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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. ExCatholic

    Moderator, is that you?

    October 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Moderator

      No, it was not me.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      2 of 2: Ridiculing the_devout believers of any_religion, by hurling_insults meant to hurt them as deeply as possible, displays the same, the EXACT SAME intense intolerance that you_accuse them of showing! If you're an_atheist and you detest the_religious, fine, I can't stop you, no one can. But don't verbally abuse them and don't attack them. If you're an evangelical or devout whatever, the same rules go for you towards others. Geez, it's so obvious.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      lol Oh, ok, you had me going there for a while, Moderator. Notice that part 1 of 2 still will not post. I have no idea why not. It's maddening.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • True Moderator

      Yes, it was me. Are you ready for your mission?

      October 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Moderator

      You probably have some words that are restricted. If you have saved your original message you may want to glance through it to see if you can catch those offensive words. For example p_o_r_n is an offensive word and you have to use special characters as above.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      Moderator, I've been doing exactly that for the past 20 minutes, and so far, no matter how I disguise the words or space or underscore, it's not working. Grrrrrr...

      October 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • Another Poster

      I can feel the pain, been there.Unfortunately there are some words that are considered offensive and no one has a comprehensive list of those words.
      However, some other commentators have periodically provided a list of those words. Good luck with your post!

      October 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  2. Buddy

    This is my problem with bible thumpers: "Above all, evangelicals are... concerned about telling others about Jesus." I could care less that you believe in a mystical zombie. Keep it to yourselves. It's your personal business, not mine. When you tell me about your imaginary friend trying to get me to "believe" in him, that's trying to push your beliefs onto me, and believe it or not, I don't see the world the way you do. If you attempt to push your agenda on to me or try to change the way I live and work in USA, that's when I become concerned with doing everything in my power to shut you down. I don't push my beliefs onto you or anyone else, I expect the same in return. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Reciprocity: learn it and live it.

    October 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • SJ

      Thanks to Stevie, they use iPad these days!

      October 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • George

      That can be said to you too! I get tired of going to work and hearing things like "all Chistians should die" It seems like it violates the law or something...............

      October 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Wow, George. Where do you work? That's pretty harsh. This is the only place where I've seen atheists wish christians ill, and even here, those are in the minority. Most atheists just want christians to get an education or mind their own business, and stay out of politics.

      However, I've been called all sorts of names by the more radical among the christians on these boards, and have been lied about and damned.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  3. Johnny 5

    Selling an invisible product to millions is of course dangerous. They get filthy rich and you get a false promise.

    October 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  4. Gary W

    Evangelicals are not dangerous, but their irrational fundamentalism is dangerous.

    October 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  5. Galloping Ghost

    Dear Fellow Posters,

    I wrote the most beautiful treatise on this topic several hours ago. Yet I can't see it. When I try to resubmit it, I get a message which says duplicate post detected. Is one unable to see their own posts? Can one only see if they are replied to? The terms and conditions say posts are not pre-screened, so it shouldn't be censorship.

    If anyone knows the answer to my question, please respond to this post. Many thanks in advance

    October 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Well that's pretty weird

      I think you need to get over yourself in a HUGE way if you think you wrote "the most beautiful treatise on this topic."

      October 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • tallulah13

      There is an automatic "censor" which does not allow you to post any words that contain a combination of letters that some may find offensive. Words such as const-itution and docu-ment need to be broken somehow, otherwise, you will not be able to post. There is a long list of words, but these are just a couple of examples.You are not being censored for your thoughts, just your spelling.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Moderator

      You post most likely is in an earlier page. Do you remember the time your posted your original comment?

      October 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Galloping Ghost

      Thanks much, Tallulah13. I appreciate the insight. I must admit I'm a newbie at posting. So much so that I accidentally reported you for abuse. I hope this doesn't affect your ability to post.

      Why would words like docu-ment and const-ition be considered offensive to someone?

      October 16, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      I am having the same problem. Some comments are getting through, others are not. No rhyme or reason. I'm about to give up and go comment at Fox out of spite.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Galloping Ghost

      Dear Moderator,

      My original post was between 2:15 and 2:30 PM eastern. I do not think it is as inflammatory as some of the other posts here. Thanks for checking into it.

      GP

      October 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Ghost, the letters that are surround the area that is split may give you a clue: (at the risk of sounding crass) t-it and c-um.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Galloping Ghost

      Tallulah13 ( name inspired by Tallulah Ban-khead?),

      Again thanks. The post was rather long, I must say. Trying to find all possible letter sequences in it which might const-iti-tute offensive words would be worse than figuring out the Da Vinci code.

      I guess my treatise is lost to posterity. Sigh.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  6. Steph

    Misogyny is, in fact, both terrifying and dangerous. If you say that submission to men is normal, you are a misogynist. If you believe that women aren't capable of choosing what to do with their lives and bodies, you are a misogynist. If you believe that partnerships which cannot result in pregnancy are wrong, you are a misogynist. The beautiful thing about democracy is that you are completely allowed to oppose human rights and call it morality, but please stop being surprised when the rest of us get upset.

    October 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  7. Tony In Largo

    As a young Catholic I used to think that Christianity in government would be a good thing, until I read about the Catholic Church's Inquisition. Then I knew that Religion in government was and is a bad thing. I also realized that for me to adore God, I don't need him in government. "To Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's".

    Sarah Palin, I have just finished reading, however, is a Dominionist. She obviously hid it very well during the 2008 campaign. Sarah Palin is just as big a hypocrite as those in the Inquisition Committee. On one hand she proclaims to want Jesus Christ everywhere in governemnt, while with the other she discriminated against blacks (fired the eight in Alaska's government as soon as she was sworn-in) she persecuted anyone who had more schooling than her!!!!!, she committed malversation of public funds, and she "used" "friends" and others only to deprive them of their only livelihood after she had gotten from them what she wanted for herself. Dominionist want God in every office in government, but that is a facade. That sounds a lot like Michele Bachmann.

    October 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • George

      Unfortunately that/this was a case of government twisting religion into something it is not.... government should stay out of religion............. However peoples person beliefs has shaped policy and they have the right to have a belief and to vote and to speak what they have to say..........

      October 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  8. Shantel

    I think the problem, for me, is not that evangelicals believe that their religious beliefs have an impact on their political beliefs but that it seems they can't separate them. Often it seems evangelicals that I interact with believe something politically because they think it is synonymous with their faith. Often I don't think they have a real understanding of where certain beliefs in their faith have come from because they have never studied the history of Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc. denominations. My biggest frustration is that when evangelicals have a certain faith influenced political view that they want to impose on others and seem to have no flexibility. Unfortunately, things are not as black and white as many evangelical Christians would like to believe.

    October 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  9. Rod

    The SBC is nothing more than a terrorist organization, and should be treated as such.

    October 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  10. Muneef

    Guess have to chose at what early stage abortion could be possible with out harm..
     
    Sahih International
    O People, if you should be in doubt about the Resurrection, then [consider that] indeed, We created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot, and then from a lump of flesh, formed and unformed – that We may show you. And We settle in the wombs whom We will for a specified term, then We bring you out as a child, and then [We develop you] that you may reach your [time of] maturity. And among you is he who is taken in [early] death, and among you is he who is returned to the most decrepit [old] age so that he knows, after [once having] knowledge, nothing. And you see the earth barren, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows [something] of every beautiful kind. (22:5).
    ---–

    Sahih International
    And certainly did We create man from an extract of clay. (23:12).
    Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging. (23:13).
    Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah , the best of creators. (23:14).
    Then indeed, after that you are to die. (23:15).
    Then indeed you, on the Day of Resurrection, will be resurrected. (23:16).
    ----

    Sahih International
    It is He who created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot; then He brings you out as a child; then [He develops you] that you reach your [time of] maturity, then [further] that you become elders. And among you is he who is taken in death before [that], so that you reach a specified term; and perhaps you will use reason. (40:67).
    He it is who gives life and causes death; and when He decrees a matter, He but says to it, "Be," and it is. (40:68).
    ----

    Sahih International
    Does man think that he will be left neglected? (75:36).
    Had he not been a sperm from semen emitted? (75:37).
    Then he was a clinging clot, and [ Allah ] created [his form] and proportioned [him] (75:38).
    And made of him two mates, the male and the female. (75:39).
    -----

    October 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • chrisg

      Yikes

      October 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Yuck!

      I love it when Muneef quotes Islamic scripture that he thinks will convice and convert people, when in reality what he posts is a repellant admixture of hideous and appalling.

      Thanks for reminding us that Islam is not an option either, Muneef!

      October 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • *frank*

      There are a lot of clinging clots on this board, heh.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Muneef

      Frank.
      These are the stages in pregnancy ...

      Yuck!

      You are welcome dear and my only concern is that others become to know our beliefs even though wouldn't want to become Muslim...any way who would want to declare any thing like that in such times where who ever is Muslim is condemned even before his birth....!

      October 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  11. RichardSRussell

    Tip for evangelicals: Quoting the Bible as authoritative on any given subject may be all it takes to convince other evangelicals, but if you want to convince anyone else, you must 1st demonstrate why the Bible is even remotely relevant or credible. Otherwise, you just come off as an unthinking parrot.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • George

      LOL Not so sure about the "do not kill thing" I think it is irrelevant in todays world............. What are you talking about?

      October 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Roguey

      Depends on which set of commandments, but if you are talking about the ones that Moses brought down (after he broke up the fist set) then that one did supposedly contain the "Thou shalt not kill." Yet after Moses tells his people this amazing revelation, he instructs them to go and commit genocide on the Amalechites. "Thou shalt not kill" just means "Thou shalt not kill Jews." Great ethics...

      October 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  12. ExCatholic

    test

    October 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      Parts of Part 1 (to go with 2 of 2 which did post)– Try #6 (posting 1 sentence at a time)... Has some0ne already reminded every0ne that the_f0unding f@thers of America all_believed in_G_0_d? continued-

      October 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      Part2 of Part 1 (to go with 2 of 2 which has posted)– Try #7 (posting 1 sentence at a time): Were mostly_Chr!st!ans and_pr@yed often, separately and as a group?

      October 16, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      Pt 3 of Part 1 (to go with 2 of 2 which posted a while ago)– Try #8 (1 sentence at a time): They *STILL* created a_C0ns_t!tution that_st!pulated that the_g0vernment would never establish or_f0rce the_w0r_sh!p of any_re_l!g!0n. (I'm neither_Chr!s_t!an nor_@the!st.) [This is redonkulous.]

      October 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  13. Colin

    There are two theories that are totally accepted by people that really irk me. The first is the theory of evolution and the second is the virginal birth of human beings. I’m pleased, Mark, that you pointed out the flaws in the former, so allow me to address the latter.

    It is OBVIOUS to me that storks bring babies! I have never, ever seen a woman giving birth, but I have seen a lot of storks. Especially on margarine containers. If you ever go to the beach, you will lots of storks carrying babies, they look just like pelicans because they carry the babies in their mouths. If women gave birth to babies, there would be no need for a navel, but that is how the stork picks the babies up from HEAVEN.

    There is no REAL evidence that women give birth to babies. It is just a THEORY. If they did, why is it that MEN never give birth to babies? Why just women? Where do boys come from? It makes no sense. Also, why are there only “midwives” and never “mid-husbands”?

    If women gave birth to babies, why are there still women and babies? And why is it you never see a half-woman, half baby!! Explain that evolutionists and virginal birth believers! Bet you CAN’T.

    If you look at a stork, it is PERFECTLY designed to carry babies. Why would that be if it didn’t deliver babies? And what about twins and triplets? What, do some women have 2, or even 3 uteruses? That is stupid. A stork can EASILLY carry two or three babies, but a woman couldn’t.

    Why is it that for every 50 boys born, there are 50 girls. What, can a virgina count? Ha, how stupid. But a stork could.

    Ancient Egyptians WORSHIPPED the stork and it lives on every continent. Why would that be if it didn’t deliver babies? How could Mary give birth to Jesus if she was a virgin without a stork?

    You evolutionists are so dumb. Your think babies JUST HAPPENED in their mother’s womb. What, do you think they just appeared out of yucky, slimy blood and stuff ? That’s harder to believe than that the stork brought them. You might like to think you came from a mere zygote, but I KNOW I came from a glorious stork.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • littleriver2

      Now this, my dear man, is hysterical!!! Made my evening.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Colin

      Sorry for the speeling faux pas – "v.aginal birhts and "v.agina"

      October 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • chrisg

      Colin, lol But I dont think they will get your point. But I enjoyed you post

      October 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I thought the typo was deliberate. Funny, funny stuff, Colin.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Roguey

      Well said. ;<)

      October 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • ExCatholic

      Colin, hy-larious. However, ridi_culing_be_lievers will not win their_votes. You do remember that the_foun_ding fa_thers, who were be_lie_vers, are who_drafted the_Con_sti_tu_tion which ensures the se_para_tion of_ch_urch_and_state, right? [Why is CNN moderating any of that?!?!]

      October 16, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  14. clifffromparma

    The worse the economy,the more abortions there are. The more T-Party Congressmen waste their time on abortion and Planned Parenthood the more abortions the T-Party is mandating.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  15. DC

    Evangelicals are dangerous and they already are trying to create an American Theocracy in which laws will force everyone must follow their evangelical beliefs. Evangelicals are not tolerant of other people's beliefs. Look at how they have been changing laws and restricting funding for abortion. Look at their positions against gays in the military and gay couples marrying. Look at their demands for schools to teach creationism as a science in schools. They have every right to believe these things but, they do not have a right to try to force these beliefs on others. There are 300+ million Americans, each with his or her own version of God and what that God wants us to do. Evangelicals to try to impose their version of God on others and it is wrong and dangerous.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • tyler

      It is illogical for you to say 300 million Americans have distinct visions of God. Actually, their is factions among many Americans that form majorities, i.e. Southern Baptist Convention, Northeast Baptist Convention, etc.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • George

      Just as this is not true two hundred years ago when congress "prayed" for two hours before a session ... it is not true today. No one wants a dictatorship .... however.... other peoples opinions are important............

      October 16, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  16. tyler

    This was a rational post from Mohler, well-written.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  17. seth

    Robert E what you dont realize is evangelicals have the right to try and keep people from going to hell too!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Then start by sending us picture postcards from there, because frankly there's less reason to believe in Hell than Hogwarts.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • larryb

      the problem is that hell does not exist...what does exist are religious extremist trying to push their their fantasies and judgements down my throat...no thank you. lets keep this country as the founding fathers intended

      October 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • E

      They have the right to keep THEMSELVES from going to hell. They have no right to tell me what to do.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I hope you're kidding, seth, because that's just lame.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  18. Bubba10

    Yes, they are dangerous. They won't leave others with different views alone, try and either convert (anti-gay therapy anyone?) or remove your rights, all while claiming to be the victim.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  19. Roguey

    Point1. We want the people in power to be reasonably intelligent and capable of logical thought.

    Point2. Anyone who believes that a book, a collection of writing from multiple authors, all plagiarizing bronze age mythology, has any relevance to modern problems, is either intellectually challenged and or incapable of logical thought.

    Conclusion. Anyone who is an Evangelical should not hold public office, and any observation by an Evangelical on moral issues should be immediately dis-regarded.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Abolish All Religion

      Hear hear!

      October 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • George

      Just like the thoughts of Greek democracy has no purpose in modern life ... Also the writings Plato and Socrates were just foolish right? The writings of Pain and G. Washington should be ignored too. We should completely disregard what our parents taught us too right? People that understand religion ... many are some of the smartest people in the world. One view .... is not the only way.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Roguey

      George, no, Socrates, far from foolish showed us how to use facts and logic to make good ethical decisions. Pain and Washington should not be ignored, they were wise, sober men. Do we follow their thought like mindless lambs? No, but we do take their thought on board because they are valid. Virtually nothing the Bible says is true, ethical, or has any relevance to our world.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Bill

      Really, nothing in the Bible has validity? How about every social teaching of Jesus? Love your enemies? Pray for those who hate you? Tend to the needs of the poor? Forgive? Love? Grace? Mercy? Self-sacrifice? This is what Jesus taught. Exactly which of these teachings (which is what the entire new testament is about) do you have trouble with?

      October 16, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  20. Robert E

    What Evangelicals don't realize is everyone has the right to go to Hell, even them.

    October 16, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Biggus Dickus

      You don't have the right to go to a nonexistent place. That's absurd! That's like the bit from Life of Brian:

      "Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans', but that he can have the right to have babies."

      October 16, 2011 at 7:58 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.