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. Wow!

    Siara, Sorry you can't see him! I don't think it's a rapturous spirit that is felt either. How much do you actually know about the dark ages?

    October 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  2. Spiritual One

    Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself – but what I see from Evangelical Christians is a lot of judging instead of loving.
    Jesus said to help the poor – but what I see from many Evangelicals is an obsession with low taxes, no matter who gets hurt.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  3. Eric

    "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." - The obvious conclusion here is that the majority of Americans are not intelligent. I assume this is the point the author is making?

    October 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  4. H. E. Fosdick

    The danger is that evangelicalism will be seen as synonymous with Christianity. They are not one and the same, not in the least, and evangelicals have done more to blacken the name of Christ and to obscure his teachings than any other force in modern culture. The current anti-religious backlash in modern society is due almost entirely to their distortions of Christian teachings.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  5. Wanderer81

    ..."evangelicals" only became dangerous after the culture war started in the 1960s (by politicians I might add...not Church folk). The real evangelical community (who are very good people and good citizens) needs to distance itself from politics because right now people either associating you with Apartheid or Joel Olsteen and not much in between. Politics kills everything it touches...including religion.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  6. us1776

    Secular government is the only way that you can guarantee true freedom of religion.

    Once you start mixing in any particular religious sect with government then government has lost all objectivity toward religions.

    And that is the purpose of the separation of church and state. Not to become a godless state but to allow all religions to exist.

    .

    October 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  7. Tincie

    Look, we decided to have a secular nation a long time ago when we decided that this nation would have no official religion, that there would be no religious litmus test for elected officials, and when we reinforced the idea with the separation of church and state. People are completely free to vote with their beliefs for this nation, informed by their religion or not, but I do think that when it comes to introducing theology into our legislation, we're not keeping with the founding principles of the nation (namely that we would no longer be free to pursue our own choices if they are limited by religious rules). My opinion.

    As a side note, here's something I don't understand: "Above all, evangelicals are those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and are most concerned about telling others about Jesus." I'm not sure who DOESN'T know about Jesus at this point. You guys win. My daily life is saturated in Jesus. Maybe there are some faroff peoples who are currently unaware due to their extreme isolation, but I get a little irritated when I hear about the implicit assumption that Jesus is like a secret little mystery known to the ancient cult of Christians, as it was back in the day. We know. You're as ubiquitous as McDonalds and then some. I mean, do what you have to do, I just think maybe it's time for phase 2.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  8. AvdBerg

    Evangelicals are not able to bring people into a relationship with God. That is a deception. The Bible teaches us in Revelation 12:9 that the whole world is deceived and the Bible is truth (John 14:170 and there is no lie in it (Hebrews 6:18). For a better understanding what it means to be a Christian, we invite you to read the article ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Also, to give people a better understanding of the issues that divide this world we have recently added the article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’ to our listing of articles.

    It is unfortunate but nevertheless the truth that man(kind) in his natural state is unable to understand the Word of God, in fact he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned: meaning to be able to discern between darkness and light (1 Cor. 2:14,15, Acts 26:18). On our website we explain what mankind must do to be reunited with God. The Bible is true and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

    There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). The only element that separates the Natural body from the Spiritual body is the Baptism of Repentance (Mark 1:4). To repent means: to change spirits and to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan, whose spirit mankind is of (Luke 9:55), unto God (Acts 26:18). This is not an interpretation.

    We depict the natural body and the spiritual body on top of every page on our website. The spiritual side represents the Tree of Life. A Tree signifies a person and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil refers to a person that is able to discern (judge) between darkness and light (1 Cor. 2:15; Acts 26:18).

    Many people search the Bible for in them they think they have eternal life, but when we bring them the Scriptures they don’t believe us (John 5:38,39). Confused? There is no need to be confused any longer. For a better understanding of the mystery of God and what mankind must do to be reunited with God we invite you to read all the pages and articles of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    So, before mankind will be able to understand the Word of God, mankind requires to be converted and transformed by God and only then mankind is able to understand the Bible, as it is God (John 1:1). Any kind of religion is a form of self-transformation and is like putting new wine into old bottles or like putting a new piece of old cloth into an old garment (Matthew 9:16,17; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    October 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      And here we have a perfect answer to the question "Why worry about evangelicals?"

      October 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  9. Davd

    Evangelicals are sounding more like the KKK. In a few years, Evangelicals could become KKK like.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Davd

      If this country is controlled by Evangelicals, it could very well become of one the middle-east countries where religion and politics are one and the same.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  10. Joe Blow

    "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.
    Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
    Gandhi

    Never were truer words spoken!

    October 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • A Christian

      Amen!

      October 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  11. AC

    WWBD – How about all of the churches that give millions of dollars from their congregations that are given to charities and give food and clothing to people around the country and world. Many Christians take time to go help others and give more of themselves.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Rob

      Too bad they don't give without strings, "We'll give you this, but you must worship our god and believe in our way of life". It's just like the crack dealer that gives away a free sample and then once you're hooked your soul is his. No thanks!

      October 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Just think how much MORE charity generous people could afford if they didn't have to support the nonproductive leeches of the priest class who peddle willful ignorance — and, way too often, disdain for those different from themselves.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Real Deal

      RichardSRussell,
      "much MORE charity generous people could afford if they didn't have to support the nonproductive leeches of the priest class"

      Yes, and the outrageously expensive church buildings. One example: The Crystal Cathedral cost $18 million to build in 1980; and the Catholic diocese of Orange, CA recently made a bid of $50 million to buy it (since the CC is bankrupt) - and $50 million is a real deal.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  12. Annexian

    Let's see, most Muslim terrorists in the USA have been gullible fools that got caught up quickly in FBI stings that'd be "Entrapment" were it not for fear/terror enshrined in the media. Oh, those on 9/11? Well, note that the FBI was warned about those people from many directions but didn't do anything. Under Clinton they'd have been fired and possibly faced criminal charges.

    On the other hand, the "Domestic Terrorists" that do damage to hurt people... "Good Christians" from abortion clinic bombers to Tim McVeigh. Yeah, the "left" has terrorists too, like ALF that does a lot of Property damage, ELF too, but they don't kill people, just break things and set critters free. Oh, and the FBI spends more on ELF alone than ever on Al Queada.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • maverick

      Tim Mcveigh actually self declared himself as an athiest in one of his interviews, so I dont know why people keep using him as some sort of christian terrorist.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Timothy McVeigh was a confused guy who said he believed lots of different, contradictory things over the course of his life. Tellingly, when push came to shove, he accepted Catholic last rites just before he was executed. (He had been raised Catholic, not that I'm claiming that was responsible for his subsequent warping.)

      October 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Rich

    Scary because they can't think for themselves.They need a money grubbing huckster to show them the way(to poverty i hope)

    October 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  14. AC

    You are all stuck on evangelicals. Most Christians don't judge the way you think. We know it is up to God to judge and that we all make mistakes. Go out and get to no some other people and I think you might have a change of heart.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  15. Patrick Brady

    I'd like to know what polls he is talking about when he says "most Americans question evolution". According to the Princeton University poll 39% believe in evolution, 25% do not believe in evolution and 36% have no opinion at all. No opinion at all is not questioning evolution, it's not even thinking on it. Therefore "most" people believe in evolution. Also, the more education a person has the larger the percentage of their belief in evolution is (same Princeton Poll)

    October 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The polls are in your own mind because you hate Jesus. You hate Jesus because you don't want to acknowledge the pain in your life. Jesus allows pain so that we grow to be the best that He wants us to be.

      Amen.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Olympus

      HeavenSent... I guess you hate Zeus then, eh?

      October 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What a lovely delusional spew HS. You know absolutely nothing about Patrick Brady, yet you feel free to tell whatever lie pops into your head about him. Why do you constantly lie? Doesn't your god expressly forbid it?

      October 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • RadicalModerate

      HS: Patrick Brady's point was excellent and in no way infers a hate for Jesus. Mr. Mohler could very well have misrepresented the statistics and should be held accountable for it. BTW – I'm a devoted follower of Jesus.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • chrisg

      HS are you REALLY that brainwashed?

      October 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Olympus

      chrisg,

      HS has VERY TINY brain to wash.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  16. Sunita

    WWBD–What would the Buddha do? He'd say loving-kindness ("mehta") to, for and with all creatures, evangelicals included, is the answer. Would the Christian evangelicals reciprocate? That is the issue here.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • RadicalModerate

      yes, true disciples of Jesus would say love to all. Anyone claiming to be an "Evangelical Christian" who does not love all is an enemy infiltrator distorting and dishonoring the name of Christ.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Steve

    Sorry sir, but evangelicals (and other religions too) *are* dangerous when they seek to control and dominate the political process and force their religious beliefs on everyone else. They are free to practice their religion as they see fit, as long as they don't harm others or infringe on the rights of others to do the same, or not believe in any religion. That is why a secular democracy with freedom of religion is the least oppressive of all possible forms of government. No forced religion!

    October 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • ensense

      so do the unions. If you are so concerned about political donations. stop every kind of donation other than individual donation and put a cap of 1000 dollars on each individual donation. that will even the playing field and take out the lobbyists from the picture.

      October 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  18. Jojo

    I would say that any fanatical or extremist group is dangerous, including evangelical Christians.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  19. Beelzebubba

    What is so scary about delusional people?

    DUH!

    They are delusional! They believe their silly comic books and their fairy tale prince in the sky. Seriously, if you're not a child, do imaginary friends seem cute or dangerous?

    October 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Clifford S

      Thats pretty funny coming from soneone named Bedlzebubba. If you dont believe, why do you use the devils name

      October 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Superman

      Clifford, "If you dont believe, why do you use the devils name"

      For fun.

      Not to worry, though... I'll save you!

      October 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Siara

      I am tired of being asked to respect George W Bush-style religion. I deeply respect religion like Martin Luther King's which includes common sense things like civil rights and science.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  20. Siara

    What's so scary about them? Well, for starters they take their marching orders (which may include violence) from an invisible friend in the sky who the rest of us can't see. It's okay if these orders make no sense at all because their invisible friend is above and beyond logic and common sense. If they feel that rapturous feeling deep in their hearts, they'll do it.

    Twenty years ago religion without respect for common sense was not admired in the civilized world but now we are supposed to equate their irrational bursts of impulse with a well reasoned argument because Faith is "another way of knowing". No wonder huge segments of our country are going down the drain. Intellectually we've gone back to the Dark Ages.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Siara, you wrote "What's so scary about them? Well, for starters they take their marching orders (which may include violence) from an invisible friend in the sky who the rest of us can't see. It's okay if these orders make no sense at all because their invisible friend is above and beyond logic and common sense. If they feel that rapturous feeling deep in their hearts, they'll do it. Twenty years ago religion without respect for common sense was not admired in the civilized world but now we are supposed to equate their irrational bursts of impulse with a well reasoned argument because Faith is "another way of knowing". No wonder huge segments of our country are going down the drain. Intellectually we've gone back to the Dark Ages."

      Answer: What is scary is all you phony balonies on this blog that have the g a y age n da going on but hide behind science to put Christians down. Tune in. Flesh is sin. All of us are sinners. It's what sin we have to overcome to be the best that Jesus wants us to be so that we can get closer to Him.

      Amen.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Siara, in the absence of a "Like" button: LIKE!

      October 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • RadicalModerate

      Siara – The marching orders are not from an invisible friend but from an undisputable historical figure who turned religion upside down and established a new paradigm of selfless love for relating to God and one another. There is a standard for our faith which admittedly has been misrepresented and misapplied. (I apologize for those who judge and hate in the name of Jesus.) Nevertheless, I consider it a better model than doing whatever seems right at the moment.

      HS – I'm sorry to say that your theology is bad and misrepresents the Gospel of Jesus. When cannot overcome sin to be better and then closer to Jesus. We cannot please God with our own works but come to Him as we are where we will find grace and pardon. Any improvement in my character is just an outgrowth of that Grace in my life.

      October 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • ensense

      Ok gay sierra, here is some more logic to add to your logical reasoning. Gays sate that they are gay because of their genes, if so then genes predispose them to extinction in a few generation's. eg 2 gays marry each other they cant produce so they take themselves out of the gene pool so if this continues, then according to genetics gays will be extinct. so following the same logic those who are hostile to gay marriage are actually trying to save the gay gene right?

      October 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      ensense, I'm not sure what you are trying to say, but straight people have gay kids. They haven't found a genetic link yet, however there is ample proof to indicate that being gay is innate. It has more to do with hormone levels in the womb. Also, there is statistical evidence that the more older brothers a male child has, the greater the odds that he will be gay.

      October 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
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.