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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. JennyTX

    I'll bet a lot of Christians are secretly agnostic and terrified to admit it to themselves. I grew up going to church, but as an adult, I realized that religions are theories, not facts. That's why I don't go to church any more.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"I'll bet a lot of Christians are secretly agnostic and terrified to admit it to themselves. "

      You know if you change Christian to "people" and agnostic to "gay or Lesbian" .... your post is a echo of what a Lesbian stated I believe on a interview.

      Yep.. everyone is hiding. I think that is the claim made by many groups to increase their numbers.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:47 am |
  2. francis coutinho

    god is love,and that is the corner stone of chritianity.and jesus christ said if one follows the first two commandments you have have followed all ten commandments.chritianity forbids abortions or gays that is what atheist hate,may be some christian preachers commit some sins.but jesus has said follow what they say but do not do what they do, in terms of gays animals are better than humanbeings.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:36 am |
  3. Greg

    Good night to all of you.
    Know that no matter what you believe in, God loves you and Christ died for you so you could live.
    You are not going to be condemned only because you are not Christians.
    You will be condemned if you refuse to love others, and you all know that loving others, especially those who hurt you (righteously or not) is the toughest cookie. But Christ says you can love them. Not with your strength but with His strength.
    Guys – nobody wants to be loved by me or by you for we cannot love perfectly.
    Take the New Testament and read it with your opened heart (if you don't open you heart then you will waste your time.) You will see real love. A tough, but real love that we all deserve from our parents and that we have been given from God.
    You are here temporarily on this Earth. Don't waste your time for living an empty selfish life. Learn what love is.
    You will receive what you give. There is no other choice. You think you can? Try, and when you fail, remember one name – Christ.
    Blessings to you all. I hope I will see you all some day.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:34 am |
    • There Is Hope For Humans

      Greg, If you mean what you say then God's Blessings to you. The real basis of the Christian religion is to hear what Jesus has said and to apply it to every day life, but most importantly, apply it to our soul. Extend an open hand, not a clenched fist. Seems that people who dislike Christians only want to continuously point to the extreme religious radicals, those who take Jesus' name and use it for their own selfish personal gain. As is more and more common in todays world, any person that wants to unequivocally criticize someone else for their beliefs will purposely fail to acknowledge the good that has been done. Every day there are Christians who help one another and help people they don't know. There are Christians who reach out with extended hand and open arms and offer aid to those in need. But of course, these people do not often make headlines because society does not want to read about the good, only of the bad. Everything Jesus taught is to better ourselves as people, not to become hateful. Jesus helped those who society mocked or cast out. He healed and comforted, and His words give us hope.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:54 am |
  4. Argle Bargle

    Anyone tries to force their beliefs on another is wrong. If you believe in a god, then make sure you're 100% in that god's eyes before you start criticizing anyone else (for their failure to live up to your beliefs!) If your god requires you to do violence to another in his name, then he's a pretty worthless, toothless, powerless god. If you are against abortion, then don't have one. Otherwise, mind your own business.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well not to go into the abortion debate ...again ... I can understand your position but for the other side they will continue to see life began in the womb and that a person is commiting murder by having one. As hard as you scream it is a fetus they will scream it is a human life and neither will budge,

      October 16, 2011 at 4:42 am |
    • Nephilimfree

      "Anyone tries to force their beliefs on another is wrong."

      You're describing the militand, liberal, right-wing secularists there, not Christians. Ironic.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:58 am |
  5. Russell Hammond, Hollywood

    "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."

    Yet, many of these same evangelical "Christians" support the death penalty. Isn't all life sacred in God's eyes? Why the exception?

    October 16, 2011 at 4:25 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I am a pro life Christian and I challenged a Christian that was pro-death penalty. I am not sure of the chapter and verse but it is in the old testiment of the Bible that condones it.

      All I needed to corner him is to ask what did Jesus say about capital punishment and could he cast the first stone.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:28 am |
  6. JDinHouston

    Evangelicals are the greatest threat the US has ever faced. No single group wants more to destroy the country and replace it with exactly what our ancestors tried to escape in the first place – religion dictated through government. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:21 am |
  7. JJ

    So using this logic, as long as there is nobody to oppose the Evangelical point of view, then it's perfectly OK for them to push their agenda.

    "The vast majority of evangelicals are not attempting to create a theocracy, or to oppose democracy."

    And neither are these secular voices. You're lumping all into one group of extremists yet defend the Evangelicals by saying not all of "them" are out to get anybody. Talk about a double standard.............

    October 16, 2011 at 4:17 am |
  8. Bombkat

    I'm confused about how christians choose their moral battles. Alright, you are against abortion. Alright, you believe in creationism. Fine. But how do you also justify advocating against social programs that benefit the needy of our country and still call yourself a christian? I thought that charity and good will is also a part of your scripture. How can you demand political change (based on your faith) that will negatively impact the more unfortunate people when you appear to be choosing one path within your faith but ignoring another? I think your religious issues need some work, especially when it comes to that selflessness factor.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:16 am |
    • Brandon

      You must be obtuse

      October 16, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • Joe

      Maybe it's because Christians are already practicing charity and good will independently of government and prefer to do it in a more efficient, local environment rather than having billions wasted.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • Johnny Congo

      Most social aid programs that are designed to help the needy are run and founded by evangelicals.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:38 am |
  9. Bob Geary

    Evangelicals appear to believe their opinions and views are superior to all others and that is where the the problem begins. Many, if not most, Americans don't give a rats behind what Evangelicals think. As a matter of fact, they appear creepy on first impression. I appeal to Mr. Mohler to keep that in mind when addressing the public in future articles.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  10. maestro

    "Are evangelicals dangerous?"

    Yes. Yes they are.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:13 am |
  11. jer

    Separate church and state, if religion gets involved in polotics they should not have tax exempt status, plan and simple,

    October 16, 2011 at 4:10 am |
    • Shirl

      Thank You! Can you imagine how much that would boost the economy...

      October 16, 2011 at 4:21 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well, do not forget to get the Unions, charities, and other non-profits. Might as well drop all of their tax exempt status.... and we know how Unions like to publically endorse candidates.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:25 am |
    • Joe

      If the Southern Baptist Convention gets involved in politics, pull it's tax-exempt status, but if a Southern Baptist gets involved in politics that's a different matter. Separating church and state doesn't and never did mean eliminating religious views from political minds, rather it means not mandating belief or non-belief in a public setting.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:39 am |
  12. CT

    Evangelicals are dangerous when they want the government to make laws according to their interpretation of a book written by men claiming it to be the word of God.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • Anon

      better yet, the word of an obvious imaginary god created by men for men.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  13. aaaaa

    http://allyouneedtoknowaboutgod.com

    'nuff said

    October 16, 2011 at 4:07 am |
  14. Jerry L

    What about the voices of non-christians in the country, should you be speaking for them as well Albert? There is a reason we have a seperation of church and state.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:06 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ys, so the Government can not establish a church of its own.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:08 am |
  15. Bob O

    Anon, neither you nor the Christian can prove that God exists or not. Because neither of you have been to the other side of the curtain and back. At least the Christian admits that his belief is based on faith. Where is your proof?

    October 16, 2011 at 4:06 am |
    • Andrew

      It's been pointed out to you the flaw in this argument. You made it anyway. I have nothing but contempt for people who are given rather detailed corrections to inherently atrocious arguments, and then say the EXACT same thing as though fact is irrelevant.

      Get it into your incredibly dense (or trolling) mind. The burden of proof is not on the one who says something does not exist.

      You do not need to prove that unicorns do not exist to not believe in them.
      You do not need to prove that there isn't a teapot orbiting outside of Jupiter to not believe it.
      You do not need to prove that I'm a wizard who can make elephants appear out of nowhere to not believe it.

      The burden of proof is on the person making the positive claim, because if something doesn't exist, it's fundamentally impossible to prove it doesn't exist.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:10 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Sorry Andrew ,.the burden of proof is placed upon the person making the claim. Nice try though 🙂

      I think you lost it with the thick head insult, it is always a sign of a despirate person.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • Mirosal

      I think Bob O needs to read a little bit about "Russel's Teapot", but that might require him to finish that 3rd year of 6th grade to understand it.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • Joe

      A claim of non-existence is a positive claim, so if you state that God does not exist you need evidence to back that up. If you state that you don't think God exists, that's a negative claim and then the evidence needs to come from people claiming that he does exist. If you really want to get down to it, both religious people and atheist are making claims. Only skeptics (agnostics) are possibly exempt because they make no claims other than opposing those of others.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • Andrew

      Αgnostics comment on knowledge, notice how I was commenting on belief. Because I cannot prove that unicorns don't exist, I admit the possibility exists that they do. But if I were asked, I'd still say "unicorns don't exist". This semantic argument is always very silly, it's a trivial game of words. I admit the possibility of god, but belief in something just because it is possible is absurd.

      I am thus an agnostic atheist, I don't claim to have any ontological knowledge of the existence of god, but I certainly don't believe it exists.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  16. chad Harkins

    ANd not humane

    October 16, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  17. chad Harkins

    KILLING BABIES SUCK AND STUPID

    October 16, 2011 at 4:05 am |
  18. William

    "We’re dangerous only to those who want more secular voices to have a virtual monopoly in public life."

    You could say the very same thing about evangelicals and the hypocritical message they purvey, and the lives that they live. Seriously, that last time I checked, those "more secular voices", just want you people to STFU and listen to reason for once...but nooooo, you have to start down that short-circuit called faith.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:03 am |
  19. Anony

    The problem with people on both sides of this argument is that they confuse God and religion.
    God is not in a book, but God is also the being who ensouls this planet and everything it contains.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • Anon

      Which god? The abrahamic god of the three desert blood cults?

      October 16, 2011 at 4:04 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      He or she just stated it. The person holds that there is just a God and , if i am right , everyone of Faith declaring that enity as theirs alone when it is the same God,.

      October 16, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  20. Sue Thom

    This man is insane, nothing more and nothing less.

    October 16, 2011 at 3:54 am |
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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.