Other voices: Evangelicals outside the right wing

Regent University president, evangelical church leaders denounce Alabama’s immigration law

Regent University President Carlos Campo and several people identifying themselves as national evangelical Christian leaders held a press conference in Kelly Ingram Park today to denounce Alabama’s new immigration law.

“We believe Alabama is a better place if they rescind this law,” said Campo. Regent University, a Christian school in Virginia Beach, Va., was founded by TV Evangelist Pat Robertson. Campo said he’s not aware of Robertson’s stance on the Alabama law, described by many as the harshest state immigration law in the nation. “I have not heard him take a stance on this issue,” Campo said.

Campo, whose father came to the United States from Cuba in 1940 and was welcomed into the country, said evangelical churches have been slow to oppose the law.

“It’s to the shame of many evangelical congregations,” he said.

Dave Gushee: “Christian politics, unholy alliances

Once again, a presidential race is becoming a piety contest.

As an American and also as an evangelical Christian, I can hardly bear to watch this nightmare unfolding all over again. It’s bad for America. It’s bad for Christianity. …

It’s not just the politicians’ fault. If church leaders and rank-and-file Christians were not susceptible to these appeals, they would not work. Head fakes in the direction of Christian symbols still make many Christians swoon. Religious tribalism gets out the votes. It helps that the promise of access to power still intoxicates. When every Republican presidential candidate can be counted on to turn out for the Values Voter Summit, perhaps our current best symbol of everything that’s wrong with evangelical politics, the old formula of support in exchange for access appears alive and well.

Rich Cizik: “The values debate we’re not having

As an evangelical Christian who believes the Republican Party does not have a monopoly on moral values, I believe this discussion is long overdue. The “compassionate conservatism” espoused by President George W. Bush and many prominent evangelical leaders has been supplanted by a Tea Party ideology that bears more resemblance to the anti-Christian philosophy of Ayn Rand than it does to the Gospel.

Whether the Christian duty to love our neighbors is compatible with a political movement that embraces radical individualism and rejects the ethic of collective responsibility is a central question as the GOP attempts to cement the Tea Party and the religious right into a cohesive base. Tea Party activists and Republican leaders have consistently targeted for cutbacks vital government programs that protect the poor, the elderly, children and other vulnerable Americans. Yet calls for shared sacrifice and proposals to modestly raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to fund investments and protections that promote the common good are derided as “class warfare.” This is what passes for family values?

Joni Eareckson Tada: “Elections 2012: Who is Really ‘Pro-Life?’

If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.

In these days of economic turmoil, it’s easy to look at programs for the elderly, disabled and others with special needs as line items in a budget. But the effects of cutting them can be far-reaching and sometimes just shift the expense from one column on a spreadsheet to another.

Virtually every state is cutting services for special-needs families and with regulations currently being written for the new health care law, the federal government is headed in the same direction. The Super Committee Senators and Congressmen also are looking at cutting funds for Medicaid as a way of reducing the federal debt.

Unless society holds accountable those who are defining “waste-reduction measures,” the disabled and elderly will lose services and in-home support that are critical to their basic needs.

Drew Smith: “Self-Appointed God-Protectors Hinder God’s Work

While well-meaning and thoughtful people have zealously protected the traditions, the church and God by continually excluding gays and lesbians from full participation in the church, they have declared them unclean.

In doing so, they look and act very much like the self-appointed God-protectors of Jesus’ day.

I am not God’s protector on this issue, or on any issue, and I cannot and will not hinder what God is doing.

Peter’s evidence for the inclusion of the Gentiles was that he witnessed the spirit of God in them, and thus he could not reject the people he once rejected.

People with sexual orientations other than my own are living out the power of the spirit in their own lives through caring for justice and goodness in the world.

How can I hinder what God is doing by pretending I am a self-appointed God-protector?

 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Once again, a presidential race is becoming a piety contest.

    Know what I just noticed? “Piety contest” sounds a lot like “Pie-eating contest”.  Maybe the GOP could have one of those.

  • P J Evans

     It might be more useful if they did have a pie-eating contest. For charity, maybe.

  • Lori

     Regent University President Carlos Campo and several people identifying themselves as national evangelical Christian leaders held a press conference in Kelly Ingram Park today to denounce Alabama’s new immigration law.  

    Wow. Think about how bad you have to be for the guy who runs Regent University to think you’re over the line. Every single person who voted for the Alabama law should now be officially too embarrassed to ever leave the house again. 

  • Anonymous

    What of this, though?  Unless these evangelical-but-not-Right-Wingers actually start endorsing, supporting, or even voting for actual Left-Wing candidates, the Right is going to have its cake and eat it too.

    Look at John Huntsman, perhaps the only comparatively sane Republican candidate in this primary race.  He’s the best example we have of a not-crazy Republican in this election cycle.  Where is his legion of support from the “Evangelicals outside the Right Wing?”  Why has this cycle’s Republican primary been a fight between Loony and Crazy?

  • Lori

     What of this, though?  Unless these evangelical-but-not-Right-Wingers actually start endorsing, supporting, or even voting for actual Left-Wing candidates, the Right is going to have its cake and eat it too.  

    Actually, I think things can change even if all they do is stop supporting far Right candidates. If even a fraction of the Christian Right stops working for the GOP, especially if they actually just stay home on election day, the party will lose one of the load-bearing poles of its “big tent”. That would be bad news for the GOP and good news for the Dems. 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Speaking of Randian philosophy, 

    Atlas Productions LLC announced today its plan to replace more than 100,000 title sheets appearing on the Atlas Shrugged Part 1 DVD and Blu-ray versions sold through major retail outlets.[snip] On the back of the film’s retail DVD and Blu-ray however, the movie’s synopsis contradictorily states “AYN RAND’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice comes to life…

    The problem being

    Harmon Kaslow, CEO of Atlas Productions and Producer of the film stated “As we all well know, the ideas brought to life in Atlas Shrugged are entirely antithetical to the idea of ‘self-sacrifice’ as a virtue. Atlas is quite literally a story about the dangers of self-sacrifice.

    Though I rather suspect this is a cynical ploy to get people to rush out and buy it who otherwise wouldn’t – recalled mistakes are so collectible! – because seriously, they printed 100,000 copies? Did they even get that many people watching in theatres?

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    Remember, it’s just like books written by wingnuts – conservative think-tanks and magazines will buy them in the tens of thousands in order to drive up the sales numbers (and then send out the copies to their subscribers for the next five years).

  • P J Evans

     It should result in a peak in plastic recycling. And CDs used as coasters.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    Coasters, certainly, but recycling? No, it’s straight to the landfills – arch-conservatives don’t recycle.

  • Anonymous

    I love seeing this kind of comeuppance.

  • Tonio

    I was shocked by the quote from the Regent president. Since that institution’s goal is theocracy, I would have expected it to endorse or at least rationalize the Alabama law. True, Campo came here from Cuba, but as an analogy, Herman Cain is virulently anti-Muslim.

  • Killoren

    You can support religious control over politics without being anti-immigrant. Those two things don’t have to go together.

    it’s only because of a weird quirk of our political system that it’s even reasonable for you and I to associate “religious fundamentalist” with every other plank of the GOP’s political platform. Nowhere in the Bible do you find supply-side economics, opposition to the estate tax, or a coherent argument relating to gun control, privatizing Social Security, or opposition to environmental regulations. Those things, like the immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, etc. are all purely secular policies and there is no reason why so many ministers, churches, etc. feel the need to adopt them as part of Scripture.

    (I’m not saying that religious people shouldn’t have an opinion on secular politics, only that I think it’s wrong for someone to take a solely-secular idea — for example, supply-side economics — and try to make it so that All True Christians have to adopt it as if it was in the Ten Commandments.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Thankyou for sharing the Drew Smith article, Fred. This bit:

    Peter’s evidence for the inclusion of the Gentiles was that he witnessed the spirit of God in them, and thus he could not reject the people he once rejected.

    That’s it. This is exactly it. Thankyou for showing me someone expressing what I believe so well. I’m sharing this.

  • Eric L

    I’ve long thought that it was merely a quirk of politics that religious fundamentalists and supply-siders were aligned, but recently while reading a conservative relative’s facebook feed a different possibility occurred to me.  Forget all the economic theory that your wonkier conservatives swear by; the real message of conservative economics as most of its followers understand it is this: that the world is full of lazy, stupid, whiny, or downright malicious people; that they look at the hard-working few with envy and wish to take from them rather than do the work themselves to provide for themselves.  This is the message for most people, and it is a very appealing one for many people, not just the rich.  It may not be based on anything in the Bible, but…

    I attended a conservative evangelical church long enough to pick up on another message that apparently resonates with lots of people.  It is that Christians in America are victims of persecution as surely as many Biblical characters were persecuted for their religion, that it is difficult to be a Christian in this country, that society tells you this is something you should be ashamed of, and you shouldn’t be.  Implicit in all this is that as firmly as conservative Christians believe that this is a Christian country, they also believe that it mostly isn’t, not really anyway.  Sure people call themselves that and celebrate Christmas, but who is willing to stand up and be one in the face of the oppressive forces of secularism (or something along those lines)?  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake” means you, and it means that if you feel persecuted, it is not in spite of how righteous you are but because of it; that the world wants to tear you down precisely because you are good.  Be in the world but not of it — subtext: the world is a godforsaken place, always has been, and you won’t change that by much, but you can be proud not to be the reason it is so.

    Anyway, it’s not that these messages are logically connected, but they are appealing to many people for precisely the same reasons, so naturally many people are drawn to both.

    You are the few, the proud, the hard-working, the true Christians.

  • S.

    I attended Regent’s school of divinity in the ’90′s. It’s not nearly as staunchly conservative as you would think it would be, though definitely not liberal enough for most readers of this blog. Increasing diversity and minority recruitment became an explicit goal while I was finishing up, and a lot of people were very committed to taking the words and mission of Jesus seriously.

    It always amused me how so many locals thought Pat Robertson listened in on every class to make sure everyone towed the line. Ha ha. And let’s just say, most students’ views of him were less than 100% blind adoration.

    Now, at the time the divinity school shared a building with the law & public policy schools. A lot of those people… yeah, they were pretty theocratic/dominionist. It led to some interesting conversations…. You really can’t get into advanced studies of the Bible and theology and remain a hard-line rightwinger.

    (Sorry for any incoherence or typos… I’m fighing a head cold.)

  • Tonio

    Did I expect Regent U to support draconian measures against illegal immigration because religious fundamentalism is allied with secular conservatism? No. My point was that what we know as the religious right is motivated largely by the desire to preserve white social and cultural hegemony, and that’s the same motive behind the Alabama law. It’s about why fundamentalists seek religious control over politics, and not necessarily the specific items on their agenda.

  • Tonio

    My criticism of Regent itself was aimed at the law and public policy schools. The stated mission is shaping Christian leaders to change the world, which itself sounds almost like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and most of the graduates of those schools do seem to favor theocracy.

  • http://profiles.google.com/peter.svedman Peter Svedman

    This isnt new or even limited to american christians. I grew up pentecostal in Sweden, and we were very convinced that a) We were truly christian, other churches not so much (in undefined terms) and b) We were persecuted by the secular world (communists and other lefties ofc)

  • Tonio

    the real message of conservative economics as most of its followers
    understand it is this: that the world is full of lazy, stupid, whiny, or
    downright malicious people; that they look at the hard-working few with
    envy and wish to take from them rather than do the work themselves to
    provide for themselves.  This is the message for most people, and it is a
    very appealing one for many people, not just the rich.

    You’ve pretty much described everyone one I know personally who self-identifies as conservative. Some of that is ethnicity-based prejudice, but either way it comes down to a self-righteous version of the Just World Fallacy. (Is there any other version?)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    What’s really bothersome is how pernicious the legend of “laziness all around me” is. I recently linked to four pages out of a book that pointed out all the logical flaws in the line of argument that people are lazy and don’t normally want to work and feel entitled to everything without compromise.

    And yet some people don’t try putting their own willingness to work hard into the shoes of someone else and believing that someone else could also work hard too.

  • Tonio

    And yet
    some people don’t try putting their own willingness to work hard into
    the shoes of someone else and believing that someone else could also
    work hard too.

    Very true. The attitude I’m describing sees other people as not just loafs but also fools and idiots.

  • Eric L

    Interesting, what was the book?

    One line of evidence against widespread laziness is supply-and-demand — if hard-working people are hard to find, then the price (wage) of hard workers should be rising.  Given the lack of sectors with rising wages, either hard workers are extremely rare and in fact non-existent across a wide variety of types of work, or willingness to work hard is not, by itself, rare at all. 

    But the thing is it is those in low wage sectors who find this myth the most appealing.  Farmers and many other kinds of laborers work quite hard and don’t get paid much for it.  But for many of them, lousy pay underscores that their hard work really says something about them, that they are willing to work hard in any case, and that must be quite special.  Someone who thinks such hard work ought to be better rewarded is likely someone who just can’t handle the hard work.

    I don’t really hold it against them that they create this narrative for themselves; everyone needs to be able to take pride in what they do in life, especially those who don’t get much besides pride from their work.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino
  • Joshua

    It is that Christians in America are victims of persecution as surely as many Biblical characters were persecuted for their religion

    I grew up with that one too, although not about America obviously. And the fact that it is constant despite different cultures is the telling part: I think this is a defect of the simplistic method that literalists use reading the Bible. The Bible says to its original audience quite accurately “Hey, that persecution sucks yeah?” (I’m paraphrasing) and modern literalists just read that and apply it to themselves, because that’s what Christians do. So, obviously the Bible says they are persecuted, and that’s what they believe, QED. Reality doesn’t enter into it.

    I think the correct application of such verses involves leaving your brain switched on, and considering that the text was written to a particular audience that’s very different to us now, and how and why we are different.


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