christians are the devil

      what about santa claus?

      October 16, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • Midleground

      Santa is an anagram for Satan, think about that for a second.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Da King

      Ya, like Martin Luther King, Ab Lincoln, Christopher Columbus and George Washington. All bible believers. They contributed nothing, right?

      October 16, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  19. TomD

    Yet another new rash of articles from the left leaning media to demonize, poke fun at and trash the right and GOP contenders....pathetic, and it aint workin....just sayin.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Quigley

      I take it you didn't actually read the article, which was written by a "true believer."

      "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."

      October 16, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • Midleground

      "Aint" is not a word.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • Quigley

      According to Albert Mohler (the author of this article) Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Marxism are "demonstration[s] of satanic power." (I'm certain you'll agree with that.)

      No sir, Albert Mohler is one of you, alright. He's only feigning sanity in order to get published on CNN. And of course the right leaning fringe (which you so nicely represent) isn't even happy about that, which proves that you (and most others on the Christian right) are ignorant, stubborn, and dangerous.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  20. Cybersport

    The problem ids not what Christians believe.. and I consider myself a Christian, though certainly not an evangelical one... the issue is that evengelicals want to turn this country into a theocracy... and believe that those who have different religious beliefs should be treated as second-class citizens, including Jews, gays and lesbians, etc.

    This nation is not a Christian one, nor was it ever intended to be. Raising your children according to Biblical principles is fine... but legislating according to those principles is not.

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

      I couldn't agree more. I see absolutely no difference between Christian extremist and Islamic extremest.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Mike

      I too consider myself a christian and agree wholeheartedly with your statement. I find it disingenuous to say in one breath that no man can know the will/thoughts of god, but then claim that all other beliefs are wrong and you know the "real " truth. It seems to me those who scream the loudest have a very tough time turning the mirror on themselves. The golden rule is treated like a suggestion and sins like sloth, glutony, apathy and pride are rampant in areas populated by the "chosen few"-seen the obesity maps of the US recently?

      October 16, 2011 at 7:29 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.