As spirituality and politics have become so intertwined in recent years, Christian andEvangelical are such familiar words in America today but I am certain their significance has been lost. We are familiar with the names given them -The Christian Right”, “Bible thumpers,” “extremists”- finding easy entertainment in the front men such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Unfortunately, These “TBN” types, with their plastic faces, bad hair and money hungry mouths, seem to be the face of American/world evangelicalism today but I would propose that this assumption has become an easy means to write off all conservative Christian groups.
For Robertson and his followers, salvation is found through Bush and the Republican Party. Their faith is all part of a larger cause, not a belief substantially grounded and it is much too simple to “put on” the spiritual front that defines them. Robertson is touted as a prophet, spouting foolish and unfounded assumptions but inevitably, like Jimmy Swaggart, Jimmy Baker and others, Suspicion follows him since he has been involved in questionable financial practices as he builds his ever-expanding empire.
Obviously, it is easy to criticize if he is in the spotlight but, as evangelicals make up the largest and most active group of Christians, rapidly growing in number worldwide, I think it is time the rest of the group were more accurately defined.
First of all, for evangelicals who believe their faith is not only a matter of the heart but also of the mind, scientific breakthroughs are exciting and beneficial as they can be proven and understood both biblically and intellectually. It is interesting than that while creationists can not often even question evolution but live with the fact that it is considered the theory of truth in the public sphere, evolutionists, who would doubtless claim to be open minded, can not stand creationism. On the contrary, they are so infuriated about intelligent design that they will not even give it consideration much less equal footing with their coveted theory.
Though many evangelicals prefer Bush above a left wing candidate, the wise ones know not to put ultimate assurance and confidence in government. Bush may offer some similar values, but he is only a man, with many more of his policies airing on the moderate side. He is by no means the savior of Christians. In a country where we are allowed the freedom to vote freely, the right preferred Bush just as the left preferred Clinton before.
In a pluralistic society, evangelical beliefs such as the exclusivity of biblical truth and anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research and anti-evolution are shunned and made much of. I look at pluralism then and ask if we are all allowed to believe what we want to believe in this free country of ours, then that rule should hold true for the evangelical community as well. Yes, we may feel deeply convicted that there is ultimate truth found in the bible but at the end of the day, individuals will decide for themselves where their beliefs lie. If absolute conviction makes the world uncomfortable, it is not the fault of those who carry it.
As we look at America today and see the problems, I think it is important to question the “Christians” such as Robertson as well as current events but not in order to curtail the whole evangelical community. It is he that is the fraud, not us.