Conservative Christians share striking similarities with Taliban terrorists. Or at least, that’s the argument laid out by Kimberly Blaker in her 2003 book, The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America. Conflating leaders like James Dobson of Focus on the Family with Islamic fundamentalists, Blaker argued that America’s traditionalist Christians also seek to indoctrinate youth with oppressive views of women, minorities, and LGBT persons through mind-control tactics and intimidation.
When Blaker’s book was released, America had an outspoken conservative Christian president with an approval rating of more than 60 percent, the post-9/11 church attendance spike had not yet receded, and religious-right leaders still seemed to hold sway in American public square. It was easy to dismiss her argument as outside the mainstream debate.
But 13 years later, according to a new study by Barna Research, Americans believe that many Christians’ beliefs and practices are so far outside of the norm that they deserve one of modern society’s ugliest epithets: “extremist.”
The study’s findings are detailed in a new book, Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Think You’re Irrelevant and Extreme, by Barna’s president David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. While Kinnaman and Lyons purport to speak about “Christians,” the behaviors and beliefs they probe make clear they are mostly talking about a particular kind of Christian—the conservative kind.