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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. Losemyjob

    For several years i have worked with and around these people in their organizations. While basically decent folk, they also are single issue in the extreme, citing abortion as the ONLY thing that counts. They repeatedly fall for phoney or crazy preachers and other leader/authors who lead double lives. And they live in a very black and white world where everything will fall into place once abortion is made illegal. Because they live in a top-down paternalistic system, they cannot understand that abortion is not going away and will not be changed with legal challenges. And they often seem to have a disdain for those already born who are in trouble, especially if they are in the "lower classes." Beware.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  2. lefty avenger

    Lots of us americans don't believe in this wacky cult. It's not that we don't believe in God or that Jesus was a nice guy, it's that these people are religious zealot nut jobs. Evangelicals are the american taliban.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • steve

      Think what you want, I am a normal kid. It seems though that in being accepting of others that you have forgotten to being accepting of others. Something that OUR nation was founded on.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  3. luis

    A small mind leaves no room for doubt

    October 16, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • jeff

      Exactly. Which is why science encourages questioning and doubt at every step of the process, on a continuous basis. Religion has it right and thats all there is to it... right.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Zach

      Many of our greatest minds were religious. Many still are. Atheism vs Theism is not an IQ thing, much as Atheists love to paint it that way.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  4. jeff

    Just a reminder to all of the atheists out there, have a little patience with the believers. It's so easy to pick one source, not really understand it , and listen to whichever interpreter makes you feel best. It takes a bunch of work to learn about how things really work (you know – math, physics, biology, geology, astronomy...). Who wouldn't rather be able to dismiss millenia of hard won knowledge in favor of some comfortable, baseless, philosophy? Grab a beer, say "praise Jesus" and all's right with the world...

    October 16, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • LOL

      ^^ Must be nonpracticing Catholic. i can live with that.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • jeff

      Nah. Just one of those sarcastic atheist types.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  5. kimsland

    Its Sunday you Christians better get off to church or you'll go to hell.
    And I think I see a witch trying to steal your baby!
    Ha Ha Ha ha ha
    Oh my lordy me, religious people are fools.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  6. alsmithee

    So by his own arguments Albert should enjoy living in Saudi Arabia.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  7. twiddly

    So evolution should be questioned as real science because the majority in this country question it?
    Wow, that's as logical as... your religious beliefs!

    At one time the majority believed the earth was flat, the sun revolved around the earth, slavery was ok...
    But hey, if it's the majority then we should accept it as truth.

    This would be funny, if it weren't so dangerous. Yes, ignorance is dangerous.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • steve

      Ignorance is a two sided coin.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  8. John

    It's about time that someone understood how dangerous extreme Christians are!!

    October 16, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • W.G.

      You mean versus some of the great atheist of history stalin. polpot , hitler mao these guys killed millions and millions of people .
      I don´t think you would know a Christian if you tripped over one .

      October 16, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • chrisg

      WG, hitler was a christian. google it

      October 16, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • twiddly

      Hey W.G. - how about the crusades and the inquisition?
      All of the world wars and other atrocities pale in comparison to the christian-led slaughters.

      The despots you mention were indeed terrible, and should be condemned, but so should the catholic church and you leave that out.

      Any killing is wrong no matter the reason, but you seem to think if it's done by christians then it must be ok because "god is on our side". Pretty pathetic.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """must be ok because "god is on our side". """

      Funny you should say that, considering W.G.'s ignorance of history. The German Wehrmacht (Hitler's troops) wore the phrase "Gott mit uns" (God is with us) on their belt buckles.

      Good thing for them that godless Catholic Hitler didn't know about it!

      October 16, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  9. Brownstain

    I used to be all messed up on drugs, now I'm allessed up on jeeeeeeeeeeesus!

    October 16, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • LOL

      but wouldn't it be best to be messed up on jesus drugs?

      October 16, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Brownstain

      Like Rick Perry is?

      October 16, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • LOL

      Perry's retarded, not stoned. We could only get so lucky for him to just be stoned.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  10. Zach

    Evangelicals are dangerous. Roughly 14.86% as dangerous as liberals.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • SNAPPA

      Just remember it was a bunch of dangerous liberals that created the United States of America and you should be greatful for that.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Zach

      Liberals by their day's standards, sure. Liberal by today's standards? Nowhere close.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  11. SaintGenesius

    If you could reason with religions people, there would be no religions people.

    These people believe in magic, and if you believe in magic you will believe anything.

    Their leaders deny everything.

    They deny science, they deny history, they even deny mathematics.

    Are evangelicals dangerous? Yes, for the very reasons stated by writers here, because they are a majority; a majority that believe in magical outcomes rather than science and mathematics.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • George

      They are only dangerous because they do not live the word to which they pay lip service.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Zach

      Before science, magic occupied its niche for a hundred thousand years.

      During which suicide was nearly nonexistent, despite difficult and dirty lives, there was no man-made environmental problem, and human were more connected with the natural world than ever again.

      Magic took us from apes to civilization. Science took us from there. Science's achievements are relatively few, and the damage its done relatively high.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  12. Nunya

    IThat's nice that Evangelical Christians seem to care so much about unborn children. It would be even nicer if they cared a little more about people once they were born. For the record, I am a Christian. However I have found over the course of my life that the vast majority of Christian's I have met are judgemental and, like the author, have a serious persecution complex. Or they are out of touch because they are too busy sending money to corrupt preachers for TBN prayer clothes supposedly touched by Jesus, but really made through sweat shop labor.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • steve

      I think that many Christians are judgmental of themselves. I don't know about other people, I think it is sad. I find myself as more naive to the world. I grow up in the church and don't see the world out there with so many things out there.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  13. amalasan

    "Where knowledge ends, religion begins"

    October 16, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  14. ron4152

    These people are no different from those that brought down the Twin Towers. Their bible tells them its OK to kill those that believe differently. "Religious" people have scared me since I was a little boy. Their belief in fairy tales and failure to recognize that the bible was written by human beings and they all had an agenda.
    No wonder the country seems to be going downhill. They fight for a fetus to be born and then they are on their own. No help for the homeless or those requiring medical help but have no insurance. Hypocrite is too mild.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  15. capitalismsucks

    the "liberals" couldn't care less about whether the "pro-life evangelicals" want to have abortion done on themselves or not.

    the "liberals" couldn't care more about whether the "pro-life evangelicals" want to impose their own wishes on the others.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • LOL

      that's funny if you read it with the double-negation.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  16. glossolalia

    "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."

    The majority of Americans are very, very uneducated. Let's let the scientists get on with it while the rest of you have X-Factor-watching parties.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • amalasan

      Thats because its become a badge of honor to be willful ignorant. Republicans know that educated people see throw their smoke and push and push to keep people stupid. And not to mention cheap labor.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  17. ryan

    So, evangelicals want to send everyone who takes a "morning after pill" to the electric chair for murder. No? Thats what you're saying by "advocating for the unborn at every stage of development". Evangelicals dont just question evolution, they actively subvert it using dishonest tactics, misinformation, perpetuation of myth and ignorance (like saying "evolution teaches that a frog gave birth to a human" etc.) . Evangelicalism teaches that all humans who are not the strictest form of evangelical will burn in hell for eternity with no possibility of relief. How exactly is that NOT a dangerous idea to a civilized society? Teaching that "most people" are nothing but fuel for hells fire is a short step away from the dehumanization we saw during the Nazi era. These are only a few of the reasons why evangelicalism is a dangerous, relatively modern cult.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  18. Engineer in Raleigh

    I love how this article completely ignores the often-repeated GOP talking point (and blatant lie) "America is a Christian Nation", or the never-ending "Christian" jihad against gay people. Maybe if you "Christians" could honestly face up to what you represent, you'd understand why you're disliked by mainstream society.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  19. Cat

    Sorry, but you are very very dangerous. The ultra conservative religious fanatics are this countries terrorists. I believe everyone has the right to practice their own religion. But with these people, it is their way or the highway. I do not want my life run by some ultra conservative religious fanatic. If it works for you great, but leave me and my family out of it. The bible teach tolerance, but these ultra conservative religious fanatics tolerant nothing.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  20. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Yes, evangelicals represent the majority of Americans because they believe in God, unlike the minority secularists... Of course, we don't really want to count muslims amongst us as also believing in God... And Catholics aren't truly American Christian either... And we all know only republicans can truly be evangelical Christians... And only small town America is real America... Heck, Sarah Palin is the only true American evangelical Christian!
    Exclude, exclude, exclude! That's all what this religious showing off is all about. Evangelicals want to feel superior to others by excluding those who don't agree with them 100%, and they use their narrow interpretation and cherry-picking of the Bible to justify their own sense of superiority.
    Funny... Christ himself told us to worhsip in private and to turn the other cheek. In addition, protestantism was founded on the very principle that each person should be able to interpret the Bible for themselves and not let others tell them what to do. America itself was founded by Deists who kept their religion private and out of government.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • LOL

      I'd rather deal with Catholics any day than Evangelicals. They get off the porch when I ask them to.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:06 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.