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And You Wonder Why I Criticize Evangelicals So Often…

December 4, 2008

During the election season, I made frequent references to the kinds of evangelical leaders who publicly supported McCain, people like Hagee and Parsely who believe that the US is the instrument of God against evil in the world, actively condoning bloody war. Rick Warren is supposed to be a moderate. And yet when Sean Hannity called for the US to “take out” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Warren had this to say in response:

“Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped…. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.”

God help us.

P.S. I had the misfortune of watching Bill O’Reilly while I was at the gym last night. I was a captive audience! Anyway, he was mouthing off about how waterboarding and other torture techniques had kept everybody safe and that only the “loony left” opposed it. Isn’t O’Reilly supposed to be Catholic? Is he aware of Church teaching on torture? Does he know anything about consequentialism? Does he care? Does he realize that this kind of manifest support for a gravely evil act in the public domain could well prohibit him from the Eucharist? Where are the communion warriors when you need them?

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25 Comments
  1. Policraticus permalink*
    December 4, 2008 4:56 pm

    The Church says that the embrace of its social teaching necessitates a “second conversion” for Catholics, moving from orthodoxy to orthopraxis. The first conversion to orthodox believe has a clear priority, and many remain at this level. The second conversion is to not only to see the truth of Christ, but to see the world through the eyes of Christ. That is the greatest challenge, I think, to one’s “old self.” It is fairly easy to be an American Catholic yet maintain one’s former view of the world in terms of politics, society, and law. It is quite difficult to be an American Catholic and view the world with the eyes of Christ, for then everything changes. I’m still not there.

  2. December 4, 2008 5:03 pm

    It is fairly easy to be an American Catholic yet maintain one’s former view of the world in terms of politics, society, and law. It is quite difficult to be an American Catholic and view the world with the eyes of Christ, for then everything changes.

    Yes.

    I’m still not there.

    I imagine we all must continually engage in a sort of decolonization, that’s for sure.

  3. Brett permalink
    December 4, 2008 5:54 pm

    Not all evangelicals are like this. See Glen Stassen.

    I recommend a book to this entire blog. It is called _Where God Happens_ by Rowan Williams. The reading and conversion to the forms of community life in that book would do us–especially me–some good. It would serve as a remedy for the constant and often shallow forms of criticism that appear here too often, like the broad and unhelpful critique of “evangelicals” in recent posts. I know more evangelicals who are closer to the heart of Catholic life and thought than I do Catholics. That may, however, be my peculiar situation in life.

  4. Todd permalink
    December 4, 2008 6:12 pm

    Where are the communion warriors when you need them?

    Glued to the tube watching those paragons of Catholicism, Bill Torture O’Reilly and Sean Birthcontrol Hannity.

  5. December 4, 2008 6:54 pm

    Brett, yes, you have a point– I like Glen Stassen and Jim Wallis. And Rowan Williams too for that matter.

  6. December 4, 2008 6:56 pm

    “Communion warriors” only descend on Democrats. War isn’t intrinsically evil and so forth…and Bush is “pro-life”. Heh!

    True-blue (or, as it were, true-red) Evangelicals tend to be terribly annoying, their policies insipid. Their children are more liberal though. Anybody in bed with James Dobson is a creep. This kind of ‘culture war religiosity’, which is mainly directed against things, is what ruined the Republican Party, as far as polite company is concerned. McCain in 2000 would have been another story. Thanks to the ruthless Bush campaign, that didn’t happen.

    This is the only country in the West where people seriously believe in creationism, are aghast at the concept of sex ed and so forth. A propensity to support wars is always quite widespread among the ‘saved’ crowd.. I couldn’t even tell you what the whole thing has to do with Christianity. Well, aside from “Are you saved ?”, “Have you accepted Jesus as your savior ?”, with the lovely opinion that they’re good to go. Here’s your sign.

    You (Minion) have always accurately described the influence of Evangelicals on American (conservative) Catholics. Heck, down to the music. The “Christian Contemporary” atrocities were frequently heard in Catholic churches.

    At least, the “Christian Coalition” and “Moral Majority” (neither moral nor a majority) are pretty much gone. Pat flippin’ Robertson. Not to mention the hyper-emotional “Evangelists” like Benny Hinn or the nuts from the 80s with wives featuring inch-thick-makeup.

    While I certainly disagree with a lot of Catholic social policies (the faith aspects don’t really concern me), at least it’s on an educated level.

    Minion, I think you should move to Colorado Springs, the Mecca of Evangelicals. For mortification purposes :D The holy rollers make a hairshirt seem fluffy.

  7. S.B. permalink
    December 4, 2008 7:47 pm

    Brett, yes, you have a point– I like Glen Stassen and Jim Wallis.

    People who put out sloppy and distorted analysis of abortion statistics flock together, I guess.

  8. December 4, 2008 8:19 pm

    Mr. Naus, I’ll repeat the question I put to you on November 24, 2008, in the comment thread of the post “the house that Neuhaus built.”

    On that post, you seemed to be scoffing at the mental gravitas of the working poor … here do you mean to say that Evangelicals are stupid? The phrase you use, “while I certainly disagree [...] at least its on an educated level,” suggests to me that you mean to say this very thing.

    Is this the basic framework you work off of? Whoever disagrees with you must be stupid?

  9. December 4, 2008 10:09 pm

    “Where are the communion warriors when you need them?”
    I’m right here! Just need a bigger soapbox… maybe a clerical collar…

    And Gerald, I think it is absolutely ridiculous to use “worship music” as evidence that conservative Catholics are in cahoots with Evangelicals. I realize you aren’t too picky about the brushes you use to tar “conservative Catholics,” but really this one is just nuts. Every “conservative Catholic” I know is utterly aghast at Protestant-style worship music in church. Many of them aren’t happy with anything but the Extraordinary Form!

  10. December 4, 2008 10:28 pm

    “Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped…. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.”

    So the Bible doesn’t say we can’t negotiate with evil? I seem to specifically recall Christ three times NOT negotiating with the Devil when He was on the mountain. And what is the legitimate role of government if it’s not to protect its citizens, which sometimes involves punishing those who break the law or threaten its people? In fact, for many that is among the very few legitimate roles of government.

    You may find Evangelicals distasteful, but as vulgar as they may seem, they are very often also right.

  11. December 4, 2008 10:37 pm

    Interesting, Victor, that you would side with the way certain American evangelicals approach war rather than the just war principles of Catholic social teaching. What are those popes thinking after all, since the bible clearly tells them to take out the evildoers, does it not?

    No, yours is the arrogance of private interpretation.

  12. December 4, 2008 10:55 pm

    I didn’t say anything about war. I was saying, in general, governments have a duty to protect the weak from the strong and that as Christians was can never negotiate with evil. That’s pretty consistent with Catholic social teaching, eh?

  13. Todd permalink
    December 4, 2008 11:09 pm

    It seems like so many of the EWTN luminaries tend to be converts of all stripes especially baptist-evangical. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how much Catholicism they absorbed vs how much evangelical protestantism they imported into the church. To someone with my yankee roots it seems strange watching a tridentine mass followed by some guy thumping a bible like he just stepped out of a rivival tent. It’s enough to give you whiplash.

  14. December 4, 2008 11:26 pm

    …as Christians was can never negotiate with evil. That’s pretty consistent with Catholic social teaching, eh?

    Not quite buddy, Unless you mean that we cannot negotiate with evil since evil is abstract. As Christians we cannot simply equate a human being with “evil,” which is what Rick Warren (and you apparently) are doing.

  15. Policraticus permalink*
    December 4, 2008 11:32 pm

    See this whole time I was thinking that evil was a privation of the good and therefore has no real existence. To think that evil can or cannot be negotiated with seems a bit silly to me.

  16. radicalcatholicmom permalink
    December 5, 2008 12:20 am

    “It seems like so many of the EWTN luminaries tend to be converts of all stripes especially baptist-evangical. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how much Catholicism they absorbed vs how much evangelical protestantism they imported into the church.”

    SO true. As a convert, I realize now how much I am having to undo. Even after we converted we were still very Protestant in how we thought about the world and we interpreted it. I think that is to be expected for converts because it is like having to relearn how think and experience and interpret. What is frightening, is that so many Catholic speakers and people in positions of power to sway the Catholic public via books and tv and radio are these converts who are not completely in line with the Church’s thought.

  17. Todd permalink
    December 5, 2008 2:43 am

    What is frightening, is that so many Catholic speakers and people in positions of power to sway the Catholic public via books and tv and radio are these converts who are not completely in line with the Church’s thought.

    Agreed, and yet they are held up as shining examples of Catholicism at its very best. Some of them seem to specialize in dispensing personal opinion more than anything else. It’s all very strange coming from my background which I admit was rather prejudiced against protestantism having had the faith drilled into me by strict old fashioned nuns back in the pre Vatican II 60’s. They would be rolling in their graves at what goes on today. In the pre-Roe church abortion was never spoken of. Never heard the word. Now it’s all anyone talks about, splitting the laity along political lines, bishop against bishop, people shopping around for new parishes because their pastor doesn’t obsess on Abortion enough to suit them. Those old nuns would have fainted if they even heard that word mentioned out loud. And they had a deep disdain for protestantism. Martin Luther was like the devil incarnate and they always said we could only read a Douay Rheims bible and never King James because that was (horrors) Protestant! I was over at my friend’s one day and he showed me a new bible he got at Sunday School, the cover said “KING JAMES BIBLE”. It was like flashing neon letters at me and I dropped it down on the table like it was poison. It’s funny now but that’s what we learned 40 years ago. Nowdays the pendulum seems to have swung completely in the opposite direction. Very strange times indeed.

  18. December 5, 2008 2:57 am

    Yes the bashing of Evangelcials gets old. THe Parody I often see is not like what I see in real life everyday. It is certaintly not in line with the Church or the leadership of John Paul the II and now Benedict.

    I just listened to Anne Rice talk about her books on James Dobson. Now no doubt they disagree with each other on numerous things. But it struck me that if Anne Rice that has a gay son can get on the Dobson show and Dobson thought her story thought they disagree was important and could lead other to Christ then that is a wonderful example of what we all should be doing. No doubt both took some heat for being in each other presence and enjoying each other.

    I notice the comment section has gone into another theme about converts and all.

    I converted some years ago of course. AmyWellborn is in ROme right now and had a great post on her blog the other day that there is not cookie cutter Catholic and I think maybe that is something we should all remember.It challenges me at time to recall that

    It was called “The right kind of Catholic”

    http://amywelborn.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/the-right-kind-of-catholic/

    After reflecting on what Pope Benedict said on the subject and before saying how in Rome you really confront this

    “That is not a call to paper over differences, to pretend that is all is well as we join hands around the campfire. It is not a call to abandon mutual fraternal correction. It is simply, as a first step, to look to Christ and open ourselves to him, together. And to go from there, dependent on the Spirit to bind us together, to reveal the truth to us, and to empower us to bring the Gospel to a world that thirsts and hungers.

    What is true is that this unity is indeed not uniformity, as St. Paul notes and as only one who is blind to history can deny. The diversity within the Body of Christ runs deep, and is complex – as complex as life itself.

    One sometimes reads, not only in Catholic sources, but non-Catholic sources as well, as sort of wistfulness for the right sort of Catholic. “If only all Catholics were like….I might be more open to it. Too bad the other ones have to be around to ruin it.” Fill in the blank: Mother Angelica. Thomas Merton. King Louis IX. Dorothy Day. Take your pick.

    It’s too bad, the implication lurks, that there are those other sort of Catholics who mess up the pretty picture, the perfect embodiment of the Gospel.”

    I think this is very true and something for all of us to recall before we all start down the path of who is not an authentic Catholic or who has baggage or not.

  19. Joseph permalink
    December 5, 2008 11:30 am

    MM,

    You criticize evangelicals for the same reasons you spit your vitriol all over those who leave comments on this blog, you hate anyone who disagrees with you. Though I agree that evangelicalism is a stain and an aggressive cancer spreading heresy wherever it goes, Evangelicals themselves do not bother me.

  20. c matt permalink
    December 5, 2008 12:27 pm

    I had the misfortune of watching Bill O’Reilly while I was at the gym last night. I was a captive audience!

    My friend, that is why God allowed Steve Jobs to invent iPods.

  21. December 5, 2008 12:30 pm

    C matt makes a good point. It is providential that the arrival of IPods coincided so closely with the rise of cable news commentary.

  22. December 5, 2008 1:49 pm

    That’s it…let’s run all of the evangelical “converts” (how can they be converts when they were already Christians, BTW?) out of the Church because we don’t like their politics! Perfect! The Church isn’t already hurting enough.

    JH put it perfectly above:

    “It’s too bad, the implication lurks, that there are those other sort of Catholics who mess up the pretty picture, the perfect embodiment of the Gospel.

    “I think this is very true and something for all of us to recall before we all start down the path of who is not an authentic Catholic or who has baggage or not.”

  23. December 5, 2008 2:00 pm

    Oh, I had the ipod, But there was a big close-captioned TV with O’Reilly’s big head. What was I to do? :)

  24. c matt permalink
    December 8, 2008 11:05 am

    That is a predicament!

    On Rick Warren’s comments, I would wonder what the context was. Government’s legitimate role is to protect against the bad guys. How well they carry out that role in a particular instance is a whole other issue. Was Warren simply referring to this general role, or was he stating that the US’s actions vis-a-vis Iraq was a proper implementation of the role?

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