On Fair Portrayals of the Evangelical Point of View

By James Fallows

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/on-fair-portrayals-of-the-evangelical-point-of-view/264593/