home
RSS
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. ROC

    The problem is – many of you consider Christians as enemies – and you derive your opinion from the media – limited contact – and limited information. Your decisions therefore are emotional and biased. If you dislike a culture – group of people or whatever should you not know the true reason why by discovering on your own. "Know thy Enemy" cannot be accomplished on forums, reading CNN, FOX or Yahoo or based on casual encounters. You are acting with flawed information on many subjects if acting biased on one.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • angora

      Many of us have turned away from the evangelical sect because they have attacked us on airplanes, on street corners, at family gatherings, at Bible studies, and listening to radio stations devoted to propagating their myths. Many of us have educated ourselves on their beliefs and have concluded that they are mostly ignorant and abusive and their quest to build a theocracy must be thwarted.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • An Independent

      I don't think most people – even the atheists – consider all Christians to be enemies. I think the concern is about the radical fundamentalist Christians that seek to force their rigid ideas on everyone else. I think most people would agree that most Christians are generally decent people, sometimes excellent people, just as there are many decent and excellent Muslims. The people that are dangerous are the extremists in any religion and many people see that group gaining more and more influence in our country which is why there is so much angst.

      Many wise people have seen (in for example Iran) what a fundamentalist religious regime can do to a country and do not want to see that happen here with a different religion but the same overall results.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Will

      Not at all. I derive my opinion from those that stand on the street corners, or in the media, or a their Sunday services and consistantly and on a regular basis bash, degradate, name call, and demonize the gay and lesbian community. How many times do we see and hear from them their mean and evil justification that they are doing this in "Gods name". How many times have we seen Baptist leaders like this yo yo say and do nothing as it occures. How many times have they instilled bigotry against gay marriage in the name of God, how many times have evangelicals called for gay and lesbians to be denied the right and honor to defend this country. Every one of the GOP that is running for president has signed a oath or made a public statement against gay marriage. It does not take a master's degree to understand that they so for the evangelical votes and the effort is lead with the endorsement of the evangelical right. Foaming at the mouth, hypercritical, hysterical relgious leaders that want nothing more than a theocracy. Nice try from this guy but just another lie.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Matt

      I personally know a great many christians. I have also lost a good deal of old friends because my beliefs were not in line with the Christian faith they had. We agreed on a great many things before and still do. Except for religion and that is a personal choice. They say they are out to help all, but then turn their back as soon as you do not accept what they have to say on one topic in life.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Brad

      My friend ... you are a glittering jewel of colossal ignorance. I grew up in a family that was influenced by the Christian Reformed Church ... right-winged religious zealots. Like many others here, I derive my opinion from first hand experience. So, you can create all your smoke and mirrors ... but, the end result is just the same. You people have nothing. Christianity, in its current form, is already dead. It cannot survive this new age of readily available information and ease of communication with others in community. The battle has already been won. Were just seeing the dying remnants scream the last battles.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  2. Crusader

    The truth of the Bible is beyond question and every demon in Hell knows that Jesus is about to return and they are terrified about what the future holds for them. The only danger is to believe the lies of the enemy and to end up in eternal Hell Fires. I personally find both parties detestable and every election trying to decide about the lesser of two evils. Jim news flash for you...Heaven is a local call from Texas and long distance from everywhere else. Out of great trials come great victories and you will see the Christian peoples of Texas shine like the sun.....we are the salt of the Earth and it our intention to burn out coruption.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • angora

      Actually, if you study the history of the various books of the Bible that were written over many centuries, which books were voted to be included and which were voted out, as well as how the texts have been rewritten and misinterpreted over the centuries and how the texts were written from a primitive culture's perspective, you will understand why the Bible is not the word of God. God says so himself in Conversations with God. Good book.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Will

      Perfect example of moronic hate.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • An Independent

      "I personally find both parties detestable and every election trying to decide about the lesser of two evils."

      I agree with that part.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  3. The Voice of Reason

    Although the author makes some valid points, what he fails to recognize or acknowledge is that in the United States we are supposed to have a separation of church of state. This is to ensure that policy is made that is best for all Americans, regardless of their religious affiliations, and to prevent policy being made based on religious ideologies. We are supposed to be a country of inclusion, but what we're moving toward is exclusion. Whatever religion a politician ascribes to should be of no consequence; what should matter is that he or she should propose and support legislation that serves to benefit and/or protect *all* American citizens. The anti-science movement does not benefit but hinders our children. Science and religion are two entirely different things – you cannot use one to explain, support, or refudiate the other. No one would use math to refute to history, so the idea that religious belief is comparable to and can perform the same function as scientific knowledge, and vice versa, is ridiculous. Would you use a religious ritual to treat your child's ear infection or would you use antibiotics? Would you use the second law of thermodynamics to comfort you in a time of grief or would you turn to religious literature? It is time that we, as a nation, stop this nonsense. We have the potential to be great and set an example for the world of how a diversity of people can live together in harmony and respect while making great advances in the arts, sciences, and technology.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • ROC

      Not very well put – flaws in your argument positively indicate your dislikes.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  4. Matt

    Any time you mix that much religion with politics and social laws, to me it is very bad. This shold be what we all want, not just evangelicals. I am always wary of people who spout they are Christian.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  5. MarkC

    Whiny Evangelicals can get their op-eds printed at the top of CNN.com's webpage, bemoaning their "persecution." Call me when CNN prints an atheist's perspective in the same space.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • angora

      I was once persecuted by a bear because I wouldn't stop poking it with a stick. I demand a column bemoaning my victimization!

      October 16, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  6. mochica

    I am a Christian and I don't see how evangelicals (i.e. religious fanatics) are Christ-like at all. They always complain about the poor and how they aren't going to share their hard-earned (likely inherited) money with them. They are rarely approachable or kind in the least. Our duty as Christians is to do works of charity and kindness to others, yet many of these followers of Osteen, for example, believe that they should only worry about themselves (screw everyone else) and it doesn't matter how you live, you will be forgiven in the end. It's a very Calvinist rationale and completely misguided.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • angora

      I don't want to be there when evangelicals have to answer to God for advocating against universal healthcare. Morally bankrupt they are.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Matt

      I agree with you. They are not very open minded to anyone outside of their views. They are completely your either with us, or we want nothing to do with you. I am not an atheist btw. I just do not like when so called people of God say one thing, and do another.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Kelli Wilder

      I think you just answered your own concern...just because someone claims to be a Christian does not mean they are born again. I could claim to be ANYTHING but my words don't determine what I am. The Bible is clear that "you will know them by their fruits" (John 15)! If it looks like a Christian, talks like a Christian, acts like a Christian, and claims to be Christian then, well... you see where I'm going with this.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  7. Barry Kapilow-Cohen

    Yes evangelicals are dangerous. Secular voices ARE the only ones that should be heard in politics. Do we want tyranny byt the biggest religion! Do we want Muslims voting against Evangelicals agains Lutherans against Jews.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Kelli Wilder

      So, you're prejudice against anyone not like you? Wow...that's tolerance.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  8. Religious sects

    Insanity: "A mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality."
    Fantasy: "A genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting."
    Religion: "See previous definitions."

    October 16, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  9. yooper712

    Matter had to come from somewhere, the only explanation for this is divine being. If you disagree, explain to me how even the big bang theory is plausible without any elements.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • pfft

      i beg to differ, the only logical explanation for there being something rather than nothing is Jeff, the God of Biscuits.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • angora

      Your assumption that a man with a beard is the only explanation for matter is beyond reproach. I believe in God because I have had direct experiences of a higher force, but your logic is deeply flawed and does nothing to support your cause.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  10. Former Louisvillian

    Evangelicals ARE dangerous, and this man is as dangerous as they come, because they want to dictate the . I lived in Louisville for several years while he has been at the helm of the Southern Baptist Seminary. He doesn't want "secular voices to have a virtual monopoly in public life", because HE wants to be an absolute monopoly on all of life. As far as I can see, his view is that everybody must be a Christian and furthermore, his view of Christianity is the only acceptable one. Here's one of his best, and this quote was found at albertmohler.com:

    "When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral."

    I am personally way less afraid of Big Brother than I am of Big Al.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Former Louisvillian

      First sentence should have ended with "...way the rest of us live."

      October 16, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  11. Reed

    These people are nuts. Michelle Bachmann is nuts, Rick Perry is nuts...the author of this article is either nuts, naive, or engaging in propaganda. Possibly a combination of the three. Those other voices mentioned in the article are right, we are in very, VERY deep trouble with these people. The commenter who dew the comparison to the Taliban is not far off.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Former Louisvillian

      All three.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  12. JMK

    I'm sorry but I feel threatened by evangelicals when they try to force unscientific "theories" and questionable "history" into our schools. I feel threatened when a top government official in the Health Department tells women that the best thing for menopause id praying. I feel threatened when a top government official feels no need to protect the environment because the apocalypse is coming soon. That is why I am threatened by evangelicals.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • indyfan

      We need to IMPEACH OBUMBA. NOW!

      October 16, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Chris

      I think you would feel much better living under the scientific atheists societies of Lenin/Stalin; Mao of China; Pol Pot of Cambodia; or maybe the Kims of North Korea. I think your children would really enjoy it if they had the freedoms of the National Socialist Darwin education of Nazi Germany. You should thank Christians everyday for the freedoms you and your little brats enjoy!

      October 16, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • GMM

      Hmm, you mean theories, like the "Theory of Evolution"?

      October 16, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • pfft

      @Chris

      sooo wrong, on sooo many different levels haha.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  13. Robert

    The US was founded by evangelicals on Christian principles. That is why it is the most free nation that has ever existed.

    Consider officially atheist nations such as the old Soviet Union and China. Bastions of mass murder and denial of basic human rights. That is all atheism has contributed to the world. Mass murder, destruction, and denial of human rights.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • yooper712

      But at least they have the ability to abort their babies. Could you imagine living in a country where you didn't have the choice to choose life or death for an unborn baby. I would rather live in communism.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Saturn

      You need to do some real study into US history. Or just history in general.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Jack

      “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion”
      – George Washington

      Really sucks when the truth smacks you in the face, doesn't it? This is a secular country, cope with it.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • JMK

      Yes, and look at how many European nations were strongly Christian. How many times did they go to war to see who's version of Christianity was better? How much bloodshed occurred in England when Catholics or Protestants took over? How many of those nations were free under the European Monarchs? It was all that that our founders DIDN'T want our nation founded on "Christian" principles. It's the very thought this nation was founded on the Bible that scares the living h*ll out of me. It's because people don't understand how and why the system works. They don't understand the reason of checks and balances, tyranny of the majority, separation of powers, separation of church and state, etc. Nope, we are a Christian nation free to enforce the will of Christ on the people.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • chrisg

      Oh wait, you forget to mention Hitler the mass murder. But Hitler was a christian so your could not mention him, Uh???

      October 16, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  14. Roger Tharpe

    As long as we realize that this world is not our home and continue preaching the unfiltered word of God and share his love in living a life of obedience we can be a danger to disease and poverty.

    http://www.rogertharpe.wordpress.com

    October 16, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • angora

      This is a good example of how detached evangelicals are from our reality. They don't want to do the hard work to protect the life of this planet's ecosystems. They just want to preach, wait to be lifted up, and leave the mess they created behind. This is what children do.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  15. Bob in LA

    These views are made to sound very simplistic and safe. The reality is religion should not influence our government. If you want to keep it easy- look what religious influence has done in the Middle East and Israel.
    Government is to represent the needs and views of all the country- not just the majority. Common sense says that the more you allow us to become a "Christian" nation, the less tolerance there will be for anyone none Christian.
    From a more disturbing side- these Evangelical "Christians" often times are not representing true Christian beliefs of the follower of Christ. they have their own agenda on how we should live. Christ taught compassion and acceptance of his fellow man and left judgement to God. Have you ever read the postings and preaching of these supposed Christians- hardly tolerance for anyone unlike themselves. Yes, they are allowed a voice to vote- but the pulpit is not a public place to preach about Government. and they should know this.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • kimsland

      Ironically 'jesus' was born and preached in the Middle east.
      Makes you think.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Pete

      Cities came from the middle east too, and writing. Makes you think doesn't it?

      October 16, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • angora

      Look how well that worked out for him, Kimsland.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Chris

      The pulpit was used to preach by MLK very effectively for the rights of all Americans, the pulpit was used to preach for the independence of American in the 1770's, the pulpit was used by those opposed to slavery in the 1850-60's. The pulpit has always been the sounding point of American religious freedoms.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • kimsland

      Oh yes they were just SO intelligent back then. 2000 years ago.
      By the way seen any witches lately?
      Hypocrites.

      Anyway what made the Middle east even more dumber? Oh yeah religion.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Pete

      Try at least 5000 years Kimsland – but I think we get it – you don't like religion. I'm not a massive fan either but basically condemning a huge group of people in sweeping statements really doesn't add much does it?

      October 16, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  16. mk2

    The majority of Americans question evolution? riiiiiiight...

    October 16, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • kimsland

      Good point. Religious people don't question anything, if they did they'd be straight out of religion in a second.
      Religion is ignorance.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Melcoast

      As a Christian conservative I believe strongly in evolution. But keep in mind that even the scientific community refers to it as the "Theory of Evolution." We all know the definition of "theory." We as Christians do question as that is how we learn and grow. Your comments are clearly those of someone standing on the outside, looking through a foggy window kind of assuming what you think might possibly go on in the house of the Lord. Christianity might not be PC on earth but you'll find it pretty important one day, trust me.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  17. Will

    I'm not an evangelical or even a Christian, but I agree that Evangelical Christians are often given a bad rap. While I disagree with much of their politics–particularly their anti-gay agenda–they're often bashed by the very people who preach to the rest of us about the importance of diversity. These secular liberals attempt to silence Evangelicals or paint them out as nutjobs unworthy to speak on weighty matters because they are so "deluded" by faith that they can't see the 'right path,' which by definition is the path their opponents happen to be on.

    Do we believe in diversity or not? If we do, we can't only be interested in hearing from the liberal secularists. Let's all vigorously debate the issues of the day, but give a credible consideration to the views of others, even if we ultimately end up disagreeing with them.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • angora

      Fighting against a group that has forced itself into the public sphere with the goal of eliminating diversity of thought (evangelicals believe they have all the right answers) is not being in itself anti-diversity. It is fighting to protect the rights of people to live under a set of laws that ensure they can pratice whatever spiritual tradition they like, or not. That includes protecitng the rights of evangelicals, just so long as they don't take others' rights away.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • pfft

      Diversity is one thing. Policy driven by a Bronze-Age religion instead of logic and reason is entirely different.

      October 16, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Zoey

      Well you talk like a grown up and these evangelicals do not and the problem is their numbers influence elections. I for one am not comfortable with these people dictating what is right and what is wrong.

      I'm sure you wouldn't allow a mentally ill person to manage your life, your money, your medicine and by allowing these people to sway elections on their closed minded ideology we all suffer with what we get as our elected officials.

      I think the damage these people do is just as horrific as the damage any war can do.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  18. freetime1

    "wondering aloud how anyone who questions evolution could be considered intelligent, even as polls indicate that a majority of Americans question evolution."

    That's because the majority of Americans have been sold a lie. Now an overwhelming number of the members of the the National Academy of Sciences believe in evolution, what the majority of them do not believe in is a god. Who do you think is more intelligent, the average American or the average member of the the National Academy of Sciences?

    October 16, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Franco

      Do you think this correlation is correct? I hope that you understand the fallacy of your statement, since you claim to like science. I am scientist with IQ of 150. I am a Christian, so if I am more intelligent than person X and person X disagrees with me- does that make the other person wrong? Or maybe you will give a greater probably of this person been correct just because one is smarter than X. It is very much a silly argument
      I don’t quite understand your correlation

      October 16, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  19. Wild West

    Fundamentalist evangelical movement has willfully worked to delegitimatized the US government and destroys its ability to tax, spend and regulate.

    These theocratic fundamentalists have replaced economic and political justice with a hate and intolerant driven fake moral high round of litmus tests and red herring issues.

    The result, lower middle class and poor Americans, have been persuaded to vote against their own class and self interest.

    Fundamentalist evangelical movement trick of political sleight of hand has been achieved. As they continue to willfully act in there anti-american agenda to declare the US government is the agent of evil.

    Declaring that the government is the source of all evil and thus anyone the government wants to regulate is being picked on by satanic forces.

    God-fearing folks will always vote for less government and less regulation because the government is evil. So unregulated corporations, banks and Wall Street are always right and represent "freedom" while government is always wrong and represents "tyranny."

    Deference to religion masquerading as politics must end.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  20. angora

    Many deeply spiritual people – such as Buddhists, Hindus, Jewish, Quakers, and many others – are not driven to control the world with their philosphy. Evangelicals have forced themselves onto others and now seem shocked that others are pushing back to get them off. People will always fight to protect their freedom, especially when it is being squashed by a group whose core beliefs they don't hold.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:54 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81
Advertisement
About this blog

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.