The liberal press doesn’t know what to do with Christians.
In their perennial panic to appear nonpartisan, they always distance themselves from us by their obvious attitudes and, more subtly, by their slanted terminology.
For instance, you know that Leno and Letterman are talk-show hosts. So are King and Cavuto and a hundred others. But if someone has the misfortune to be a strong Christian and display the poor taste of discussing Christians topics out loud in public, whammo! They are stuffed into a box labeled “televangelist.”
Rarely do I see Christian TV hosts evangelize (preach the Gospel). But the pressies simply don’t want to grant Christians the legitimacy of being in the same league with “real” talk hosts. So into that semantic box we go, forever segregated.
For another instance, do you remember the miseries of 1979, when the shah was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini? Sure you do. And do you remember what the media oligarchy always called him? A “fundamentalist Islamic leader.”
If Khomeini was a fundamentalist Muslim, I’m a ’56 Chevy. By most standards of classical Islam, Khomeini was a wildly militant radical . He stated clearly in 1989 that the priorities of the revolution took precedence over Islamic sharia law. (Picture Jerry Falwell proclaiming the precedence of the U.S. Constitution over the Bible.)
But the pressvolk eagerly pounced on the chance to stuff old-fashioned, Bible-believing Christians into the same box as Khomeini. This was imbecilic, but they pulled it off. In fact, by the mid-’90s their anti-fundamentalist rhetoric had reached such an hysterical peak that a Gallup poll found 30 percent of Americans saying they would not like to live next door to a fundamentalist. Oi vey. Armbands, anyone?
To this day, to call someone a fundamentalist in print is to cast a pall of suspicion. In the wonderland of libthink, where words rule over reason, “fundamentalist kook” is almost a redundancy.
Well, let me set the record straight. Christian fundamentalists are today a subset of evangelicals. They are noted for their devotion to the Bible and the old-fashioned virtues. Fundamentalism sprang up in reaction to the “higher criticism” of the Bible hatched in Germany in the late 19th century. Though their U.S. numbers remain in the tens of millions, fundamentalists’ influence waned sharply after the 1925 Scopes trial. Yet they’ve evolved, expanding greatly into the larger movement of evangelicalism, which has made massive and fairly successful efforts to regain Christians’ former influence, especially in scholarship.
The heirs of the Reformation (Luther-Calvin-Knox) and the Great Awakening (Wesley-Whitefield-Edwards) and fundamentalism are today known broadly as evangelicals – with a small e. Our basic beliefs are identical to those giants of the faith. And that includes a belief in the full inspiration of Scripture (which is usually stiff-armed in the press as a “literal” belief in the Bible). Our secondary beliefs include a whole constellation of hot-button issues, such as our opposition to homosexuality, abortion, macroevolution, drugs, various political correctness problems, and the erosion of civic freedom.
One perpetually annoying problem of terminology: “evangelicals” includes Evangelicals, charismatics, and Pentecostals. Capital-E Evangelicals aren’t charismatic or pentecostal.
The great majority of evangelical Protestants are conservative theologically and politically. A minority do manage to mix conservative theology with centrist or liberal politics (notably some black denominations and some Southern Baptists).
Why have I downloaded this tedious four-part series on you? Because the Great War between good and evil is accelerating, and many outposts of righteousness are being attacked and whipped very unjustly, while the masses nod in approving ignorance. The latest example (see World magazine Sept. 3, 2005) is the year-long TV campaign by the Russian Orthodox Church to exterminate Protestantism. Ordinary Baptists, Pentecostals, and house-church members are condemned as “demented cult members convulsing on the floor and frothing at the mouth.” The perfectly innocent Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Krasnodar is depicted as printing Satanic Bibles, using human blood as ink, and conducting human sacrifices.
Just ignorant foreigners, right?
No. We’re also subject to semantic manipulation. Remember: American politics was pushed sharply left for three decades by images of hydrogen bombs on anti-Goldwater TV spots. And, alas, this is the country where the most distinguished legal mind of our time was Borked out of a Supreme Court appointment by the Hero of Chappaquiddick and a cadre of feminists waving coat hangers.
Our political war has spiritual roots. And as in any war, the first thing is to learn to tell your friends from the guys who are shooting at you.