A challenge to Evangelicals

"By their fruits ye shall know them"

(written in the  aftermath of Bush's presidential win/resultant right wing glee and read as commentary on the local public radio station)

I'd also suggest you read some other writer's thoughts  and here and here

Since Bush won in large part from a strong religious right turnout, the press has been 'trying to get a handle on' the apparent rising tide of moral values, and there have been numerous interviews with evangelicals, all of whom are rightfully jubilant and many of whom are smugly self-righteous.

Now normally, I make no comment about people's faiths: I see us all as God's children, who worship (or not) each in our own fashion. But the evangelicals have politicized their faith; they will forthrightly tell you that they are looking to preside over the triumph and enforcement of their faith, and they have politically organized and acted to make it happen. One of their own is the Attorney General of the United States; he is self-righteously smiting the sinners based on his religious vision...and giving his co-religionists a free pass on their transgressions.

So evangelists are fair game for comment on the honesty and integrity of their 'moral values'.

To us in the North and elsewhere, the evangelical movement is new and exotic, and, to some, compelling. In the South, it's everywhere, it's been around a long time, and, too often, it's a lot of talk and not much walk.

As someone who grew up in the South, in the town where The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is located, I have a longstanding challenge to evangelicals:

Show me the goodness and worth of the evangelical faith as revealed in the last century of the life, culture and society of the South, where evangelical Christianity has been dominant for a century or more.

Apply Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount, 'by their fruits ye shall know them' to the South's history and show me how the South surpasses the other less godly parts of our country in brotherly love, in racial harmony, in peaceable conduct, in respect and cherishing love of women and children, show me how better the poor are fed and the sick healed in the South. Show me this Eden of Christian works and deeds that should put the rest of the country to shame.

I've never had an evangelical show me, and I've had few that can honestly admit to its failures and face that shame. They'll argue that faith is the essence, that all men are sinners, so...uh...well...the committent to Christ is what's important, not the sins. Sorry, but the fruit of the tree makes it a lie. Oh, I've met many true humble, practicing Christians whose faith and works and decency is a shining witness; I bow to them. I've also met far too many evangelicals that loudly proclaim their righteousness: most of the time, the louder they profess, the nastier they are to their fellow man...and the more snakes are in the closet.

Evangelistic moral values: oh yes, if you're from the South, you know all about the God shouter and the Bible thumper and just how really Christian their moral values are.

Like Bush, the evangelicals profess morality, humility, Christian faith and family values but too often walk a walk far from the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount, a walk of intolerant small-minded self-righteousness. The fruits of the tree elsewhere in the nation, where governments of law and justice, of pluralistic religions and ethics hold sway, quietly puts the South of the evangelicals to shame. And it was that same law and justice, not 'moral values', that finally brought the blacks their civil rights, equal education and opportunity.

God is not an evangelical, he's not a Republican, he's not Democratic...and people who presume to speak for him are presumptuous beyond all measure.