Charles Marsh, a professor of religion at the University of Virginia, has written a great essay published by the Boston Globe. You can find it here.
He notes the near-universal support for Bush’s invasion of Iraq by white American “evangelicals,” and the near-universal condemnation of it by all other Christians around the world (including the Episcopal Church):
Why did American evangelicals not pause for a moment in the rush to war to consider the near-unanimous disapproval of the global Christian community? The worldwide Christian opposition seems to me the most neglected story related to the religious debate about Iraq: Despite approval for the president’s decision to go to war by 87 percent of white evangelicals in April 2003, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts poll, almost every Christian leader in the world (and almost every nonevangelical leader in the United States) voiced opposition to the war.
He quotes Christian Bonhoeffer, the German Christian executed by the Nazis, who foresaw the complete irrelevance of “evangelical” Christianity:
“The time of words is over,” he wrote. “Our being a Christian today will be limited to two things: prayer and righteous action.”
Professor Marsh might have done just as well to quote LGBT people today—because we have told the world for decades that what the religious right does is to baptize prejudice.
But no, Dr. Marsh can’t get his mind around that, or maybe he’s smart enough to know that he can’t quote Gay people to “evangelicals” and hope to get a hearing.
Yet what is that, but baptized prejudice?
I’m glad he’s finally decided that maybe progressive Christians in the USA have something to say, something worth listening to, about the Gospel and state-sponsored terrorism. Bush’s War has hurt the United States as much as it’s destroyed Iraq. Americans will spend decades cleaning up after this Worst President in History. And who gave us George W. Bush? The self-proclaimed “evangelicals.”
Their movement is dead. Americans don’t believe a single thing TV preachers say anymore.
What made these empire-builders think they could get into bed with the Republican Party and not get screwed? Governments have always loved religion when they can use it for their own purposes. That’s been true for millennia! What made “evangelicals” think they’d be any different?
“Evangelical” Christianity is run by hucksters who get rich off baptizing and exploiting popular prejudice. From Ted Haggard to Richard Roberts to Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, the landscape is littered with lying crooks. How many times do we have to tell you?
To hear the actual voice of prophecy, you have to go to a nation’s most despised minorities. They’re the only ones who can tell you the truth about your country.
Marsh drags out Martin Luther King Jr. again; Marsh is one more White Southerner saying (40 years late), “Oh, I found out we were wrong. How disconcerting.” Why don’t you quote someone alive today, Dr. Marsh?
I can take you to Gary, Indiana; you can talk to all the Black folk you want. They’ll tell you exactly what’s happening, right here and now. All you have to do is show up and ask, on any streetcorner in town.
Or I can take you to the Castro (before the Straight people completely take it over) and let you talk to some Gay folk; come on, it might be fun. You’re a former “canon theologian” at an Episcopal cathedral; don’t be scared.
A hundred years after we’re all dead, your Southern Baptist Convention may get around to apologizing for its constant support of war and Gay-hating bigotry; or maybe not. How many Southern Baptists voted for George W. Bush? Did you, Dr. Marsh?
The “evangelical” movement is finally starting to go green—in part because they need a socially-aware issue to distract from their homophobia and war-mongering. A new generation of “evangelical” leaders is starting to replace the old, tired dogs of the past. But why didn’t they listen when Episcopalians talked about stewardship over creation 40 years ago?
Now mind you, Dr. Marsh is not the problem; he’s written an important essay. I think he veers away from the best possible conclusion when he says “evangelicals” ought to take up with concerned atheists and humanists, although he’s right; but first they ought to listen to their fellow Christians.
Start with Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists and Roman Catholics, Dr. Marsh; we’ve been telling Baptists the truth this entire time. But you haven’t had ears to hear.
Once you listen to professed Christians in the mainline, to the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, take a little time to talk to the nearest LGBT person you can find. In five minutes they’ll make your ears burn. You’ll find out “evangelicals” have been as wrong about Gay people as your family was about Black folk in the ’60s; and as you’re now telling us, four years late, “evangelicals” were wrong about Bush, wrong about the war, and wrong about Jesus Christ.
Pick up the pace, Dr. Marsh. It’s easy to criticize the war now that it’s already lost.++