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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Go and make Republicans of all nations.

Dr Bruce Prescott, executive director of the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, explains how the Southern Baptist Convention has been transforming its missionary work from preaching the gospel to seeking political power (via Jesus Politics):

For the past fifteen years many Baptists around the country have been sending a tithe of their tithes to the SBC to support missionaries who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gospel around the world. Throughout that time the Fundamentalists have been methodically dismantling the system supporting professional, career missionaries that made our work effective. They've been micromanaging missionaries until they resign in frustration, firing missionaries who could not conscientiously support their bibliolatrous theology, and selling off/closing down the system of schools and hospitals in foreign lands that we created to earn a hearing for the gospel. In place of the former system, the Fundamentalists have created a system designed for short-term evangelistic work by a workforce with rapid turnover. In brief, our mission boards have become a placement center where SBC seminary graduates receive a brief internship before being dumped back into our churches. SBC Seminaries and Mission Boards have become little more than Ferris wheels that indoctrinate our churches in Fundamentalist theology and political ideology.

Missions is the bait that keeps money flowing to the SBC, but the money has been systematically switched to efforts to oil a machine that can control the secular political life of this country. To see this happening, all you have to do is look at the size of the increases for the past fifteen years in the budgets of the SBC's Executive Committee and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

In a starring role: Jerry Falwell! Wouldn't it be something to have him back on the national stage again? The 21st century is something wondrous to behold.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 11 November 2004 at 10:46 PM

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November 13, 2004 10:54 AM | Permalink for this comment

Also on this topic: At the Gadflyer, meet David Barton, who Sarah Posner tells us is eager to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state.


November 13, 2004 04:38 PM | Permalink for this comment

This topic makes me uneasy. Why is it so important to anyone to persuade everyone else to be like them? I understand the point of proselytizing, though I disagree with it. But what is the reasoning that extends it beyond spiritual life into politics and government?

Is it possible for an evangelical Christian to live peaceably with, and behave tolerantly toward, people of different beliefs, without constantly attempting to change those people's beliefs?

For me, part of my joy in life is the differences between people. When I spend much time with people who are all saying the same things, I'm simply bored. ;) And to me, part of the mystery and beauty of spirituality and religion is in the number of diverse paths to God.


November 13, 2004 05:33 PM | Permalink for this comment

Barbara, those of us who hold a basically liberal worldview — valuing diversity, tolerance, pluralism — confront a real challenge from the variety of Evangelicalism we're discussing. They simply don't value tolerance as a virtue.

The challenge for us has several dimensions. One is that, although we can't comprehend or share their perspective, we need to pay attention to it — and, I would argue, even find ways to imagine and appreciate its attractiveness to so many people. (Otherwise we'll underestimate its appeal.) Another part of the challenge is that we can't simply wish they saw things differently. We need to persuade as many people as possible that pluralism and liberalism are good for them. And we need to be prepared to mobilize, organize, and fight for the institutions that make a liberal order possible.

Antiliberal movements don't go away on their own. When they become compelling to large numbers of people, the threat to liberalism — I mean a pluralistic, diverse, and tolerant social order — requires our intensified, creative, ongoing efforts to spread the deepest values of liberalism. At the moment, we have no choice but to find new ways to articulate, share, institutionalize, and defend liberal values. Part of this is finding ways to help other people appreciate the joy and beauty you and I find in human diversity. We can't be shy about it. We simply have to find ways to stand up for our values.


November 13, 2004 06:08 PM | Permalink for this comment

I never did get around to writing it up on my own site, but Harold Kushner's speech at GA '03 touched upon the "healthy" as well as "bad" (his adjectives) attractions of fundamentalism, and that non-fundamentalists need to strive

to make thoughtful, liberal religion as emotionally inspiring as [fundamentalism]: not to violate reason but to transcend it. And to provide that sense of belonging, of shared hopes and commitments, that bonding communities supply.


November 13, 2004 07:01 PM | Permalink for this comment

Dr Prescott is a busy guy! Jesus Politics reports that he has set up another blog, Christian Democrats.

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