Evangelicals Criticize Themselves May 3, 2008

Evangelicals Criticize Themselves

They have finally realized what the rest of us have known for many years:

Conservative Christian leaders who believe the word “evangelical” has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.

The statement, called “An Evangelical Manifesto,” condemns Christians on the right and left for using faith to express political views without regard to the truth of the Bible, according to a draft of the document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

“That way faith loses its independence, Christians become ‘useful idiots’ for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology,” according to the draft.

How convincing will it be?

The signers say they will still fight against equal rights for gay people. (But it’s not political.)

They’ll still fight against a woman’s right to choose. (But it’s not political.)

It sounds like they just want to convince themselves they’re not playing in the hands of the Republican Party. Meanwhile, they’ll continue doing everything that makes the rest of us think exactly that…

A couple big-name conservative Christians like James Dobson and Richard Land have not signed the document. It’s not known whether they read it or were even asked to sign it. But without their blessings, the document “will carry no weight.”

Phil Burress, an Ohio activist who networks with national evangelical leaders, said that if high-profile evangelical leaders such as Dobson and Land don’t support the document, “it’s like throwing a pebble in the ocean”…

(via FriendlyChristian)

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  • I agree, Hemant. That all IS political whether they want to admit it or not.

    I disagree with the comment about “throwing a pebble in the ocean.” Dobson gets tons of media attention but he is held in contempt by many, many evangelical churches. He does not have the power that the media thinks he has. He doesn’t have the power that he thinks he has, for that matter.

    As far as Land goes, the Southern Baptists seem to be making themselves more and more irrelevant every year, although Baptists aren’t very influential.

    At least that’s how it was when I was involved. I guess things could have changed.

  • Darryl

    The conglomeration of politics and religion is disastrous for both. Slowly, Christians and politicians are relearning this lesson.

  • Richard Wade

    Big names or not, “blessings” or not, if they aren’t going to actually cease their intrusions into public policy and personal liberties, then it’s all window dressing. I think it might actually be better if this bullshit is disregarded because it’s like a wolf dressing up in lamb’s clothing. “Oh we’ve learned our lesson. We’re gonna concentrate on God and stay away from the seduction of power politics from now on.” Yeah, right. When the Discovery Institute disbands for sentiments like this and they become a bunch of monks praying in the mountains I might begin to believe it.

  • Wow, evangelicals actually thought about something….

    While it’s nice to hear their taking a look at the inner beliefs and we should have happy they’re taking steps at all, it doesn’t seem like they’re making any big changes from the article above.

  • MTran

    Anyone here have a chance to read The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church by Christine Wicker? If so, does it throw any light on what’s going on politically within the Evangelical sects?

    There’s a post by Wicker at ConversationAtTheEdge that brought it to my attention.

  • I think the fundamental (no pun intended) problem with this paper is the premise that Christianity is not an ideology. Any doctrinal religion is by definition ideological. As soon as you attempt to have certain behaviors promoted or prohibited on the basis of your religious beliefs, you make them a political issue.

  • For Phil Burress to be involved in this proves to me immediately that it’s b.s. Any fellow Cincinnatians will know what I mean. He’s known in this area as the go-to guy when you need to push a conservative Christian political agenda.

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