Why Evangelical Christians Do Not Receive Much Respect

Timothy Stanley, a right wing writer at The Telegraph, argues that America’s evangelical Christians deserve respect despite being wrong about the Rapture. While I would  not form an opinion of all evangelical Christians based solely upon the Apocalyptic views of one Christian cult, I cannot accept Stanley’s argument. He concluded:

Across the United States, atheists are gathering at Rapture parties to celebrate another day of life on this corrupted Earth. Their joy as Camping’s error is plain mean. While they knock back cheap imported beer and make-out in hot-tubs, thousands of evangelicals will be providing care and love to prisoners, homeless people, drug addicts and the poor. It is a noble calling worthy of a little tolerance.

There are evangelicals and non-evangelicals of a wide variety of views who do charitable work. Non-evangelicals actually do more than “knock back cheap imported beer and make-out in hot-tubs.” You cannot judge a religious or philosophical viewpoint by highlighting the charitable work of one segment of the believers in one viewpoint and mischaracterizing the behavior of others. The real way to judge the group is by the beliefs held by the whole group.

It is hardly worthwhile to devote any time to analyzing the validity of fundamentalist Christian belief as most people have already made up their opinions here and it will not be altered by a blog post. I will just make two points here: 1) those who have a low opinion of evangelical Christians do so based upon reasons having nothing to do with their charitable work and 2) my primary objection is not with their beliefs as much as with their actions to impose their beliefs upon others.

Stanley, incidental, is working on a biography of Pat Buchanan. If he misses why people with integrity are opposed to the Anti-Semitism and homophobia of this Nazi-sympathizer, it is not hard to see why he would miss the all the harm caused in the United States by the religious right.

Update: Camping Says End of the World Is Still On For October. Majority of Evangelical Christians believe Rapture will occur by 2050.

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24 Comments

  1. 1
    49107 says:

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  2. 2
    Schuyler Thorpe says:

    The sad thing is that such “evangelical” Christians feel that it is their “divine” duty to convert as many people as they possibly can, by shoving their belief system and code of outdated morality/values onto the country as a whole.

    And if *that* doesn’t work, they feverishly condemn anyone who doesn’t see things their way by calling them–what else…?

    GODLESS LIBERALS. BABY KILLERS. HOMOSEXUALS. ANTI-WHITIES.

    The list goes on.

    So when the rapture happened, I was just laughing my ass off.

    “What a bunch of fuckwits!” :0)

    But hey…! This is a free country. Free to be stupid. Free to be gullible. Free to be a complete and mindless ‘tard following the likes of Newt and Palin and devouring anything and everything that Rush and Faux Newz says.

    And yes: I AM LIBERAL AND PROUD OF IT!

  3. 3
    Schuyler Thorpe says:

    PS: When did the right ever (actually) care about the homeless and the poor anyways?

    PPS: Wish I had some of that “cheap, imported”-beer and making out in expensive hot-tubs.

    (My wife would KILL me if I did that! lol)

    Anyhew…

  4. 4
    John says:

    As an evangelical Christian, I’m at a loss to understand why this crackpot Camping is a reflection on us when the vast majority of us repudiated him.

    Also, I’m amused by the notion that we try to “impose our values” on others. Frankly, we can’t hold a candle to the bullies and bigots of the left who try to shove their cult of political correctness down everyone’s throat. Projection anyone?  

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    John,

    If you actually read the post you might note that it says the opposite of what you claimed, distinguishing between a limited cult which followed Camping and other evangelical Christians. However, a majority of Evangelical Christians do believe the Rapture will occur by 2050, essentially agreeing with Camping while not picking a specific date.

    I wished in responding to Stanley’s post that he had used a clearer term than evangelicals since this does encompass a number of views. This still does generally hold up, in contrast to your rather irrational response.

    “Bullies and bigots of the left” Who are you speaking of. Yes, there is a tiny number on the far left who would fit that description, but they are a tiny number with no influence compared to those on the religious right who are actively using government to impose their views upon the rest of us. I have no use for the bigots of either extreme, but those on the left have the fraction of the impact of those on the right.

    “Their cult of political correctness” This is primarily an invention by the right wing to spread fear in the minds of people such as yourself, and to any degree it doe exist, “political correctness” is generally opposed by people on the left who value freedom of speech.

    Projections? No, but you are dealing with right wing fantasies. In contrast, we have very real problems with the religious right trying to legislate morality, such as interfering with reproductive rights. Nothing any small group on the left is doing compares to the religious right’s attempts to restrict access to contraception and abortion. Nothing by anyone who supports “political correctness” can compare to those on the right who are trying to prevent the teaching of science in the schools, and who promote a revisionist history which denies the actual beliefs of the Founding Fathers. The left has never turned out people to restrict the rights of others in the way that the right wing turned out to vote for amendments restricting same-sex marriage in 2004.

    Such attempts to impose their views upon others by use of government are not being made by all evangelical Christians, but enough are doing so to account for the lack of respect for evangelical Christians among many.

  6. 6
    Vin Smith says:

    The American Left has had its short flings with extremists.  People like Tom Hayden and Ralph Nader come to mind in the world of politics and commentating.  In the world of academe we have had Angela Davis and a slew of far left professors who do not and did not speak for the vast majority of progressives.  The problem with the right is the current state of the Republican Party.  They are controlled by card carrying idiots.  Death panel screamers, birther mental midgets; the Sarah Palin/Michelle Bachmann brand of “Know Nothings.”  If the GOP ever reverted to the intellectual tradition of a previous generation of conservatives (William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater), instead of today’s Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh and Tea Party brain meltdowns, they would stand a chance of helping the country to find some progress on pressing issues.  As long as the GOP courts disaster in the form of “stupid” candidates, they will finally reach the scrap heap of history, so ignominiously occupied by the Whigs.

  7. 7
    Missy says:

    This Camping senile needs to be locked up in a nursing home. In one short period of time he has done extreme damage to Christianity and belief in God by his nutball ramblings. Total screwball! Take some time and read about the “Millerites” back in the mid-1800s. No difference at all! That nut and his band of followers did exactly the same thing with exactly the same results.

  8. 8
    rubart says:

    I think what annoys me most about “people of faith”–aside from their claiming to be the only ones who have “the Truth”–is that the media calls them “people of faith.”  As though they’re the only ones who have faith.  I have full faith in the Creator and in my own life within Creation.  But because my faith doesn’t come within the Christian tent, I’m assumed to have no faith at all.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Vin,

    That certainly is the major difference between left and right: Extremists on the left are generally ignored by liberals while the extremists on the right now dominate the conservative movement and Republican Party.

    Conservatives of ten years ago or more would be liberals today if they didn’t move to the far right. Despite how often they bring him up, a Ronald Reagan would be rejected by the conservative movement today. Barry Goldwater even called himself a liberal in his later years, objecting to the increasing influence of the religious right over the conservative movement.

  10. 10
    Anonymous says:

    well if your not a christian then your faith that you do have is just wasting your time because there is no other besides Jesus

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    The previous comment shows exactly why Evangelical Christians do not receive respect.

  12. 12
    Tom says:

    I think you confuse the terms “Evangelical” and “Fundamentalist.” They overlap, but are not always the same. Tony Campolo, for example is an Evangelical, but not a Fundamentalist. He does not seek to impose his views on anyone. More typically the behavior you speak of is found in Fundamentalist Christians. 

    The comment “no other besides Jesus,” for example, is a classic Fundamentalist statement, but not one all Evangelical Christians would make, or if they did, it would be with careful qualification as to how that might affect other faiths. 

    Go to Sojourners and you will discover a community that embraces the title Evangelical, but not the title Fundamentalist. You may also be surprised at what these Evangelicals are about.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Tom, I already noted that there is a problem in replying to Stanley’s post because of his use of the word Evangelical. I am primarily responding to Stanley’s support of the religious right and his attacks on others.

    I am aware of Sojourners and the comments here do not apply to them.

  14. 14
    M.Franks says:

    It’s intersting that Schuyler Thorpe has condemmed evangelicals calling people names when he himself is calling people names, lol. Hypocritcal much? Also, out of date morality,huh? So not lying, stealing, murdering, adultery are okay now?

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    M. Franks, you have certainly twisted what Schuyler Thorpe wrote. He said nothing to suggest that lying, stealing, murdering, adultery are okay. 

  16. 16
    M.Franks says:

    He said that evangelicals have ”out of date” morality. The ten commandments state that this is wrong. What other morality would he be talking about?

  17. 17
    Mike says:

    Ron, thanks for the post.  I am a devout, Evangelical Christian that was saddened to see all the news and publicity surrounding Harold Camping and his group of followers who have a very extreme, and (proven to be) inaccurate set of beliefs and views based on their misinterpretation of the Bible.

    I value your post, and while I don’t agree entirely, I do think you bring up some good points.  In particular, I agree that there are many practicing Christians (in America especially) that exhibit intolerance and a lack of love towards others.  They show a level of “elitism” with their faith and in turn have little to no respect for others with opposing or different viewpoints.

    That being said, I do raise an objection to your comment, “The real way to judge the group is by the beliefs held by the whole group.”  While in principle this may be true, I think in reality it is almost impossible to find a group that is so heterogenous that they all truly hold the exact same beliefs.  Take any large group of people, whether it be Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Blacks, Whites, Asians, Liberals, Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, or Green, and I think you would be hard pressed to say that there is a single set of beliefs that is held by an entire group.

    I am not denying that there are a lot of Christians in our society that do not shed a good light on Jesus Christ.  And even more so, there are plenty of Christian personalities and figures in the media that seem to be more focused on perpetuating their own notoriety than perpetuating the true beliefs and tenants of Christianity.  But please note that these are the minority.

    The majority of practicing Evangelicals believe that Christianity, as is stated in the bible over and over again, is focused on God’s love and on having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Just as one would have a relationship with a friend or loved one, the practice of this “religion” is between you and Jesus.  There is absolutely no passage in the New Testament bible that commands us to judge anyone, exhibit hatred or intolerance, or impose our viewpoints on others.  In fact, Jesus says just the opposite… He says that His greatest two commandments are (1) to love God, and (2) to love each other.  And that is how we should be treating each other.

    (And for that matter, the entire concept of “loving each other” is good advice not just for Christians but for humanity… but I digress…)

    The main point I am trying to make is that because Christianity is built upon being a personal relationship between a believer and Jesus, it means that by design, someone who is truly practicing Christianity is not going to be making a name for himself or herself in the press trying to state why God hates so-and-so or why a certain group of people are going to burn in hell.  And even though the majority of Christians truly believe in these core principles, it won’t do much to change the popular viewpoint of Evangelical Christianity overall, since by design, the majority is truly a silent majority.

    This is why I am concerned when you say “the real way to judge the group is by the beliefs held by the group.”  Wouldn’t it be just as much of a concern if we apply this to Muslims — would we really want to judge all Muslims by the beliefs held by small but vastly outspoken minority of extremists?  If not, would it be fair to do the same to Christians?

  18. 18
    Carolyn-Kansas City says:

    I don’t want to understate the Evangel Faith and their respect for the human race because I was raised in a Church that emits love.  However as most of the remarks about Evangels and their involvement with the Republican and Tea Parties I must agree.    
     
    The Evangels claim to be so loving and understanding of everyone however how many of them actually get involved?  Abused children are ramped in the Catholic Church and are mostly brushed aside in favor of the Priests.  Innocent animals that are dumped on the side of the road to scrap for food will not be allowed in Heaven according to them.   
     
    I would rather spend my life on earth with all the precious abused children and animals than eternity with Camping or any of his kind in Heaven. 

    For me I find my peace in helping others including animals. I will leave the predictions of the end of the world to someone who really knows, God.

    I have seen the hate directed toward gays until a family member announces the dreaded “L” or “G” word then it becomes tolerable. In other words it is okay for the Christian Family Member to be gay or Lesbian and is even supported but for the non-family members it is still a sin.  There always seems to be exceptions in the great sins of the world when it involves one of their own, i.e. abortion.

  19. 19
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike, you are taking the sentence out of context. The point was that Evangelical Christians should not be judged based upon the predictions held by a minority group such as Camping’s followers but my beliefs more commonly held. Looking at shared beliefs commonly held by members of a group does not mean that all hold the same beliefs. You are extending this statement to mean far more than what was said in response to Stanley’s characterization of Evangelicals versus others. This is also directed at those Christians who wish to impose their views upon others, not at all Christians.

  20. 20
    Ralph says:

    It is disgusting when others want to force their views on others . . . well, except for evolution and atheism. That’s different. Both evolution and atheism are faith based religion. I fail to see the difference.

  21. 21
    Ron Chusid says:

    Evolution is based upon actual evidence and is therefore not faith based. Teaching what has been established by science is not forcing ones views upon others.

    Atheism is based upon saying there is lack of any evidence and a lack of willingness to take something on faith, so again this is not faith based. Atheists are not trying to impose their views on others in the way that religious conservatives are.

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    M. Franks,

    He is probably talking about the same issues I was in the post. The Ten Commandments include some items which are common to moral codes beyond Christianity, such as opposition to lying, stealing, murder, and adultery. Rejecting fundamentalist Christianity does not mean anybody supports these practices. The Ten Commandments also includes Commandments regarding false idols or working on the 7th day which we would not accept. The issues discussed in the post are more consequential problems with those having an “out of date” morality.

  23. 23
    Pat says:

    Interesting and overall civil discussion.  Timothy Stanley though is simply making stuff up.  His comments about Prison Fellowship programs dropping recidivism rates to 8% is based on a study that my 4 year old daughter could debunk and yet that study is trotted out like gospel (pun intended) to anyone who will listen. (in case you are interested, the Penn Study started with 177 inmates that joined the group and another 177 control group.  In the end, the inmates that joined the group had a higher re-arrest rate and higher re-imprisonment than the control group.  Amazingly though, a great PR trick kicked out virtually anyone who got arrested from the group and therefore dropped their rate to %….amazing)
    Also, for all his talk about religion helping prisoners, time after time US Federal prisoner reports say that about .2% of the prison population is atheist while the Christian number is closer to 85%. 

  24. 24
    DocJ says:

    People , people, please………..just convert to atheism and you will notice that sense of calm that comes with not needing to look over your shoulder every time you say a bad word or find yourself thinking how hot your neighbor’s wife is. And you can sit back and watch the fire-and-brimstone crowd get themselves all worked up over nothing………..which is what happened on May 21st.

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