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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. Lee

    I never understood how the "sacrifice of Jesus" was any kind of sacrifice at all. The evil god apparently had us all going to hell until his son could be sacrificed, then the god would finally allow SOME people to not experience eternal hell fire and suffering. But Jesus came back to life 3 days later so what kind of "sacrifice" is that? It is like if I "sacrifice" $10000 to a charity, then take it back 3 days later but go around telling people how much they should be grateful and worship me for my great "sacrifice" If I had to die to save the world in some way, I would be willing to do it. And I can't come back to life. I know there are plenty of other people who feel the same, so I think that shows the average person is more loving than God.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Predanator

      Agreed. If you are a god and you know it, being "killed" is not a sacrifice. And Jesus never said his death would be meaningful – Paul added that in later.

      October 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • BMW57

      And this is the same god that prevented Abraham from sacrificing Issac right? So he can but his follower cannot?

      October 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I don't know about humans being more loving than god, at least not the fundies. It always gives me the creeps when they wax rhapsodic about how a great it is that a guy was tortured to death so that they don't have to be accountable for their own actions.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  2. scott

    I love all of the tolerance here.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  3. Shak

    I am Muslim yet can look at the fossil record and see no issue with believing in Evolution. How hard is it to read the science on it, look at the fossil record and see what has happened. Unless you are the sort that thinks man co-existed with Dinosaurs. American was founded as a nation with religious freedom, not as a Christian nation. I really wish people would understand that.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  4. 867134

    j

    October 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  5. Maria

    Most of them yes they are,when you became a Radical is when it is danger .....they don't accept any other denominations ideas (wrong)and everything outside their fate is bad is sinful....Yes they are! and they are RADICALS and is wrong!

    October 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  6. RichardSRussell

    I hope everyone realizes that the author of this essay makes his living by pushing his particular flavor of the Big Fairy Tale, in hopes that you'll buy HIS snake oil instead of that of his competi tors (or *gracious!* thinking for yourself and realizing that you don't need any snake oil at all). To repeat: he's a con man, a huckster, a charlatan, a hustler. He makes his LIVING convincing suckers to buy steady doses of the absolutely evidence-less fables from his Big Book o'Horrors.
     
    Guys like this can provide some temporary entertaining diversion, but never, never, never, never, never, never, EVER give them any money. It only encourages 'em.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  7. erich2112x

    When they finally start reading what it really says in the bible, and not what they'd like it to say, I'll start giving them credibility, like that's ever going to happen.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  8. El Flaco

    The quirky Evangelical version of Christianity is a recent invention and never existed before the 20th century. I know many Evangelicals like to imagine that they are somehow linked by belief or tradition to ancient Christianity, but that is not true. The Evangelical gods – Yahweh, Jesus, God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, and Satan – have the same names as the ancient Christian gods, but that is merely a coincidence. Evangelical Christianity is brand new religion, sort of like Mormonism.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  9. stanknasty

    Evolution theory explained. Out of the big bang all life came into being.... It's like a bomb went off in my garage and a shiny Ferrari came out of that explosion... you believe that don't you? Of course a car has about 3,000 parts, a human being is trillions of times more complex than a car. Evolution is for the idiots of the world... They don't realize how crazy/stupid they are.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Andrew

      I don't believe that in the slightest, but then again, I've taken courses on cosmology, and actually understand what big bang theory says. Funny that, how an education allows you to disagree with a strawman.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • El Flaco

      That's not what evolution says. There is no point in me explaining to you what evolution means because you do not care. You don't understand it and you don't want to.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • 867134

      guessing you were homeschooled

      October 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Your Ferrari analogy vastly UNDERstates the improbability of something as complex as the human brain arising by sheer random chance. Do you really think that scientists who study the brain and the cosmos have somehow or other, after all these centuries, failed to notice this until you, you genius, pointed it out to them?

      October 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Under an alternative hypothesis, we have Yahweh, a remarkably inefficient craftsman who wasted about 400,000,000,000 galaxies and 14,500,000,000 years to get to his finished product, life on Earth, which he could presumably have just conjured up in his garage if he'd really wanted to.

      October 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Stank, you are a shiny beacon of ignorance.

      October 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • BMW57

      Over time (say 4.6 BILLION years) molecules formed from the remant gases of the big bang. Given enough time complex molecules will form. Scientists have simlated the conditions and amino acids have been formed in just a few weeks.

      Science and not ignorance will lead to the liberation of man from the bonds of faith.

      October 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  10. UglyTruth

    America has prospered because we have not been under the thumb of anyone religion.
    Like a state sponsored, required religion.

    Yes religion is dangerous.
    History proves that religion is dangerous.
    Why?
    Because religion is faith, belief, not fact.
    In religion you can say and do anything and justify it by belief.

    Prohibition of alcohol was a bad idea.
    So is prohibition of abortion.

    Can we learn from our mistakes?
    Not in a religion, it is written down and must be followed.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  11. Richard

    tready Do you know what you were doing or where you were on December 21st 1826? What ? You don't remember? Oh- you weren't born yet. Ok. Well after you die, you will be in the same place, non-extant!

    October 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • El Flaco

      Clever. I like it. I'll steal it.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  12. Alice Bowie

    Wow Stanknasty...that says all of it. We gotta move out.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  13. Drakonyx

    The author of this blog has created a straw man called the Secular Elite and then proceeded to knock it down – not very successfully, I may add. It's not secularists who are trying to push their beliefs onto others, it's evangelicals. And the author admits as much right in the article! I've created a blog responding to this one. Take a look if you're interested. http://www.theprovocation.net/2011/10/baptist-leader-uses-orwellian-logic-to.html

    October 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  14. azrael

    I believe biased over inflated sense of "Knowledge" "religious" or "scientific" are dangerous just like the language in this article...... People no longer have a sense of balance........ They'll tip the scale to far to a one sided obscure view on things...... I pray sense and degree of respect will prevail in matters......

    October 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Andrew

      The problem is science education is rather bad. People get overinflated senses of scientific certainty and then get confused when scientists come back and say "we previously thought X, and now we don't", as though that somehow means entire scientific disciplines are inherently flawed.

      Science education needs to improve so that people don't have overinflated senses of what science says, but rather, a through robust understanding for scientific methodology that allows more trust in the findings, while still leaving room for potential advancement and changes.

      Oh, and any time a new age guru uses the words 'double slit experiment', run for your lives, run away from all the mangled physics.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  15. The Ole Bullsh!t Dectector Is Going Off Again

    I wonder why Mohler doesn't mention that the "secularist vision of this nation" that he is so virulently against was put there by the Founding Fathers?

    Indeed, his article proves that he is what he denies: a religious fanatic out to change the country into what it never was, dominated by Christian radical fundamentalist theology.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  16. bill

    That a majority of americans question evolution does not make it an intelligent viewpoint. The only way one can question the fundamentals of the theory of evolution is by the willful preservation of one's own ignorance on the subject.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  17. Brandon

    Evangelicals aren't dangerous, it's their desire to force their code of morality on the rest of us.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • UglyTruth

      Yes. Very good.

      you can believe what you want just do not try to force your faith on others.
      Prohibition was a failure.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  18. Rayzak

    My favorite is the prayer in public school issue. I had baptist co-workers ranting and raving on and on about how there needs to be prayer in public school. I said "Great! Catholic Mass every morning before class" Their response?

    "Are you CRAZY? I don't want the government forcing my kids into a religion I don't agree with!"

    My response, "Now you know how I feel."

    October 16, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Johnnnn

      Excellant!

      October 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Shak

      That is awesome,well done in pointing out their hypocracy.

      October 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Harry

      Dead on!

      October 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • BMW57

      Anyone who thinks there is no prayer in school has never taken an Orgainic Chemstry exam.

      October 16, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  19. Zoey

    I agree with you. There seems to have been a devolution going on for the past couple hundred years and we are now at a very LOW POINT in our growth. Case in point, there have never been as many simultaneous wars going on EVER in recorded history. Contrary to popular belief, War is not proof of human advancement.

    I wonder what it will take for people to see that we need to take care of each other no matter who or what we are.

    When I think of the hatred that people have for one another I get sick to my stomach.

    October 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  20. stanknasty

    The theory of evolution is like this: A big bang happened and from there an ameba was created and it evolved into a fish and then the fish grew wings and flew. Then the bird turned into a dinosaur and pooped and from the poop came a human being...yeah oh yeah... and how much crack do you have to smoke to believe that?!!!

    October 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Brad

      You may want to educate yourself. Your knowledge is severely flawed.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Rayzak

      And a magic man in the clouds obsessing over the status of my penis is somehow more believable?

      Can you site some text to prove your explanation of the Theory of Evolution?

      October 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • El Flaco

      Your problem is that you don't have the slightest idea what evolution is. Actually, your problem is that you don't want to know what evolution is. You just want to say to those who understand evolution, "I am smart and you are stupid." You know, surely, that most evolutionary scientists are twice as smart as you. They have read hundreds of books and you have never read a book from cover to cover in your life.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • stanknasty

      thattz wut my preecher done telled me so itz thu trooth so yu gonnna burn in the lake of fiire whiles we gud kristians watch nascar in heavan

      October 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Dave

      Yeah. That's the theory of evolution paraphrased by someone who doesn't know it, and can't be bothered to look something up if it takes more than 30 seconds. There are things we've discovered, tested, proved, over and over again, and yet some people refuse to believe. The would rather recite some drival. Most don't even look at the history of their own church and where their doctrine came from. So in short, yes, evangelicals are dangerous. Just like fundamentalists (insert your religion here) who stop thinging and want things to be a certain way forever (so long as they are on the right side of that divide). There was a reason that church and state were separated. That reason hasn't changed.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      If it's all the same to you, I prefer to go with the description of evolution advanced by people who actually know what they're talking about, such as Richard Dawkins, rather than the cartoon you seem to need to satisfy your feelings of inadequacy.
       
      Just for openers, evolution falls under the heading of "biology", whereas the Big Bang is part of "cosmology". The one thing the 2 disciplines have in common is that they're both sciences, based on careful observation and analysis, otherwise their subject matter is really pretty different.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • gabe

      That might be the dumbest thing I have ever read before. Bravo, dummy.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Eyewatch

      Stanky, you are a perfect example of the idiocy of the fundies. Good work! Keep posting! I'd like lots of people to see what you guys are made of.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Andrew

      That's funny, I've taken courses on big bang cosmology before... never heard the words 'theory of evolution' once in it. I heard the word 'evolution', as in 'change over time', but the actual theory of evolution, no, never came up once in cosmology.

      But hey, I suppose you're FAR better educated on the subject than I am, right? You must have been a double major in biology and physics and I just can't approach your level of knowledge on the subject.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Lee

      No unfortunately the ranks of the religious are packed with people like this. Their parents ensure they enter adulthood in a state of utter ignorance. Religion is a mental virus which propagates from one generation to the next.

      October 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Stanky is what one of my professors used to call "country-dumb and proud of it."

      What a moron.

      October 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Johnnnn

      Less believable than an old man who throws down disasters and boons at his whim from his pearly palace in the sky and who single handedly maintains the infinite universe and all the laws of nature while listening 24/7 to sorry old humans pleading prayers and choosing which to answer and which to put in the cosmic dustbin>>>>?? Really?

      October 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • MaryM

      Stank, education is the cure for your Stupidity

      October 16, 2011 at 6:41 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.