On Fair Portrayals of the Evangelical Point of View

Some of the palaver in the run-up to today's one-day-only, nearing-its-end Festival of Election Eve Dispatches™ concerned the hiving-off of America into separate information and fact spheres. Some readers argued that the increasing role of evangelical Christians in the Republican party was an important part of the closing-off to argument and contrary evidence on the right.

A reader who identifies herself as an evangelical Christian writes to object:

I just read [this post] and had to comment on the reader with the Facebook "friend" that is an evangelical Christian.

I'm not sure why the columnists and reporters always have to quote an evangelical that is so... dare I say wrong or perhaps even ignorant of what the Bible actually teaches? I have some similarities with the "friend." I am also an evangelical Christian. I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. I believe in Creation. But I think we evangelicals are getting a bad rap during this election--from people just like the well meaning Facebook "friend."

I would suggest that your reader's Facebook "friend" go back and read the Bible rather than extremist websites. Obviously she is not familiar with what the Bible actually teaches. As far as the end times, Jesus very specifically states in Matthew 24:36 "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." So all the alarm about the signs of the end times is patently false. And is actually counterintuitive to Biblical teachings.

As far as following God's law the Bible also says in Romans 13:1 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Which means that God specifically selected Obama to be our President for the last (almost) four years. Hopefully the Facebook "friend" will acknowledge and be in prayer for President Obama and whomever wins the election next week.

I don't pretend to know who will win this election, but whoever does will certainly have my prayers.

But it disturbs me that most evangelicals are portrayed as unthinking, uneducated simpletons. Of course there are extremists, but then there are extremists in every party and group -- both liberal and conservative. Chris Matthews and Rush Limbaugh come to mind. A large number of evangelicals are educated and articulate. Unfortunately only the mindless seem to be quoted in the media.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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