John Blake, CNN’s Belief Blog editor, wrote a piece this weekend on evangelical’s minority status.
Is evangelicalism a minority? Is it being treated intolerantly? Is it being persecuted?
(CNN) – When Peter Sprigg speaks publicly about his opposition to homosexuality, something odd often happens.
During his speeches, people raise their hands to challenge his assertions that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but no Christians speak out to defend him.
“But after it is over, they will come over to talk to me and whisper in my ear, ‘I agree with everything you said,’” says Sprigg, a spokesman for The Family Research Council, a powerful, conservative Christian lobbying group.
We’ve heard of the “down-low” gay person who keeps his or her sexual identity secret for fear of public scorn. But Sprigg and other evangelicals say changing attitudes toward homosexuality have created a new victim: closeted Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality but will not say so publicly for fear of being labeled a hateful bigot.
As proof, Sprigg points to the backlash that ESPN commentator Chris Broussard sparked recently. Broussard was called a bigot and a purveyor of hate speech when he said an NBA player who had come out as gay was living in “open rebellion to God.” Broussard said the player, Jason Collins, was “living in unrepentant sin” because the Bible condemns homosexuality.
“In the current culture, it takes more courage for someone like Chris Broussard to speak out than for someone like Jason Collins to come out,” says Sprigg, a former pastor. “The media will hail someone who comes out of the closet as gay, but someone who simply expresses their personal religious views about homosexual conduct is attacked.”…
Intolerance may be difficult to define, but some evangelicals say they have become victims of intolerance because of their reverence for the Bible.
The conservative media culture is filled with stories about evangelicals being labeled as “extremists” for their belief that homosexuality is a sin.
Their sense of persecution goes beyond their stance on homosexuality. There are stories circulating of evangelical students being suspended for opposing homosexuality, a teacher fired for giving a Bible to a curious student, and the rise of anti-Christian bigotry.A blogger at The American Dream asked in one essay:
“Are evangelical Christians rapidly becoming one of the most hated minorities in America?”
The numbers prove that evangelicalism is, and for most of American history, has been a minority. In a democracy, or a representative democracy, those with the biggest numbers win the power even if it constrained by the rule of law. A few observations:
1. Evangelicalism is experiencing the repercussions of it’s aggressive politicking of the years of the Moral Majority, led by such voices as Jerry Falwell, James Kennedy, James Dobson, and Francis Schaeffer (in lesser ways). The politicization of the evangelical movement has proven to be far more disastrous than beneficial.
2. Evangelicalism is a minority; it cannot expect or demand that its view be assumed or enacted into law. It will have to persuade and it has not persuaded well in the last generation. Very few of its favored issues are convincing the majority, which is how America works (again, within the constraints of law).
3. Evangelicalism needs to get its own house in order to become a more credible witness. Evangelicalism’s commitment to biblical perceptions of sexual ethics doesn’t work if its divorce rates and marriage ethics are barely distinguishable from the rest of culture. When evangelicalism becomes more holy and more loving its voice will be more compelling.
4. Evangelicalism needs to rethink its “politic”: its politic ought to be first the church, where one ought to see justice, wisdom, love, and peace abounding. When its ecclesial politic witnesses to the kingdom of God at work in the here and now it can spill over into society and culture.