A Herd of Unicorns:
The Myth of Evangelical Political Engagement

Abortion, Evangelicals, Politics — By on May 1, 2008 at 1:00 am

Yesterday Phil Johnson, of the aptly named Pyromanics blog, threw gasoline on the flames of the debate about Christian involvement in politics with his provocatively titled post, “How Evangelicals Traded Their Spiritual Authority for a Mess of Political Pottage.” Near the conclusion Phil writes:

How did the evangelical movement get so far off track? I wouldn’t suggest that evangelicalism’s recent obsession with political activism is the only factor, but I do think it’s a major one. If the same energies and resources that were poured into failed political efforts had been channeled into evangelism instead, I’m convinced that would have been instrumental in producing more spiritual good and hindering more of society’s evils than all our lobbying, demonstrating, and voting combined.

I’m a fan of Phil’s work so it’s with some reticence that I criticize his argument. But it’s worth debating because it contains a commonly held erroneous view. Aside from the false dilemma and the assumption that energy and resources that produced a failure would have been successful had they only been applied elsewhere, Phil’s contention fails for the simple reason that his premise is based on a myth.

Contrary to what many secularists claim–and many Christians believe–we evangelicals are not all that politically involved. Sure, like most Americans we talk a lot about politics, especially in an election season. But the claim that we are involved in actual political activities–lobbying, organizing, campaigning, etc.–would be difficult to support with actual evidence.

I say this not only as a self-professed (and self-critical) member of the “religious right” but as one who has direct observation post on the political battlefield. From my vantage point it is easy to see that the commitment–much less the influence–of Christians in politics is wildly overstated.

For example, Family Research Council (FRC)–the premier lobbying organization of the Christian right in Washington, D.C.–has been attempting to collect signatures on an online petition asking President Bush to approve new Title X regulations ensuring that no taxpayer money goes to subsidize the abortion facilities of groups like Planned Parenthood.

To date, almost one million emails have been sent to Christians asking them to do nothing more than add their name. This is about as minor a level of commitment or involvement as it gets yet only about 3% have done so. More Christians voted for the 5th place contestant on last week’s American Idol than have petitioned to defund abortion mills.

This is the typical reaction at the grassroots level to almost every political initiative in the “religious right.” Lot’s of talk; little to no action.

FRC is considered one of the major players in the world of conservative evangelical politics. And yet the organization’s ability to have any influence or impact in the political realm is limited by the lack of grassroots commitment. Though FRC and similar groups attempt to rally the troops, they are unable to lead the army of politically engaged evangelicals because such a group is all but nonexistent. 

Phil himself alludes to the lack of political will on this issue, though he seems not to have realized the connection:

Now, consider the bitter irony of this: For more than two decades the number one issue on the agenda of the evangelical wing of the religious right has been abortion.

I would argue that the truly bitter irony is that this is perceived as the “number one” political issue for evangelicals when it really isn’t one of our top priorities. If evangelicals–and Christians in general–truly cared about this issue, abortion on demand would not be the law of the land.

Imagine if every Christian in America vowed not to cast a vote for any candidate of any party for any office if they supported or condoned the killing of the unborn. Imagine if every pastor in America had the courage to stand in the pulpit and deliver the Gospel-centric message that God abhors this slaughtering of the innocent and that for the church to tolerate this sin is a fecal-colored stain on the garment of Christ’s bride.

But it will never happen because the evangelical church isn’t committed as the church to rectifying this grave injustice. We never have been.

In a 1971 resolution on abortion, the Southern Baptist Convention resolved that “society has a responsibility to affirm through the laws of the state a high view of the sanctity of human life, including fetal life.” The largest evangelical denomination in America had a peculiar definition of “sanctity of human life”, however, for the very next sentence called upon Southern Baptists to “work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion” under such conditions as “fetal deformity” and damage to the “emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” Three years later–and two years after Roe codified this position–the SBC reaffirmed the resolution. It wasn’t until 1980 that the SBC finally condemned abortion as a grave evil, a position that has always been maintained by the Catholic Church.

Thirty-seven years later, we evangelicals still haven’t caught up on issues of the sanctity of life. Come to the annual March for Life held in Washington, D.C. every January and you’ll find fifty Catholics for every evangelical. For Catholics it is a moral, spiritual, and political issue. For evangelicals it nothing more than an emotional issue that we aren’t really dedicated to doing much about.

Surprisingly, Phil doesn’t recognize that it is precisely our lack of political will that has caused us to fail on this issue. He doesn’t even draw the obvious inference from his own observations:

Evangelicals have virtually nothing to show for all the time, energy, and resources they have invested in political efforts over the past three and a half decades….

Although by most accounts evangelicals constitute the largest single voting bloc in America, they have been remarkably ineffective when it comes to using politics to reverse America’s moral and spiritual decline. In fact, if you measure their success or failure according to their own stated political ambitions, evangelicals have failed spectacularly in America’s political arena. Over the past quarter century, they have not accomplished any of their top long-term legislative or constitutional goals.

Although there have been some significant achievement, Phil’s basic point is correct. But he fails to draw the obvious conclusion from the data. Rather than assuming that evangelicals are a large, powerful, committed political bloc that, for some inexplicable reason, is completely ineffective, the more realistic conclusion is that politically engaged evangelicals are like a herd of unicorns: powerful and abundant in the imagination while not actually existing in the real world.

Addendum:

There are some other parts of Phil’s post that are not necessarily germane to my point but that I felt needed to be addressed. I hope this is not taken as a personal shot at Phil, who I admire and respect. But because he is an influential Christian blogger and because many others would agree with him on these matters, I felt they were worth discussing.

In his post, Phil makes some general comments about Sen. McCain:

The candidate who it now appears will be the Republican nominee is a man who has been wobbly on the issues of abortion and same-sex unions, and he has repeatedly made it clear that he doesn’t share the passions of evangelical voters. He once referred to evangelical Republicans as “agents of intolerance.”

I’m not particularly fond of McCain and have taken many shots at him myself. However, I believe it is proper to clear up the confusion about his record. While McCain’s previous support of embryo-destructive research has made him inconsistently pro-life, he has not been wobbly on the issue of abortion. As Gerard V. Bradley notes:

[McCain] has served in Congress for 24 years, and cast a lot of votes on
abortion legislation during that time. His record is not merely
exemplary — it is perfect. McCain’s votes on abortion really could not
be better.

As for the marriage issue, since Jeremy Pierce has addressed McCain’s position in detail I’ll not rehash that here.

Also, it is not quite true that McCain referred to evangelical Republicans as “agents of intolerance.” During a speech he made the following comment:

The political tactics of division and slander are not our values, they are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country.

Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

Personally, I agree with McCain’s claim that Robertson and Falwell have used “political tactics of division and slander.” He was right to criticize them for such behavior and wrong to pander by later retracting his statement.

Despite our outspokenness on selected issues in the political realm, American evangelicals have sent a mixed and often flatly contradictory message to anyone who looks at the big picture. Evangelical pulpits are notoriously weak and shallow.

The pulpits are notoriously weak? Does that include the pulpits filled by Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, and Albert Mohler? Or what about Tim Keller, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R. C. Sproul? These men are some of the most influential leaders in evangelicalism. Are they all shallow?

It’s a common refrain that evangelical churches are all but worthless…except, of course, the churches that are headed up by our own pastors. No one can dispute that evangelical churches have problems. But even the apostle Paul–the greatest church planter in history–had trouble keeping his congregations focused on what truly matters. I can understand the point that Phil is trying to make, but I think it is unfair for him to make such a broad claim against the evangelical church.

For more than a decade now we have been hearing poll data that suggest people who identify themselves as evangelicals are just as susceptible to divorce and alcohol addiction as their unbelieving neighbors–which can only mean that our church rolls are filled with unconverted people. In fact, just about the only significant difference remaining between evangelicals and unbelievers is how we vote.

Contrary to Phil’s view–which is shared by many–there really is no significant difference between evangelicals and other voters. In 2000, ten million white evangelicals joined other Democrats in voting for Al Gore. And turnout among the members of the “religious right” was a mere 56 percent “only slightly higher than the national average–and actually lower than that of devout Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Jews.” (There is some evidence that voters who say they go to church every week usually vote for Republicans while those who go to church less often or not at all tend to vote Democratic. But the difference is similar to other factors that correlate with activities that connect a person to their community (e.g., owning a home).)

Phil also makes much ado about Ted Haggard, stating:
 

Consider the fact that almost no one in the evangelical world had more political savvy than Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Anyone who has ever interacted with Haggard would likely disagree. I met Haggard once at a political event and found him creepy and rude. He is certainly not a smooth political operator nor did he ever wield much true influence.

His title as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a group that uses Southern Baptist math to inflates its rolls (they claim 30 million “members”) got him a sit down with the President of the U.S. But the people who typically credit him with having any real influence are the same theocracy-phobic liberals who think that Haggard’s personal creepiness is a trait shared by all evangelicals.

In fact, it is my conviction that because they have invested so much in the political process, evangelicals have weakened their own movement with a tendency to compromise; they have sacrificed evangelical distinctives, and they have gone far off message from the central truths of the gospel.

I’m not sure exactly what he means by this. Have we failed to be distinctive because we have aligned with theological opponents on issues like abortion? And what political message have we embraced that has replaced “the central truths of the gospel”?

Political activism has been a disaster for the American evangelical movement on every front. Not only have we completely failed at the political process; we have failed even more egregiously to remain distinct from the world.

That has echoes of neo-Fundamentalism, a position that I’m sure Phil would reject. I suspect the same claim was made about Christian abolitionists who used the political process to protect their fellow man.

I want to be clear that I’m as opposed as Phil is to the
politicization of the pulpit. While I think he goes a bit far in his assessment,
he has a valid concern. I would expand the range and say that it is easy for
Christians to become distracted by politics as they are by sports, money,
business, and other pursuits. We must always be careful not to put anything ahead of the Gospel.

But I also must add that I think you cannot preach the
Gospel without also giving a full-throated condemnation to abject injustice.
While there are many areas of politics that the church would do well downplay
or to avoid completely, the destruction of innocent human life is not one of
them.



  • http://benedictionblogson.com Bene D

    Lot of money and work toward people, “not actually existing in the real world.”
    If they don’t exist, doesn’t the FRC exists to create them?
    Kenyn Cureton: Vice President for church ministries Family Research Council, April 2008
    “The pastors need to speak clearly about it. I’ll tell you we are working with the Alliance Defense Fund on a series of sermons this fall for pastors to preach, so that they educate their people on the issues.
    “We’re gonna be talking about the value of life, the value of family and the value of freedom, basically talking about abortion and stem-cell research,” he continued, “and then also about the gay agenda and then finally about our Christian heritage and how it’s being stripped from every corner of society. And then finally we’re gonna be doing a candidate comparison message that is going to ask pastors to cross the line.”
    We’re going,” he said, “to prompt pastors and say to them that, you know, we really believe that they need to challenge some of the things, some of the thinking that we have going on in our society, which is that separation of church and state doctrine, that we really need to preach the Bible on these issues and apply them to the things that are going on in the culture today.”

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    3% is considered outstanding when it comes to a direct mail response. About 1% is the general expectation of success.
    But to the issue: Evangelicalism is failing; evangelicalism has lost hope. It has forgotten how to do evangelism successfully. It has been slow in responding to scientism and naturalism. The age of revivals has passed. The age of postmillennial optimism has passed. Don McLean got it right:
    And in the streets the children screamed
    The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
    But not a word was spoken
    The church bells all were broken

    Collin

  • http://dontdrinkthekingswine.blogspot.com Daniel Briggs

    “To date, almost one million emails have been sent to Christians asking them to do nothing more than add their name. This is about as minor a level of commitment or involvement as it gets yet only about 3% have done so.”
    Joe, I receive these emails all the time and think they are a fantastic way to get the word out about important issues. I happen to have a passion to become engaged in the culture war, particularly in the battle over the sanctity of life. But I think part of the problem is found in the structural redundancy from Christian organizations at competition with each other. Each seeks to be THE best champion for (take your pick) religious liberty, sanctity of life, family values, academic freedom, etc. How much more effective would they be if they joined forces more often? For example, why not have Inter-Varsity, Campus Crusade, the Southern Baptist Convention, the 700 Club, the National Ass’n of Evangelicals, FRC, ADF, AFA, et al. send out a mass email and snail mailing to alert supporters to this Title X issue? These organizations may disagree on some things but surely they agree that abortion should not be funded with federal tax dollars. Am I way off here?
    “Though FRC and similar groups attempt to rally the troops, they are unable to lead the army of politically engaged evangelicals because such a group is all but nonexistent.”
    I have to disagree with you there. The army is growing but FRC and similar groups have to look in new places. Law schools, for one, are fertile grounds filled with a generation of people who are typically very interested in social issues and in politics in general (see, e.g., ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship). Imagine what FRC and its allies could accomplish if they helped law students (and grad and undergrad students) use their educations—often obtained in a fog of discussion devoid of any real truth…or Truth—to engage in the culture. Possibilities abound! I’m young and probably naïve, but I really do believe that there are those in my generation who desperately want to become engaged.

  • http://dontdrinkthekingswine.blogspot.com Daniel Briggs

    Collin,
    On your point about the age of revivals having passed, I ask you to watch this sermon by Paul Washer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=uuabITeO4l8
    The YouTube title calls this video “shocking.” What is truly shocking is that this message is considered shocking. Washer is blunt, to put it mildly. But his heart for God is unmistakable and his love for a lost and dying world is evident. I’m 27 and I never heard sermons like this before. When I heard this, I felt so challenged, convicted and (later) encouraged! I firmly believe that a revival is imminent in our society. I don’t know how much closer to the precipice we will go, but I believe a revival is on the horizon.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Excellent counterarguments Joe. I comment on both blogs and this was not one of Phil’s better efforts. I agree that he’s shading towards a false antithesis.

  • Farnicle

    You may be failing to take into account the fact that “evangelical” is a big-tent idea these days. There’s a large cohort of 20-something evangelicals who are not single-issue voters, who are more concerned with the “authentic” and the “real” and living out lives driven by theology than just getting all their theological ducks in a row, so to speak. I imagine part of the probem is that traditional evangelicals have so narrowed the focus of their concern (abortion, gay marriage, “values”) that the heathen don’t hear the gospel. When society only thinks of Christians in terms of abortion, homosexuality and the Republican party, it’s not surprising that the gospel gets put in the back seat.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    “When society only thinks of Christians in terms of abortion, homosexuality and the Republican party, it’s not surprising that the gospel gets put in the back seat.”
    Shrug. You can thank the mainstream secular media and Hollywood for influencing the way many people in society think of Christians.

  • http://centuri0n.blogspot.com Frank Turk

    Joe —
    I think there is significant overlap between your critique of what Phil said and Phil’s critique of Republicangelicalism.
    On the one hand, Phil’s beef is against those who want to make politics and government the replacement for the church — the idea that Christians ouught to coerce the government to do the things the church ought to be doing, socially.
    On the other, your complaint (which I think is totally valid) is that while some Christians are politically active, there’s no way to represent what is happening and has happened as a theonomic groundswell which gains the whole world (of political power) but loses its soul.
    I think that there’s a way to phrase both of these complaints which, frankly, represents all the facts. Let’s try this out:
    There is a theological and pragmatic pandemic in the American church today, both on the left and the right, in which talk about the social implications of the Gospel and Christ has replaced actual discipleship and church life.
    Let me float that out there and see what you and Phil think about that — because I think you are not as far away from each other as some might perceive.
    And your strong language today was, frankly, like a shot of espresso.

  • http://dontdrinkthekingswine.blogspot.com Daniel Briggs

    Truth Unites wrote: “You can thank the mainstream secular media and Hollywood for influencing the way many people in society think of Christians.”
    I agree. For those desiring to mock caricatures of any faith, this is not difficult, particularly with the MSM as propagandist in chief.

  • Farnicle

    Dude!
    “We’re gonna be talking about the value of life, the value of family and the value of freedom, basically talking about abortion and stem-cell research,” he continued, “and then also about the gay agenda and then finally about our Christian heritage and how it’s being stripped from every corner of society. And then finally we’re gonna be doing a candidate comparison message that is going to ask pastors to cross the line.”
    That’s the Family Research Council in 2008, quoted in the first post of this comment thread. How could the MSM possibly distort this message? The message is about abortion, homosexuality and “values.” It’s not about the gospel. Where is the “mock caricature” when the FRC promotes the very view I described?

  • http://dontdrinkthekingswine.blogspot.com Daniel Briggs

    Farnicle wrote: “There’s a large cohort of 20-something evangelicals who are not single-issue voters, who are more concerned with the “authentic” and the “real” and living out lives . . . part of the probem is that traditional evangelicals have so narrowed the focus of their concern (abortion, gay marriage, “values”) that the heathen don’t hear the gospel. . . it’s not surprising that the gospel gets put in the back seat.”
    Let me preface what I’m about to write by stating that I do not want to engage in a tit-for-tat with you; if the following provokes this reaction, I apologize since it’s not my intent.
    First off, I grow tired of hearing complaints against “single-issue voters.” I believe abortion is a holocaust in the womb, taking more than 48.5 MILLION lives since Roe. Would anyone fault someone from being a “single-issue voter” if the issue was the holocaust against the Jews?
    As to living out lives that are “authentic” and “real,” what could be more authentic than to defend the sanctity of life, God’s design for marriage, and the family unit?
    You say the gospel gets put in the back seat. What is the gospel? Of course, this: “I am the Way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” And also, this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Abortion kills. Same sex marriage robs people of God’s design for marriage and destroys the fabric of society. These issues are part of the gospel, aren’t they?

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Bene If they don’t exist, doesn’t the FRC exists to create them?
    Hmm, I would say “no” but I can’t speak for everyone here. Also, FRC has been around for 25 years so the organization has had plenty of time to create a mass movement if that was the goal.
    By the way, what do you personally think about pastors speaking out against abortion from the pulpit? Do you think they have a moral imperative to do so?
    Daniel These organizations may disagree on some things but surely they agree that abortion should not be funded with federal tax dollars. Am I way off here?
    You make a great point. And there has been a lot of cross-interaction between many of these groups. But even when they agree on the substance, individual differences in style can prevent them from fully integrating.
    It’s similar to a project I tried to start a few years ago. I suggested to a few other Christian bloggers that we should join forces for one group blog so that we could have a broader impact. One of them pointed out that he had readers that simply didn’t like me and would stop reading if I were part of the team. It was a good reminder that style and personality are a big reason there is a diversity of organizations even on shared issues.
    Farnicle When society only thinks of Christians in terms of abortion, homosexuality and the Republican party, it’s not surprising that the gospel gets put in the back seat.
    True, but part of the problem is also that too many people in our society would reject the Gospel because it does mean rejecting abortion and homosexuality.
    Frank I think there is significant overlap between your critique of what Phil said and Phil’s critique of Republicangelicalism.
    I agree and probably should have been more clear that me and Phil are broadly in agreement.
    On the one hand, Phil’s beef is against those who want to make politics and government the replacement for the church — the idea that Christians ought to coerce the government to do the things the church ought to be doing, socially.
    I’m completely with him there.
    There is a theological and pragmatic pandemic in the American church today, both on the left and the right, in which talk about the social implications of the Gospel and Christ has replaced actual discipleship and church life.
    That’s great. I think that’s exactly right (though I would add the caveat that the Gospel does does have social implications). Disciple-making should be a top priority in every evangelical church, yet it is often either completely absent or relegated to a “program” that competes with the church’s social events.
    If we concentrated more on making disciples we would have less need to worry with issues like politics.
    (Although it may seem odd considering where I live and work, I actually have very little interest in politics. I care about certain issues which are pushed into the political realm. But actual politics bores me to tears.)
    And your strong language today was, frankly, like a shot of espresso.
    It’s from reading too much Pyro. You guys are rubbing off on me. ; )

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Farnicle: How could the MSM possibly distort this message? The message is about abortion, homosexuality and “values.” It’s not about the gospel. Where is the “mock caricature” when the FRC promotes the very view I described?
    FRC is living out the Gospel. And they certainly do preach the Gospel.
    Consider this statement from Martin Luther:
    “If I declare with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of God’s Truth except for that one little bit which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ no matter how boldly I may be professing Christ. For the soldier to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that single point.”
    Bible-believing disciples of Christ would be grossly defaming and dishonoring God if they were to flinch at the points where the secular culture is attacking on the issues of abortion and gay marriage. Abandonment on these issues would be a grave dereliction of duty to Christ.
    Sorry dude. Those are non-negotiables. Besides, think about it for a second. What kind of Gospel witness would it be if Christians didn’t have the moral courage to uphold God’s Word which clearly declares that abortion and gay marriage are grave sin?

  • ex-preacher

    A couple points:
    1. Not all evangelicals oppose abortion. Contrary to what TUAD says, the Bible does not clearly condemn abortion. There are a few verses from which anti-abortion Christians argue, but they are subject to alternate interpretations. Abortion existed in the Roman world, but nowhere does any New Testament writer address the topic.
    2. Perhaps many evangelicals are smart enough and curious enough to find out that Title X already specifically prohibits the funding of abortions.

  • http://dontdrinkthekingswine.blogspot.com Daniel Briggs

    Truth Unites, do you have a blog? If so, I’d love to read it. If not, what are you waiting for? Get on it! :o)

  • “Luther”

    It seems to be the case that most “evangelicals” do not want to take responsibility for being Protestants. They are, politically, handmaidens to the Republican Party and theologically they are new age Christians who keep claiming to be traditionalists.
    In the 1970s, when it became apparent that evangelicalism became Evangelicalism it became ripe for hustlers who wanted to avoid the denominational system and just perpetually sell the gospel as if it were a product instead of eternal truth. The modern day Evangelical is more salesman than witness for Christ, but as long as they keep voting Republican and water down Protestantism it will be a joke.

  • “Luther”

    “Evangelical” has had multiple meanings associated with it, both as a term within the Christian tradition, more broadly and the Anglo-Protestant tradition more specifically. Since, Protestantism has been the dominant form of religion since the inception of the United States; it has been one of the most essential methods for justifying White Anglo Saxon hegemony. Evangelists, evangelicalism and evangelizing are modes of proselytizing, for Protestantism to spread, replicate and provide the rational metaphysics of the faith and, more importantly, to spread, replicate and provide the rational metaphysics of the racialized state, it benefited from, so immensely. However, for most of the history of Anglo-American Protestantism, evangelists, evangelicalism and evangelizing were not understood as a separate religious identity apart from the Protestant denominations that employed it. This would not happen until the late 1970’s, when a coven of Republican political strategist, right-wing activists, and neo-Evangelicals successfully co-opt “evangelical” to form a new religious identity, apart from the traditional and mainstream Protestant denominations.
    Right-Wing economic theories have been the priority of Evangelical elites. Abortion, gays, and other hot-button issues keep the yahoos in the Republican camp, however, it’s the tax-codes that keep the Evangelical elites happy.
    The political priorities of the Evangelicals of Blacks and Latinos are in direct opposition to white Evangelicals, because it has never been about abortion or porn or whatever claims white evangelicals are making. Politics have been about taxes and how the government spends. White evangelicals put the wealthy and wars before the priorities of other communities, and they notice.

  • Farnicle

    “FRC is living out the Gospel.” Glad to hear it; of course, that’s beside the point. Did the MSM distort the FRC’s message? No. What is the FRC’s message? Abortion, homosexuality, values. Does this obscure the gospel? Yes.
    “part of the problem is also that too many people in our society would reject the Gospel because it does mean rejecting abortion and homosexuality.”
    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Are you seriously suggesting that if I’m an alcoholic, I won’t become a Christian unless evangleicals makes it clear that you shouldn’t drink? Or is it that if I have anger problems, I need to enroll in anger mangement courses before I can make a profession of faith? If the syllogism is behave, believe, belong, that’s antithetical to the gospel. But just not sure what point you’re trying to make.
    “the secular culture is attacking on the issues of abortion and gay marriage.”
    No, the secular culture is attacking on the issue of loving God with all your heart soul, mind and strength. If you accept that, the rest falls into place. But evangelicals fail to focus on the root of the problem. So it’s not difficult for people to conclude that Christians just want a world in which there are no abortions and the homosexuals don’t get married and their “values” are legally enforceable.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Daniel Briggs: Truth Unites, do you have a blog? If so, I’d love to read it. If not, what are you waiting for? Get on it! :o)
    Dear Daniel, shameless and repetitive flattery will get you everywhere with me. ;-)
    Incidentally, you’re the 2nd or 3rd person who suggested that I should set up my own blog. But I honestly don’t think I’m worthy. And besides there are already so many fine blogs out there as it is.
    And honestly, I’m trying to wean myself away from blogging so much. It’s been tough because this is such an enjoyable media and it’s fun to learn and to engage with others. But it takes a lot of time away from things I should be doing. I don’t self-regulate very well. So I actually want to blog less, much less.
    Here’s a blog article that I read several weeks ago which deeply resonated with me and captured exactly what I’ve been experiencing:
    Goodbye, Blog
    I should probably add this qualifier. Other people should blog! They do it for the glory of God. “Evangelical Outpost” is a great example. But for me, and my walk with the Lord, I need to lurk more and blog less.
    Peace and Blessings Daniel Briggs.
    Yours in Christ,
    Truth Unites… and Divides

  • http://godsnowhere.wordpress.com Erik

    i enjoyed reading both your article and phil’s. just a couple of thoughts for clarification purposes:
    – how is abortion a “gospel-centric” issue? there are over 2,000 portions of scripture about feeding the hungry and caring for the poor…9 sections about homosexuality…and 0 about abortion. jesus never spoke of homosexuality or abortion – but spoke often about religious piety and social injustice. i had a hard time following your claim that abortion is gospel-centric.
    – you mention that divorce rates are the same among church goers and non-church goers? isn’t that a problem…especially for something that IS gospel-centric? (matthew 19, matthew 5:27-32)
    – i found it interesting that you say the evangelical movement doesn’t make abortion it’s primary issue…and you spent a majority of your post talking about abortion
    – wasn’t ted haggard the spiritual advisor to george w. bush…meeting with him every monday morning via conference call? i seem to recall his influence in the bush white house as being slightly more astute than, “not a smooth political operator nor did he ever wield much true influence.”
    i like your writing and your insights, joe…some of the best on the web. i just thought your arguments came off weaker than they normally do. doesn’t mean i’ll stop reading or stop thinking you do a great job!

  • http://bibchr.blogspot.com Dan Phillips

    Joe CarterYou guys are rubbing off on me. ; )
    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

  • http://reasonablenuts.com Protagonist

    I’m not active in any effort to oppose the legality of abortion and don’t believe that it should necessarily be illegal. This does not make me any less of a Christian.
    What’s going on here is backwards. Christians are trying to influence secular government of a pre-dominantly secular and unsaved society to make unsaved women not abort their children, but to bear them and (somehow) keep them living in said unsaved country. This is the same government that has failed with every other vice prohibition it’s tried: drugs, alcohol, gambling, and abortion when it was previously illegal.
    Even if anti-abortion activists got all the law they wanted, it’s yet to be proven to me that it will prevent abortion on a large scale and not backfire into an expensive, hypocritical and authoritarian quagmire like we’ve seen before. Abortifacts will be easily homemade or acquired from jurisdictions where they are illegal, and no one is going to be able to make an unwilling mother bear and love her children.
    The real problem with Evangelical Christians is that somewhere down the line, moral struggles became legal/political struggles; not that they are badly working in the political system, but they are working in it at all. Someone above quoted the statistic of 48.5 million abortions since 1973. What about the 100 million +/- souls that have died unsaved in that same time? I’m sure alot of abortions happened in Ninevah, Babylon and Rome; it doesn’t matter a lick what those societies–along with ours–do and don’t do unless and until they repent to God.
    And don’t respond with the false dilemma, walk-and-chew-bubblegum-at-the-same-time arguments about evangelism and activism. Getting society to repent to God, which cannot be done with a Constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court majority, is a condition precedent to the church being able to make any moral demands on that society.

  • http://teampyro.blogspot.com/ Phillip Johnson

    Joe is no doubt correct that actual grassroots involvement in the political process is pretty low. The number of professing Christians willing to turn off “American Idol” and take the Great Commission seriously is probably even lower.
    Joe seems to think evangelical apathy proves my whole argument is invalid. But he is actually proving my point.
    Incidentally, I didn’t suggest that Evangelicals have done well organizing, mobilizing, and integrating their own rank-and-file into the political process. In fact, I said nothing at all about the level of grassroots involvement. What I complained about was the inordinate amount of energy and resources that are spent by evangelical organizations and leaders for politics rather than evangelism.
    Here’s a major part of the problem with trying to drum up evangelical zeal over something as mundane as politics: It’s uninspiring compared to the challenge of the gospel, and it has helped breed a generation of evangelical couch potatoes who think sending Dobson or the Republican party a check fulfills their duty to “engage the culture.” But the typical evangelical is no more a true activist than the liberal fat cat or Hollywood celebrity who thinks if she buys enough carbon credits she is really helping change the world.
    But the answer isn’t to invest more energy and resources into political lobbying. It’s to get off the couch and back into the world with the gospel.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Erik how is abortion a “gospel-centric” issue? there are over 2,000
    portions of scripture about feeding the hungry and caring for the poor…9 sections about homosexuality…and 0 about abortion. jesus
    never spoke of homosexuality or abortion – but spoke often about religious piety and social injustice. i had a hard time following your
    claim that abortion is gospel-centric.

    Great question. I think the answer depends on what we mean by the “Gospel.” If it is just the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John then all we need to do is use the Bible as a textbook to see what Jesus thinks about a certain issue. If we use this approach, then obviously abortion is not a “gospel” issues.
    But I think the term refers to “the news—in toto–about Jesus Christ.” If Jesus cares about an issue then we too should care about it. That is why I think it is “gospel-centric” to talk about abortion. God created the life that we are allowed to be killed. If that isn’t a matter of injustice then I don’t know what is.
    - you mention that divorce rates are the same among church goers and non-church goers? isn’t that a problem…especially for something that IS gospel-centric? (matthew 19, matthew 5:27-32)
    Actually, that was Phil’s stat. I’m rather skeptical about that one.
    - i found it interesting that you say the evangelical movement doesn’t make abortion it’s primary issue…and you spent a majority of your post talking about abortion
    Oh, I think it should be a primary issue, I just think that it is not. Evangelicals as a group mostly give lip service to the issue but don’t do much about it.
    - wasn’t ted haggard the spiritual advisor to george w. bush…meeting with him every monday morning via conference call?
    That liberal reporter Jeff Sharlett is the one that came up with the claim that Haggard “spoke to Bush or his advisors” every Monday. From what I’ve heard, that is a boast that Sharlett swallowed whole without checking with the WH.

  • ucfengr

    This is the same government that has failed with every other vice prohibition it’s tried: drugs, alcohol, gambling, and abortion when it was previously illegal.
    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “one of these things is not like the other”. Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life; its moral significance is orders of magnitude greater than blowing a doob, tossing down frosty, cold one, or throwing a fiver into the office football pool, or at least it should be for a Christian.

  • “Luther”

    The latest round is a letter from the Evangelical Elites asking the National Association of Evangelicals to fire Richard Cizik, ostensibly because he thinks we ought to do something about global warming. When you get to the end of the letter though, you find out what their real problem is:
    Finally, Cizik’s disturbing views seem to be contributing to growing confusion about the very term, “evangelical.” As a recent USA Today article notes: “Evangelical was the label of choice of Christians with conservative views on politics, economics and biblical morality. Now the word may be losing its moorings, sliding toward the same linguistic demise that “fundamentalist” met decades ago because it has been misunderstood, misappropriated and maligned.” We believe some of that misunderstanding about evangelicalism and its “conservative views on politics, economics and biblical morality” can be laid at Richard Cizik’s door.
    Well, that’s clear enough, isn’t it? It’s not just that they want to stay focused on abortion and gay marriage, the Dobson crowd’s usual hot buttons. Their agenda is far broader: they want to make sure that evangelical Christians stay closely aligned with conservative views on “politics [and] economics.” In other words (say it quietly, since the IRS is listening) Republican Party views. Opening up the evangelical agenda to topics such as citizenship for illegal immigrants, universal healthcare, and caps on carbon emissions risks finding common ground with Democrats:
    The best-known champion of such causes, the Rev. Jim Wallis, this week challenged conservative crusader James C. Dobson, the chairman of Focus on the Family, to a debate on evangelical priorities.
    “Are the only really ‘great moral issues’ those concerning abortion, gay marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence?” Wallis asked in his challenge. “How about the reality of 3 billion of God’s children living on less than $2 per day? … What about pandemics like HIV/AIDS … [and] disastrous wars like Iraq?”
    The”>http://www.citizenlink.org/pdfs/NAELetterFinal.pdf”>The Letter
    The Republican Party owns white Evangelicals.

  • “Luther”

    The latest round is a letter from the Evangelical Elites asking the National Association of Evangelicals to fire Richard Cizik, ostensibly because he thinks we ought to do something about global warming. When you get to the end of the letter though, you find out what their real problem is:
    Finally, Cizik’s disturbing views seem to be contributing to growing confusion about the very term, “evangelical.” As a recent USA Today article notes: “Evangelical was the label of choice of Christians with conservative views on politics, economics and biblical morality. Now the word may be losing its moorings, sliding toward the same linguistic demise that “fundamentalist” met decades ago because it has been misunderstood, misappropriated and maligned.” We believe some of that misunderstanding about evangelicalism and its “conservative views on politics, economics and biblical morality” can be laid at Richard Cizik’s door.
    Well, that’s clear enough, isn’t it? It’s not just that they want to stay focused on abortion and gay marriage, the Dobson crowd’s usual hot buttons. Their agenda is far broader: they want to make sure that evangelical Christians stay closely aligned with conservative views on “politics [and] economics.” In other words (say it quietly, since the IRS is listening) Republican Party views. Opening up the evangelical agenda to topics such as citizenship for illegal immigrants, universal healthcare, and caps on carbon emissions risks finding common ground with Democrats:
    The best-known champion of such causes, the Rev. Jim Wallis, this week challenged conservative crusader James C. Dobson, the chairman of Focus on the Family, to a debate on evangelical priorities.
    “Are the only really ‘great moral issues’ those concerning abortion, gay marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence?” Wallis asked in his challenge. “How about the reality of 3 billion of God’s children living on less than $2 per day? … What about pandemics like HIV/AIDS … [and] disastrous wars like Iraq?”
    The”>http://www.citizenlink.org/pdfs/NAELetterFinal.pdf”>The Letter
    The Republican Party owns white Evangelicals.

  • http://truegrit.weblogs.us/ Ilona

    I thought the “herd of unicorns” title was funny:)
    Seriously, now, when was success and motivation to evangelize engineered by merely our will, impassioned emotions, and sweat of the brow? When did it stop being a work of the Spirit through willing vessels? I think it is a case of mistaken representation to say political activism automatically coexists with passivity of faith, as if it were the serving of two masters.
    For some, it might be in individual cases, even individual churches, but I don’t think we can claim it is true to make the presumption that all that energy was wasted in worldly endeavors when it might have been better put to use for the “spiritual”. Sort of like when the disciples complained that the ointment poured on Jesus feet was wasted- could have been sold to give to the poor.
    Many who have been engaged in political efforts -whether those are deemed failed or not- did so based on issues that called for action to give feet to their faith and to live out their witness. Being doers and not just hearers of the gospel- we have had plenty of those who “evangelize” without putting themselves on the line to make use of their citizen rights to uphold their moral mandate from the gospel.
    And there is a moral mandate…which can sometimes prove political in our system here in the USA.
    What stops us from being both more evangelistic in sharing the good news of the gospel while at the same time using our political rights to live out that gospel? I think it is a false dilemma to say one supercedes or in fact superceded the other.
    I think, for much of the Church, if we hadn’t made political efforts then we would’ve found something else, if it were merely a case of not being spiritual enough to give more time to evangelism.
    Besides that, I do think that the idea of a religious right was a temporary aberration, something that appeared to be a political movement when it actually was a coalescing of several moral movements of convicted Christians. I think the whole thing was fundamentally misunderstood by all of us at the time. It is clearer now that we are not strongly behind a party or particular candidate, but still convinced of our moral mandate on many of the political issues.
    I wonder if the only way we will have a clear demarcation between our moral influence and our civic duty is when the rights of freedom are gone from the civic arena- God forbid that! Until such a sad day we have an overlap of political action and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have a duty to provide a living witness of what it means to be Christian…aside from preaching to the masses.
    Where I agree that there has been a problem is when the action is conflated with the purpose. The salvation never came from the government, no matter how enlightened that system seems… the salvation always came from the Lord…which brings me back around to what is it we expect from our own efforts anyway? Without the Lord we can do nothing.
    It is that simple on all fronts: evangelism and political activism.

  • JohnW

    It might not be that evangelicals are not politically involved, but perhaps there are just not as many evangelicals in our country as the media would have us believe. That’s the premise of a new book I am reading-The Fall of the Evangelical Nation (The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church) by Christine Wicker. It sounds plausible.

  • http://www.psonnets.org/ Michael

    Joe, I ignore Internet petitions. They are wastes of time that politicians dismiss. Furthermore, I think many professing believers accept abortion. They may not openly say they think abortion is a necessary evil, since they know they might have their heads handed to them, but they would stand their pregnant daughters and wives in lines for abortions for the “right” reasons. I am sure the situation with Paul was similar. People do what they want to do most of the time, and damn the consequences.
    I think Obama, for example, is like this. I do not think he believes everything, or even most, of what Jeremiah Wright preaches. He sat in the pews for 20 years, and he, like surely most of the people in that church, said the amens and so on, but never put into practice anything Wright preached, good or bad. You put your one Sunday in a week, and the rest of the week, you do whatever you want.

  • K-W

    Luther,
    It seems that you would say that for evangelicals to care about abortion, homosexuality, and abstinence is like tithing the tenth of our mint, rue, and herbs when weightier matters, like AIDS, poverty, ect., are being ignored. Note, that if I granted you that observation, the response in the vein of Christ’s teachings is to address the latter without neglecting the former. The fact that there are more issues besides those big two or three does not mean that the two or three should be dropped.
    Oh, and your history of modern evangelicalism is simply wrong. The movement, and the use of the term as a reference to conservative protestants, goes back at least to Carl Henry in the 40’s and 50’s, and then it was as a revival of the term used to describe revivalist protestants before the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the early 20th century. The fact that “evangelicals”/fundamentalists and their leaders were largely disengaged from politics until the 70’s does not mean that the movement was invented by the political organizers of the 70’s and 80’s.

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey

    There’s been a lot of good talk about the gospel side, or lack thereof, but far too little about real politics.
    “Politics” is about gov’t. The gov’t is about force. Force is the opposite of peace. Christian solutions to problems should be peaceful solutions. Gov’t solutions are not peaceful solutions.
    In the Old Testament, justice is an “Eye for Eye” (forced, if necessary).
    Jesus is often clear on what is an injustice — but seldom is his “justice” so clear; examples instead show his personal mercy. “Go, and sin no more.”
    Few Christians really want to live where gov’t justice means no prisons, nor any punishment greater than admonishment “sin no more.”
    For me, individuals need to practice mercy, and grant forgiveness to those who have wronged them when the wrongdoers ask for forgiveness — not in advance, and not without asking. But lots of forgiveness.
    Society, in order to maintain law with we Fallen Sinners (like myself), must have punishments in order to realistically reduce the sins by punishing them.
    Almost all Christians want less abortion. Most are not happy about the idea of punishing the women who have unwanted pregnancies.
    What is a just and Christian use of gov’t force?
    Pro-life folk have been systematically excluded from the Dem Party despite so many big gov’t anti-poverty sympathies (and thus, by default, the anti-tax small gov’t Republicans have accepted them, and created winning political coalitions that have generally not advanced ‘family values’ much, but perhaps have delayed the Dem Party assault). Pro-life Christians should push to be MORE politically active at the local school level, local Republican Party city, county, and state levels, and should be looking for Christians willing to be public servants for political office. Active Christians could dominate the Rep. Party, if they were in agreement to do so.
    Pro-life Judges are crucial. It was elitist activist judges that created national abortion rights. Reading the US Constitution is easier than reading the whole Bible, and more clear. No word about abortion. But there IS a word about all subjects not covered. That’s the 10th:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
    When Roe is overturned, that will more Constitutionally return the US to states laws — with some Red states making abortion illegal (thanks to the Rep Party, supported by Christians), and some Blue states making or keeping (made legal before 1973) it legal.
    And where it is illegal, what will the Christian supported punishments be?
    In Poland, there is no punishment on the women, but doctors are forbidden to perform most voluntary abortions. That seems a likely model to follow.

  • Farnicle

    “And where it is illegal, what will the Christian supported punishments be?
    In Poland, there is no punishment on the women, but doctors are forbidden to perform most voluntary abortions. That seems a likely model to follow.”
    But it’s murder. How is pre-meditated murder of embryos not punishable in the same way that murders of viable human beings are punished? What’s the biblical distinction?

  • “Luther”

    K-W,
    I think the abortion and gay issues are shallow issues, however they keep many single-issue voters tied to the Republican Party with naive “blind faith.” The Republican Party, let alone most Protestants (and most Roman Catholics) have no intention of making abortion illegal and homosexuality is becoming normative (It is incredible how many gay Christians are embracing anti-abortion politics). Yet, right-wing economic theories concerning state power (war and authoritarianism) and taxation are fully embraced by Republicans and Evangelical elites, which I think is the whole point.
    At some point Evangelicals have to admit to being naive or willfully disingenuous concerning the “holocaust” that is abortion. Killing a fetus or zygote or embryo, is not the same as murdering a baby.
    And the way “Evangelicals” have embraced warmongering with the “born-again” President, because they were scared or what other rationalizations to engage in the mass death and destruction of foreign babies, children, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts whole entire families, of which there is no debate about their right-to-life, belies the whole “Culture-Of-Life” trope. Most denominational Protestant churches came out against the war, while self-identifying WHITE evangelicals embraced mass death and destruction with revivalestic zeal.
    This war and this president should be the albatross around the neck of these naive and/or racists Protestants, aka white Evangelicals. The right-to-life seems to be valued for the imagined/debatable human beings, while actual human beings are annoyances to be killed.

  • “Luther”

    I think the abortion and gay issues are shallow issues, however they keep many single-issue voters tied to the Republican Party with naive “blind faith.” The Republican Party, let alone most Protestants (and most Roman Catholics) have no intention of making abortion illegal and homosexuality is becoming normative (It is incredible how many gay Christians are embracing anti-abortion politics). Yet, right-wing economic theories concerning state power (war and authoritarianism) and taxation are fully embraced by Republicans and Evangelical elites, which I think is the whole point.
    At some point Evangelicals have to admit to being naive or willfully disingenuous concerning the “holocaust” that is abortion. Killing a fetus or zygote or embryo, is not the same as murdering a baby.
    And the way “Evangelicals” have embraced warmongering with the “born-again” President, because they were scared or what other rationalizations to engage in the mass death and destruction of foreign babies, children, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts whole entire families, of which there is no debate about their right-to-life, belies the whole “Culture-Of-Life” trope. Most denominational Protestant churches came out against the war, while self-identifying WHITE evangelicals embraced mass death and destruction with revivalestic zeal.
    This war and this president should be the albatross around the neck of these naive and/or racists Protestants. The right-to-life seems to be valued for the imagined/debatable human beings, while actual human beings are annoyances to be killed.

  • JohnW

    Luther,
    You don’t understand we don’t live near Iraq, most likely don’t know any Iraqis, and we don’t get visual images of death and destruction in Iraq, so the Iraq war just doesn’t “seem” like a pro-life issue.
    People got all outraged over the VA Tech. murders and put signs on their porches, formed internet prayer chains and were rightfully concerned about the tragic loss of life. Every day in Iraq a suicide bomber will do the same thing and not one peep from James Dobson, et. all. If you point this out, you get attacted as being too political and not sensitive to the tragedy.

  • smmtheory

    …let alone most Protestants (and most Roman Catholics) have no intention of making abortion illegal…

    Please, do us Roman Catholics a favor and quit pretending to speak for us.

  • Raymond V. Banner

    To Joe Carter in particular & others in general:
    Thank you Joe for standing strong for preborn life and for the sanctity of marriage between male and female. I think your analysis of the weakness of Evangelical political action is partially, but not entirely, correct. I consider several factors limiting the effectiveness of Evangelical influence on the political process:
    (1)Evangelicals are divided in their priorities.
    This division is, I conjecture, becoming more prominent as some evangelicals want to be considered more broad or more tolerant in their approach. There is the evangelical left which is a part of the Democrat party. (2)Then there are those, such as Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, that are trying to find more acceptance from the general political public by “warming up” to bogus issues like global warming, which is supported with a false
    “religious” passion by many on the secular left.
    (3)There is considerable luke warmness among many professing evangelicals who have little passion for either deep spirituality or moral concerns. (4) Evangelicals often put their faith and families first, whereas many on the left and in such movements as the homosexual movement,
    make political involvement a major passion. They approach politics almost as a religious devotion.
    (5) The spirit of the world has always been opposed to the Spirit of Christ and the outworking of the doctrines and practices of the Christian faith. Sexual promiscuity, family breakdown, abortion and homosexuality are especially a prominent part of the zeitgeist or
    “spirit of our age” and dedicated Christian are naturally going to be opposed by speaking out and working against the great evils of our age.
    The perversion of sex and devaluation of life were prominent in the decline of Israel in Old Testament history as it was prominent in the tribes and nations that preceded them and has been prominent in the decline of nations following.
    We are still called to be strong and faithful in the living out in our own lives and in our witness to the people of our time the
    teachings and practices of Biblical truth. Were the Holy Spirit of God to grant us a genuine Christian revival our nation would receive a moral/cultural strengthening as one of the benefits. May such a Christian revival come for the sake of our eternal souls and the sake of our culture and nation and world as well.

  • “Luther”

    smmtheory,
    If you have proof, Roman Catholics seem to want to make Roe V. Wade as illegal as divorce, please show me. And many self proclaimed Christians seem to think the zygotes and fetuses of the United States have a right-to-life that people in the Middle East just do not have. For all of your self-righteous moralizing, the nihilism and decadences believers embrace would make Nietzsche blush.
    LOWER TAXES UBER ALLES!!
    THE WAR ON TERROR UBER ALLES!!

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey

    Luther — are taxes collected peacefully?
    Do you really believe that supporting a gov’t created bureaucracy to reduce poverty, or improve schools, or in some other way to help the poor, that raising taxes is the most important political act a Christian should do?
    Even when historical evidence shows that few such gov’t programs are actually successful at helping poor people become independent, moral agents?
    There is an “anti-rich” feeling I hear from many Christians, which I hear from you, that emphasizes taking away money from the rich “for the poor”. Even if it doesn’t help the poor. Even if it hurts more poor people than it helps. The important emotion is to punish the rich.
    I hear a sinful emotion — envy.
    “The American farmer dreams of having a better cow than the prize winning cow of his neighbor.
    The Russian farmer dreams … that his neighbor’s cow dies.”
    What most poor people in America need, and more so in the rest of the world — are jobs. Offers of money for doing work. (There’s plenty of work for volunteers. A job is work that somebody pays you to do.)
    The (sad?) Capitalist reality is this: rich capitalists offer more poor people more peaceful, voluntary jobs than are offered in any other system. High taxes reduce the numbers of jobs offered — high taxes hurt the poor.
    The Dem Party’s program to increase taxes would, if implemented, reduce jobs for poor people.
    On war, sometimes the choice is war or genocide.
    I support war against Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur. Most people in the world, and most leaders, are anti-war — meaning they accept the slo-mo genocide in Darfur. It’s not clear to me that anti-war acceptance of genocide is more Christian than a willingness to use force and violence and killing and war to stop the genocide.
    Enforcing justice requires force. Christians do not have such clear guidelines from the Bible recorded words of Christ as to when to use force, or how much. That’s part of the whole “Just War” theory.
    War against injustice is the fundamental basis of gov’t, as well as civilization. Rule of Law starts with enforcement. “What is enforced” is always the defacto law.
    Farnicle, perhaps you could cite all possible punishments for murder according to the New Testament?

  • smmtheory

    Actually “Luther”, the burden of proof that you can speak for Roman Catholics rests with you. And a foaming-at-the-mouth diatribe does not constitute proof. None (got that? NONE) of my Roman Catholic friends believes as you assert we believe.

  • ucfengr

    And a foaming-at-the-mouth diatribe does not constitute proof.
    But what about catchy slogans. Man, you add a good chorus to “LOWER TAXES UBER ALLES; THE WAR ON TERROR UBER ALLES” and you’ve got the makings of a nice little song. Heck, if you add a little twang and maybe a fiddle solo, the Dixie Chicks might sing it.

  • smmtheory

    That is seriously amusing Ucfengr, you’ve made my day!

  • http://www.christinewicker.com Christine Wicker

    I’m the author of a new book called “The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church.” To give you a partial idea of where I’m coming from, Mother Jones loves the book. Christianity Today panned it.
    I say partial idea because the book contains much more than either of the magazines was able to deal with. I usually call myself a former evangelical (although now that I realize with the help of Christianity Today that an evangelical can believe pretty much anything, I might still be one) and my family has been evangelical for seven generations now. It’s not a way of faith I’m happy to see weakened.
    Almost all my statistics came from churches and evangelical researchers. Your numbers are even better. They are stunning. I’m going to add them to my own blog and talk about them on others.
    To see more numbers that show what’s happening, take a look at christinewicker.com.

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