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Monday, November 13, 2006

Oh, there's good Christians, too?

I almost forgot until I saw an editorial in the New London Day, of all places, called "It's A Distortion To Stereotype Evangelicals." Here's a piece:


It was in 1976 — the “year of the evangelical,” according to Newsweek — that conservative Christians burst upon the political landscape. Critics have been warning about the theocratic takeover of America ever since. Thus the plaintive cry of a Cabinet member in the Carter administration: “I am beginning to fear that we could have an Ayatollah Khomeini in this country, but that he will not have a beard ... he will have a television program.”

This election season produced similar lamentations — Howard Dean's warning about Christian “extremism,” Kevin Phillips' catalog of fears in “American Theocracy” and brooding documentaries such as “Jesus Camp,” to name a few. This theme is a gross caricature of the 100 million or more people who could be called evangelicals. But the real problem is that it denies the profoundly democratic ideals of Protestant Christianity, while ignoring evangelicalism's deepening social conscience.

Evangelicals led the grass-roots campaigns for passage of the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. Even the Moral Majority in its most belligerent form amounted to nothing more terrifying than churchgoers flocking peacefully to the polls on Election Day. The only people who want a biblical theocracy in America are completely outside the evangelical mainstream, their influence negligible.

So as Jerry Falwell and other ministers were jumping into politics, leaders such as Charles Colson — former Nixon aide turned born-again Christian — were charting another path. In 1976 Colson launched Prison Fellowship, a ministry to inmates, to address the soaring crime problem. Today it ranks as the largest prison ministry in the world, active in most U.S. prisons and in 112 countries. “Crime and violence frustrate every political answer,” he has said, “because there can be no solution apart from character and creed.” No organization has done more to bring redemption and hope to inmates and their families.

Well, thanks, although I think the phrase "deepening social conscience" is code language for "Evangelicals do some stuff that I like, too, not just crazy right-wing stuff like trying to block partial-birth abortions." If Charles Colson launched Prison Fellowship in 1976, is it really "deepening?" However, it's worth reading the whole thing if only to gaze in wonderment at a Connecticut newspaper allowing an editorial to tell people to chill out about those crazy Christians.

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2 comments:

The Teacher said...

Please learn the plural forms of the verb 'to be'. Your heading should read 'Oh, THERE ARE good Christians too?'

The teacher

Nick said...

Hi Teach,

Thank-you for stopping by and commenting. I meant no harm; I was using a colloquialism in order to create a snappier headline.

Sincerely,
The Lawyer

PS: You should have used standard double quotation marks in your comment, not single quotation marks. I also noticed that your ending quotation mark enclosing the words "to be" fell inside rather than outside the period (full stop). But I'll "cut you some slack," as they say, since it's early in the morning. :)