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Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:45 PM

Four Changes Evangelicals Must Make

A Baptist calls for evangelicals to recognize the election's wake-up call

By Richard Pierard
December 10, 2012

Just before the presidential election, I was invited to speak in Berlin at the annual meeting of the German Baptists’ theological society. The theme was the “social gospel,” a topic on which I, as a historian, am reasonably well-informed, and the opportunity was a welcome interruption from the incessant bombardment of election propaganda and the absurd claims so-called Christian politicians were then making. Once again, in the U.S. election campaign, our evangelicals—including among them many of “my” Baptists—were promoting a slew of “social issues,” but precious little “gospel.”

Self-proclaimed and media-designated evangelicals had done everything they could to defeat President Obama, and in the process they discredited the evangelical message and reduced it to a mere political gospel. From where I’m sitting, it’s obvious that they need to engage in the kind of soul-searching that results in genuine repentance—but of course that is not likely to happen. But I will go out on a limb and suggest some places where they might begin.

1) The Southern Baptists need to get rid of the discredited Dr. Richard Land immediately, not wait for his announced retirement as President of the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which won’t be effective until October 2013. Dr. Frank Page, the President and CEO of the Executive Committee, needs to act summarily and forcefully. He certainly must understand that Land’s (and by implication the Southern Baptist Convention’s) endorsement of Mitt Romney undermined the Southern Baptist witness. He and his office are an embarrassment to the convention, attract unnecessary criticism, and contribute to the public image problem that hinders the ministry of the SBC.

The convention could channel the money expended on its tarnished reputation to the International Mission Board where it could do some real good in reaching men and women for Christ. Proclaiming a political gospel will never achieve this noble goal. Also, there’s no need to jump aboard the “religious freedom” bandwagon when Southern Baptists could contribute funds to aid in the task of fostering religious freedom around the world through the respected and well-managed Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/6614/four_changes_evangelicals_must_make

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:49 PM

1. Good advice and an excellent article, but I am sorry that he doesn't say more about GLBT

equality issues. He mentions it briefly in relation to B Graham and the NC ballot initiative, but that is it.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:51 PM

2. I'm just glad something is finally penetrating.

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Response to rug (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:59 PM

3. Well, at least for this one guy.

Now, what we need is an activist higher up in the catholic church to do the same thing.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:01 PM

5. Too bad this one retired.

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:03 PM

6. Yep. It seems there is much more freedom to speak out forcefully once retired....

which is, of course, not surprising.

Change will come. It always does, though the pace is often slow.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:01 PM

4. 1) keep their religion to themselves 2) keep their religion to themselves....etc nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:05 PM

7. Do you feel that those without religion are equally obligated to keep that to themselves?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:28 PM

9. Huh?

Are you saying I have to stop my month long atheist celebration every year that culminates in a national atheist holiday where I celebrate the birthday of my?... oh wait I don't have any atheist holidays.

Oh, I know, I have to stop playing all those atheists songs about atheism in the stores in December, no more atheist bunnies that give out atheist eggs, no more atheist presents or atheists trees... oh wait, there aren't any.

I guess I have to stop having politicians swear in on the book of atheism... oh wait, there isn't a book of atheism.

WTF are you talking about? What are atheist NOT keeping to themselves? Can you please tell me what alternate universe you live in where atheist are so dominating that atheists should tone it down? I want to live there.

In my world, called Planet Earth, Atheist are barely allowed to exist.

FYI, atheist already by and large keep it to themselves. Most atheists know that if anyone knew, they would be barred from social circles at least or possibly endanger themselves or their families. People are more afraid of atheists than they are of Muslims and we all know how irrational the fear of Muslims is. I think Atheists already keep it to themselves.

Is it too much to ask that Christians stop forcing their beliefs on everybody else?

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Response to rainin (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:34 PM

10. Not saying any of that. Merely asking whether someone who expects theists to

just keep it to themselves would expect the same thing from non-theists.

There is no question that there is christian domination in this country, but we have freedom of religion and there is no expectation that anyone needs to keep their religion or lack of religion to themselves. Keep it out of the laws, yes. Keep it out of the culture, no.

Barely allowed to exist? A bit of hyperbole, don't you think?

I agree that no one should force their beliefs or lack of beliefs on anyone else. I do not agree that they should keep it to themselves. In particular, I think the growing trend for atheists to be more vocal and visible is a good thing and will advance the cause of greater understanding and acceptance.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:46 PM

12. Hyperbole?

In New York, maybe. In the South not at all. Don't ask don't tell. No kidding. Do NOT tell.

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Response to rainin (Reply #12)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:59 PM

13. I do not question that there is bigotry towards atheists, particularly in the bible belt.

I only question whether it puts your life in danger. I can see that it would put your job, your relationships, your standing in the community, your ability to run for office or hold other leadership positions in danger. But your life?

And I agree that this needs to change, but also see that it is changing.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:14 PM

8. Wow, wouldn't this be nice to see?

"4) Finally, evangelicals have to get off the abortion issue. The electoral defeat of several hard-liners should be a wake-up call that people are getting weary of the increasingly extreme positions that the more vocally Christian politicians are taking on the issue. The attempts to secure the enactment of “personhood” measures, and the rejection of abortion in cases of rape or to save the life of the mother, are examples of the latest moves in this direction. Besides, who takes seriously their stress on the “right to life” while they reject gun control for assault weapons, the very real threat of global climate change, and support the death penalty and ongoing war in Afghanistan?"

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Response to rainin (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:41 PM

11. There is a growing evangelical movement addressing climate change.

They base their activism in scripture. It's a good thing. They should be supported, imo.

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