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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. E

    And why should gays want Jesus when his followers show them nothing but hate, judgment and hypocrisy.

    Make up your mind, are all people made perfect by God or do you think God made mistakes that it is YOUR job to judge and fix?

    October 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  2. Patrick Lewis

    Anyone who has surrendered their cognitive faculties to a book and others who would interpret that book are dangerous.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Patrick, and where did you read the concept that you post?

      Amen.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  3. SFvalues

    The author is being dishonest on many levels, which is disappointing given that he's a leader in the SBC. He knows very well that the fundamental charge - that there is theocratic strain of evangelical Christianity that is anti-democratic - is absolutely true. He is also making a strawman argument, claiming that critics of this dominionist/theocratic/new apostolic reformation movement are just secularists that don't want religious voices in democracy. That's not true. In fact, the strongest criticisms of dominionism come from other Christians. I'm particularly offended by his constantly using the term "evangelical" to refer only to conservative Christians. He knows very well that there liberal evangelicals who support a woman's right to choose and marriage equality - it's just that his organization has purged them all (not very democratic!). Overall, this is a propaganda piece meant to lull both Christians and non-Christians alike into thinking that there is no threat so dominionists can continue to operate under the radar. It's shameful for a leader of a Christian organization to lie and deceive.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  4. Dan

    The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.

    No commandment. Not "no gays" or "no abortions" or "no commie socialists" or "no democrats" or "no taxes on the rich" or "no regulation of corporations". But love.

    Try to stick to this, guys.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  5. gerr

    Unique to human beings and what makes a human human is the conscience. Conscience develops through knowledge and experiences in and with the world. You take it from there.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  6. drm

    Even the Pilgrims thought marriage should be a civil act.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  7. oneone

    God lets bad people kill at will.

    The devoted they say it’s because of “free will”.

    Then why do they pray, and pray, and pray?

    For god to help them, day after day?

    Do they want their god to improve their fate?

    Of their own “free will” do they ask god to negate?

    “Free will” for us all…, from the god of peace!

    Who sends us to hell for a “wrong” belief.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • chrisg

      Another great poem one.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  8. Pest

    If you think that others should be forced to live according to your personal preferences and tastes, and let's face it, that's all most politically active evangelicals are doing (while cherry picking Biblical verses to justify), then you are a waste of oxygen and space. Do society a favor, and join all the little aborted fetuses now.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Christian

      My heart breaks for the things you say with such force. There is no love, faith or belief only yourself. May God forgive you for the remark about unborn fetus, His children. In the end of days we will become like Sodom and Gomorrah, as all of your posts show. May God show you His light and His mercy.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Larry

      Amen Christian.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Anon

      Screw your BS abrahamic desert blood cult god!

      October 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Real Deal

      The NIH reports, "It is estimated that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among those women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%."

      Your "God" is the worst killer.

      October 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  9. drm

    Why should anyone be afraid of Christians? They have such a wonderful track record throughout history.

    drm

    October 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • bill

      yes osama – some of us can be bad too.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Philip L

      Yeah like those great Christians Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Pete

      I think that was sarcasm people

      October 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Your an idiot

      Stalin was an Atheist and Mao fool communism forbade any religion. Hitler was just a nut-bag, probably an Atheist to.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • chrisg

      Hitler was a christian, google it stupid.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Anon

      Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were personality cult leaders who even ordered the execution of freethinkers.

      October 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  10. oneone

    God wants our worship and love it seems.

    But he only appears to us in our dreams.

    You can pray for his help, but don’t hold your breath.

    For his plan for you is your inevitable death.

    They claim if you believe, you’re heaven bound.

    But a witness for this has never been found.

    No guarantees for this claim, now THAT’s a sin.

    So don’t take the bait and get hooked and reeled in.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • chrisg

      Bravo, good post and quite artistic

      October 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  11. nathan

    Yes. Well thought and great expression.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  12. David crandall

    Practice no religion.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  13. Occupyeverywhere

    if it were up to them we would still be living in the 19th century
    Anyone who embraces ignorance and demonizes logic and reason is a lunatic and has no place in any political seat of power
    worship whatever deity you want, but DONT YOU DARE USE THAT TO INFRINGE ON CITIZENS RIGHTS

    October 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Actually, more like the 17th Century or even earlier.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Pete

      So no big deal, don't vote for them.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  14. Muneef

    Very dangerous they export their beliefs to the Middle East creating religious conflicts among any one nation...

    October 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • John Richardson

      The Middle East doesn't actually need any help with creating religious conflicts. But I actually agree that evangelical christians and their apocalyptic delusions are eagerly sowing the seeds of even more discord than there otherwise would be over there.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • sybaris

      Exactly!

      If the religious nutters are so anxious to meet their "maker" then by all means, off yourselves, but don't drag the rest of us down with your bronze age dooms day good vs evil fantasies.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Philip L

      Actually the woes in the middle east are courtesy of the JEWISH Israel lobby.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Muneef

      ((but don't drag the rest of us down with your bronze age))

      Strange I thought all Muslims were dragged for an acts of few insane one's?..!

      October 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Muneef

      Quote;
      Christians of Iraq Caught Between the Islamists and the Evangelists;

      Even when Christian churches in Iraq have to contend with crime and anti Christian violence from the Moslem extremist they are under siege by the Evangelists of the west who are there to steal away their parishioners by bribing them with badly needed $25 dollars food basket to establish new competing churches. The Evangelists seem to be more interested in profiting from these people's miseries rather than helping them unselfishly at an hour of need.
      Unquote:
      Link to read further ;
      http://www.christiansofiraq.com/nohelp.html
      ----
      Evangelists want to start another crusade in Iraq
      http://temple-news.com/2003/05/01/evangelists-want-to-start-another-crusade-in-iraq/

      October 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Muneef

      Quote;
      Yemeni Researcher Dr. Abdul Qawi Al-Tab'ee warned of the growing organized Christian movement in Yemen, hinting the missionary work of foreign agencies focus on young youth to build its movement and spread Christianity in Yemen.

      This news comes in shock to a country known to be free from Christians as only very few Christian Yemenis exist in Aden, which officials say that they are not of Yemeni root.
      Unquote:
      Read more at the link;
      http://www.yemenpost.net/17/LocalNews/1.htm

      October 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  15. drm

    What does "Jesus is Lord" even mean?

    October 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Pest

      The meaning is not important. Brainwashed drones just repeat, repeat, repeat.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Shirley

      It means that Jesus is supposed to our authority, and since "Jesus is the Word"...the Word is our authority, however...only a small percentage of Christians do this, as they tend to pick and choose what they will do (therefore Jesus is no longer Lord) so it is no wonder you are asking this question

      October 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Pat

    Church and State should be separated. There is no place for religion in government. Government must be secular. If you want to add religion into your life, that's not my business, but don't add it into government.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  17. CarrotCakeMan

    Evangelicals want to force their "beliefs" onto all other Americans by misusing the power of the law. They want American women butchered in botched back room abortions as "punishment," they want to separate loving, committed long term same gender couples when one is in the hospital, and they support the GOP's attack on all Americans who are not rich.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  18. Larry

    Something is wrong with you Anti-Christians" old fool your name fits you perfectly. if you can compare Christianity to Iran you have the intellect of a snake. KL, if you would rather have, say Bin Laden over Obama you should be in prison. Mormonism was started in the 1800 by some guy who would kill anyone trespassing into Utah, so come on. Christianity has been around for over 2000 years. I do agree that Christian need to wake up about the Republican party and what they say their stance is on Christian views. The Republican controlled Congress just passed a bill to fund abortion. Now if they don't realize how much they are being lied to they need to wake up.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • drm

      The "intellect of a snake?". Didn't a snake trick "humankind" into eating the forbidden fruit?

      October 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • sybaris

      If you think some invisible sky daddy made the first humans out of dirt then I fail to see how atheists could be slighted by the intellect of a snake.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Larry

      Because a snake is the lowest form of life. crawling around in the dirt. And the first thing to tell a lie.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • PopeJon

      Snakes don't lie. But I've heard many a Christian tell a lie....

      October 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  19. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    HS is off her meds again.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  20. AZ Wildcat

    Are they dangerous? They are the American Taliban.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Larry

      And you must be Joseph Stalin's son. Communist fool

      October 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • sybaris

      Oh Larry, stop with the Atheism = Communism nonsense. Broadcasting such fallacies make you look foolish.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Matt

      I agree with AZ Wildcat.

      Any group of people who believe that their religion is the one true religion and want to impose that believe system on the rest of the world must be opposed. This is true for the Taliban and for fundamentalist Christians.

      Americans are free to believe in whatever they want, but they are not free to impose those beliefs on others.

      BTW... Christians in the USA should acquaint themselves with the Treaty of Tripoli, which includes this statement "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

      That treaty was ratify UNANIMOUSLY by the US Senate and signed by John Adams, the second president of the United States.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Your an idiot

      sybaris and saying Christianity is the American Taliban doesn't? That doesn't even make sense.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • chrisg

      Larry is the antichrist to the christians and the taliban. There larry how do you like being called stupid names.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • That's Rich

      @Your an idiot

      Anyone who would say, "Your an idiot" is beyond idiotic.

      (Hint: The contraction for "you are" is "you're" - this is a fact taught in the 3rd grade, or earlier)

      October 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
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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.