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. Gary

    Brainwashing! Organized religion is the ultimate brainwashing trying to make everyone believe their creation theory is the only one. There are many just as credible creation theories. Religions or belief suystems exist because they fulfill a need to belong that is universal to mankind. The downside is when the various belief systems start tearing each other apart by preaching that their's is the best. Religion isn't going away and we would be better off just accepting that idea.

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

      It's acceptable only if they are prevented from having any real power. They are neither intelligent enough nor emotionally stable enough to handle it.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  2. tfbuckfutter

    They are a threat to people who want to be free.

    For example, I have to wait until noon today to buy beer for this afternoon's football games. Why? Because some idiots go to church. Makes sense to me.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  3. J.J.J. Schmidt

    There has been more Christian terror committed in the US than Muslim terror. These people are VERY dangerous. And crazy.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  4. jg

    A majority of Americans do not question evolution. His statistic is based on a flawed survey in which the question was asked if people thought that mankind was created, in current form, by a god. The majority said yes.
    However, when the same people were asked of the basic tenets of evolution were correct they overwhelmingly said yes.
    Watch the christians. They are blatant liars.

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

      You misjudge them. They aren't lying, they're just stupid.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  5. Fran Drake

    I have been a Christian all of my life, yes raised evangelical in the Deep South, but these people even scare me. Not because of who they might vote for or support, but for their crazy, irrational behaviors. Carrying guns to see the president, and the anger. I'm not sure where this anger fits in with Christianity...I look at these people and don't know what makes their actions Christian.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  6. kimsland

    Religious ridiculous.
    Poof and you're gone.

    These fairy tale believers will be scared now.
    Watch out, witch behind you, and your god wants you to burn because you're not perfect.


    October 16, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Josh

      There are fools among us everywhere... both Atheists and Christians. Do not over-generalize and assume that all Christians are witch burning bigots. The fact is that car burninng Anarchists are a part of the Atheist crowd as well.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  7. Elizabeth Stanton

    The poor misunderstood fundamentalist. They are always hiding behind their version of the Bible but they are no different than any other Extremist group. They brainwash both young and old minds and are collectively, nothing more than cultist hate groups. When CNN or any "news" outlet gives one of them a platform to expouse how "misunderstood" they are, it only serves to give another group of extremist credibility. If we mainstream Christians fail to denounce them, we fail as protectors of all humanity.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Josh

      What did he say that is so extremist Elizabeth? Did he say we should stone the adulterers, or burn the heretic? No! He simply expoused his belief in traditional marriage and opposition to abortion. Why is it that everyone thinks the "other side" should not have a right to their opinion?! Until we as humans start realizing that reasonable minds can differ, we're going to be stuck making irrational statements about "them" and thinking that anyone who doesn't believe like them is "evil".

      October 16, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • No One Is Safe

      @josh – they're certainly enti.tled to their opinion that abortion and gay marriage are wrong. nobody's trying to tell them they *must* think differently.

      it's the fact that they are trying to tell the rest of us that *we* must live by *their* beliefs that elicits the ire of all those who do not march in lockstep with their beliefs. their attempts to legislate their morality upon the rest of us is what we find so abhorrent.

      October 28, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • No One Is Safe

      oh... and the word is "espoused". (either that or "exposed", but that would be a very odd usage of that word, at best.)

      October 28, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  8. AnaJuana

    True Christians are "no part of the world" and do NOT participate in "debates over words" or get involved in politics. Just as Jesus did not get involved in the politics of the first century. True Christians also do NOT believe that Jesus is God the Father, but instead believe, as the Bible clearly states, that he is "the son of God". John 15:19; 1 Tim 6:3,4; John 1:34

    October 16, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • No One Is Safe

      do you have a sister named "mary"?

      October 28, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  9. joltseminars

    Mohler basically points out the lack of tolerance for Christianity in our so-called pluralistic society. The secular perspective is trying to claim the public area as their own exclusive domain. Theists need to keep their ideas to themselves. Christian naysayers border on abusive in their hatefulness. It’s time for some real “tolerance.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • zazu

      I am an evangelical and I deeply support secularism as the best option for the public square. I further more believe secularism is the biblical position. It is ironic for Mohler, a southern baptist-who founded themselves on a very anti christian, anti gospel cause, would play the victim here just like the Perry campaign who yell persecution after attacking Romney themselves. It is the most antichristian behavior that I see from those who would like to carry the evangelical banner. My fear with evangelicals is not about mere politics it is about it bringing continous blemish on the claims of the gospel. check if you would the issue of Clarence Jordan, who was a graduate of Southern Seminary (Mohler's seminary) vs the Southern baptists to see how unchristian they really are. These people are conservatives, who claim to be Christians as opposed to Christians who may also happen to be conservatives. Big difference!

      October 16, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • joltseminars

      Zazu- please develop that biblical secularism thing. I would be interested in your references and logic or illogic, whatever the case may be.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  10. marianne

    Religion is the root of ALL evil. Without it there would be no wars. Be a good person help others and animals , make a difference .. No need to drag any god into it since there is no god..

    October 16, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • joltseminars

      Marianne didn't read her history. What about the ugly face of atheism? Remember Adolf Hitler? Stalin? Mao Zedong? The Khmer Rouge? hum. . . thought not.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Brad

      "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."
      ... Adolf Hitler

      October 16, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Josh

      Are you crazy? There would be no wars or evil if not for religion? None? The American Revolution, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and countless conflicts throughout history... are you going to argue all of those were purely due to religion? I'll never cease to be amazed how "intelligent" people who believe that a belief in God is only for the weak minded can make such silly generalizations. Atheism is clearly not reserved for the intelligent and elite... but based on the comments on this bored it is reserved for the arrogant and closeminded.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Remember Adolf Hitler?"""

      Stop it. Just stop lying, please.

      Hitler was catholic.

      Here, want proof? google "wehrmacht"
      Now, google "gott mit uns"

      Stop lying.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • joltseminars

      Jeff, OK I read Mein Kampf and other historical pieces on Adolf. Here's the scoop:

      Hitler was raised Catholic. He eventually abandoned Catholicism and adopted what he termed a "hard struggle". These were ideas steeped in social Darwinism and Nietzsche. He admired Jesus for what he believed was his persuasive ability (propaganda). But, he thought Jesus was tained with a Jewish "effeminate pity ethic." Again, this is Nietzsche's slave ethics with a racist twist.

      Publicly, Hitler espoused religion for the masses. Privately and candidly he spoke of his desire to replace Christianity with an Aryan paganism and his own quest for the Übermensch.

      "The peasant will be told what the Church has destroyed for him: the whole of the secret knowledge of nature, of the divine, the shapeless, the demonic...We shall wash off the Christian veneer and bring out a religion peculiar to our race.”

      There’s the naturalist in him. He believed the Aryan race had developed farther down the evolutionary tree. He was keen to eliminate what he believed were social/genetic cripples (i.e. Jews). Hum, wasn’t Jesus Jewish?

      "The gap between the lowest, still so-called human being and our highest races is greater than that between the lowest man and the highest ape," – Die Reden Hitler's am Reichsparteitag, 1933 (Munich, 1934). p.33

      Adolph Hitler: "I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality.I want young people capable of violence imperious, relentless and cruel."

      Doesn’t sound very Christ like does it?

      October 17, 2011 at 1:58 am |
  11. Punisher2000

    Of course, you are right, while the World is wrong. Drop kick!

    October 16, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  12. CEL1

    Our Brother Al forgets book burnings, witch trials and inquisitions that would be heaped upon the people. And he also forgets that separation of church and state is to protect the churches from taxation. And that reminds, I need to start calling my congressperson ans senators and the prez and IRS and start a campaign to tax churches just like other corporations. And you know, they send all this money to 3rd world countries whose leaders support terrorism, they need to be investigated for that, too.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  13. Rich

    The obvious solution to this problem is massive tax cuts for the super rich.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • W.G.

      You´d be suprised at the number of the rich who are Atheists .

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

      Priests don't pay taxes.
      They are not of our society. They live in a deluded world of fairy tales.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  14. AnimSyntax

    One thing is for certain. Evangelicals are annoying as hell, especially when they claim with their annoying self righteousness that you are going to hell.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Josh

      You clearly haven't read most of the comments on this board... it's not the Christians making arrogant and derogatory comments. It's the Atheists making riduculous over-generalizations and assuming that everyone should believe the same as them.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  15. Don

    And the Waaaaahmbulance sirens are running. Sounds like Al is just pouting because he can't use the government to force his religion on others.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  16. Obama Bin Badagin

    While it's true that the US is becoming an intolerant, fundamentalist theocracy, it's also true that it's becoming a ghettoized, cess-pool of crime. In short the US is beginning to resemble a third-world failed state (with nuclear weapons of course). The change in the US was palpable after 9/11 and caused me and many others I know to move back to England. It's not perfect here of course but it's more evolved and feels like civilization.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Punisher2000

      Wow! Another Pommie snob. Good ridance. Stay there.

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

      Glad you moved back to England. It probably raised the average I.Q. of both countries.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Mike

      The US started going down teh drain in the 60s when the hippies appeared. We had Johnson to start Medicare and the whole welfare state mentality.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """It probably raised the average I.Q. of both countries."""


      October 16, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  17. cbcard

    I live less than a mile from Mohler. I drive by his 10,000 square foot mansion almost daily, the one lit up with floodlights at night. I assure you he lives only in the right wing.

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

      The short answer to his question is yes, they are dangerous. Any extremist viewpoint is dangerous, what is the difference between evangelicals and islamists? Is there one? Evangelicals warn of Islamists trying to turn the US into an Islamic state only because that would interfere with them turning it into a Christian state.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Nothing New Under The Sun

      don't be jealous. It's not healthy.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • joltseminars

      to Nilsjames-

      Muslims sometimes call non-Muslims, infidels. Some Muslims think that if the infidels will not convert, they should be coerced or killed. It’s called Jihad. Their duty becomes the victims tragedy.

      Jesus is different. He calls but he never coerces. Rev 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."

      With Jesus, you’ll get an invitation, but never an arm-twisting.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  18. Nothing New Under The Sun

    Atheists: The happiest miserable people on the planet. poor things.

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

      Religious people, fools who worship fairy tales, and they make me point and laugh at them.
      I point and laugh at your foolish beliefs.
      Ha Ha Ha

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

      We have bacon, beer, hispeed net girliez, gambling, and jean claude van dame movies to keep us entertained. You're clearly thinking of Islam.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Punisher2000

      Of course, you are right and the World is wrong. Drop kick!

      October 16, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • J Houston

      Christians: most deluded beings of all life on earth – and proud of it

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

      We are not miserable at all. We are free, not slaves to silly tales spun 2000 years ago by demented desert dwellers. Wake up and smell what you're living in!

      October 16, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Nothing New Under The Sun

      @Punisher2000. But of course you are right. and the Drop kick sealed it for you.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  19. Punisher2000

    Evangelicals, like Jihadists, are extremist fanatics. To them, killing in the name of the Lord, has always been valid. Taking the Bible literally is also a must. They are the only ones who are going to be saved, along with12,000Jews from each of the 12 tribes. The one true God spoke to us in different ways and different times. Christians, Jews and Muslims share the same God. So a lot of us might be believing in the truth in our own way. How do you like them apples?

    October 16, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Nothing New Under The Sun

      Apples? No! Idiotic drivel? Yes!

      October 16, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Josh

      Why the offensive rhetoric? I am a Christian and do not believe in killing for religion. In fact, many Christians are pacifists. How is your speech any different from that which you are railing against?

      As humans, we need to realize that reasonable minds can differ, and not assume everyone must come to the same conclusion as us.

      Read the comments on this board. Most of the comments by Atheists are close-minded and arrogant. C'mon people! Christian or non-Christian, let's at least try to be civil and understand each others viewpoints.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  20. Wow

    stupid artical- let's go back to pagaenism then we'll all be happy- won't have to worry about those cranky pesky christians. idiots

    October 16, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Punisher2000

      OK, let`s do that. I will believe in Oscar. Nice looking Idol. We will hold a once a year meeting in Hollywood and chose the best actor

      October 16, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • wow?

      idiots? please try spell check... seriously, "artical" mr. wow??? seriously???

      me afiest. me no like mr chris-chan's artical. me smart afiest.

      My athiest buddies Mao and Stalin going to go kill 100 million more people to serve our god "evolution" and his holy prophet Darwin. Long live Lord Evolution please bless the billion dead babies we have killed in the name of choice... Now where is prophet Dawkins when you need him?

      October 16, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • chrisg

      wow, you forgot to mention hitler. oh wait, Hitler was a christians. google it.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:36 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.