Albert Mohler on Dangerous Evangelicals
Though the furor has died down in the intervening few months, an October column by R. Albert Mohler, Jr, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, attempted to address the then-prominent controversy over Christians and Christianity in political life. Whether you call it “dominionism” or just “fundamentalism,” Mohler took on the issue of those who are decrying the rise of “Christian nationalism.” He asks:
What is so scary about America’s evangelical Christians?
and notes the chorus of voices warning about the rise of a Christian “theocratic state,” “Christian nationalism,” and a usurpation by conservative Christian 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…
Is it really as dire as all that? Mohler says no:
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…
Mohler reveals that the central issue is much simpler: It is the age old norm of issue-based politics. Members of one group hold some positions in part due to the precepts of their faith (among which might include abortion, marriage, poverty, and the environment). On the opposite side, others hold to the opposite belief based on their own group ideology.
Rather than rebut their ideological opponents on the merits of the political issues, those decrying the “dangerous” rise of Christianity are fighting their opposition on the basis of their underlying faith. To them, if a position is remotely related to a person’s religious faith, it is invalid as a political argument.
This has come to the forefront in recent years because Christians have more faithfully integrated their faith and their daily lives. The “danger” exists only to those who feel their ideological position is worthy of no political opposition, even in a democratic society. Mohler concludes:
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 outcry from Michael Weinstein, Chris Rodda, and Rick Baker over Christians in the US military little different, except Weinstein’s group gets to connect Christianity to guns and nuclear weapons for dramatic effect. Unable to form a cogent argument against those who support religious freedom and living the Christian faith within the military, the trio instead oppose Christians in the military based on their faith, with Weinstein’s group claiming only the ‘right kind’ of Christian should be able to serve or speak publicly in the US military. If they’re not an MRFF-approved Christian, they’re described with such dire words as ‘national security threat,’ with Weinstein personally claiming knowledge of a plan to institute a second holocaust in the United States.
In fact, Christians in the military aren’t any more “dangerous” than those in the political sphere. Groups like Weinstein’s, however, that actively seek restrictions on the religious liberties of groups whose theologies they oppose, could be dangerous — if Weinstein and his crew weren’t recognized for the fringe conspiracy group they are.
Read Mohler’s full commentary here.