Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

12/20/2008 (3:04 pm)

Anti-Religious Bigotry Makes the Headlines

Probably the most controversial news of the week was President-elect Obama’s announcement that he’s asked Rev. Rick Warren, Evangelical and pastor of the Saddleback Church in southern California, to pronounce the benediction at his inauguration. I noted with some surprise back in August, back when CNN broadcast Warren’s non-debate between the presidential candidates from Saddleback Church, that Evangelicalism seems to have gone mainstream. Obama’s progressive supporters hoped that they were electing a full-bore progressive President; Obama seems to be saying instead that he’s everybody’s President. Gays are furious — although, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out with some amusement, Warren’s position on gay marriage is identical to Obama’s.

Coincident with this stunning flap, I was reading reviews on Amazon this morning for a book entitled unChristian, by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group, a polling organization. The book apparently documents common reactions to Evangelical Christians based on a lengthy study, and they’re uniformly negative. I have not read the book, but one of the reviews gives us the flavor of it:

In his book The Heart of Christianity (2003) Marcus Borg of Oregon State University describes how his university students have a uniformly negative image of Christianity. “When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity,” says Borg, “they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted…”

A new book called unChristian (2007) by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group presents objective research that supports Borg’s subjective anecdote. Kinnaman’s three-year study documents how an overwhelming percentage of sixteen to twenty-nine year olds view Christians with hostility, resentment and disdain.

These broadly and deeply negative views of Christians aren’t just superficial stereotypes with no basis in reality, says Kinnaman. Nor are the critics people who’ve had no contact with churches or Christians… Rather, it’s based upon their real experiences with today’s Christians. In addition to their statistical research, the book includes anecdotes from people who were interviewed, follow-on comments at the end of each chapter by some 30 Christian leaders, and reflections about why we’ve come to such a place and how we might make it better…

According to Kinnaman’s Barna study, here are the percentages of people outside the church who think that the following words describe present-day Christianity:

* antihomosexual 91%
* judgmental 87%
* hypocritical 85%
* old-fashioned 78%
* too political 75%
* out of touch with reality 72%
* insensitive to others 70%
* boring 68%

It would be hard to overestimate, says Kinnaman, “how firmly people reject– and feel rejected by– Christians” (19). Or think about it this way, he suggests: “When you introduce yourself as a Christian to a friend, neighbor, or business associate who is an outsider, you might as well have it tattooed on your arm: antihomosexual, gay-hater, homophobic. I doubt you think of yourself in these terms, but that’s what outsiders think of you” (93).

I’ll plead guilty to being occasionally too political, and even to being boring; you all would know better than I. However, the culture’s negative feeling about Evangelicals is not static, it’s grown over the years, and I don’t think that’s because the Church has changed all that much (it may be because the Church has not changed all that much.) I think it’s because the culture has changed — and I think this produces a real danger for Christians, in more ways than one. One danger, of course, is the growing possibility of social or political persecution. The other danger, though, is the danger of inviting the culture to change the Church in the wrong ways, and for the wrong reasons.

I’ve been an Evangelical, or at least a quasi-Evangelical for about 35 years, so I’ve heard all of these complaints directed against me, more than a few times. Those of you who have read this blog more than once can imagine how I might react to the charge that I’m anti-intellectual. Yes, I’ve heard that one. Against me. Plenty of times. Usually from boneheads who can’t reason their way properly out of a paper bag that’s open at both ends. It’s pretty galling.

I’ll never forget the time a woman my father was dating (my mom died in 1988) told me that I was not capable of objective reason because I was religious. I noted that if that was true, aptitude tests of my analytical ability somehow failed to pick it up. This woman was obviously intelligent, insofar as she was well-read, had a decent vocabulary, and enjoyed discussing current topics, but I didn’t notice any reasoning ability to justify her superior pretensions. In fact, aside from the fact that she was simply a horrible human being (an opinion probably colored by my emotions since she was trying to replace my mother, dammit) she was obviously so bigoted as to be unable to render a sound opinion about religious people.

This is a lot more common than modern critics like Kinnaman acknowledge. Yes, I’m absolutely sure that the average person in Kinnaman’s survey responded that Evangelicals are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted. That doesn’t mean that they are. I think there are plenty of true adjectives that can be applied to most Evangelical churches, but I’m also willing to wager that when measured objectively against the general population (however that might happen,) those would not be among them.

On the contrary, I think that particular list is the product of anti-intellectual, judgmental, self-righteous bigotry on the part of the Church’s critics. It’s one of the ironies of the human soul that those who judge, usually accuse others of the things of which they, themselves, are guilty. I mean, come on — reread that list of adjectives in the green quotation block, above, and try to convince me that the people saying those things are not being judgmental.

It’s a useful exercise, once in a while, to listen to your critics and ask yourself whether they’ve got a point. I’m not sorry Kinnaman wrote his book, and I really want to read it. However, that sort of self-evaluation is no place to live, and especially not when you’re trying to live by the will of the living God, and you suspect that your critics mostly want to deflect uncomfortable truths from touching themselves. We don’t need to conform to our critics’ will, but to God’s.

One of my deep concerns about the emerging church is that its goals have been formed by the hostile rationalizations of the unredeemed. The loudest voices calling for social justice in the modern Western world are the voices of politically-motivated neo-Marxists, not of people genuinely concerned about real human needs. What they call “justice” is not justice at all, it’s divisive class warfare aimed at destroying capitalism and ushering in a tyrannical socialist regime. Even those who don’t agree to their political goals have been influenced by their vision, and mimic it when speaking of “reform;” though they may be sincere, their understanding of the human soul is often so inaccurate that their notion of what people actually need is useless. This is no place for a Christian to receive guidance.

Aiming at social justice and helping the poor is good, but conforming to the current, cultural view of what that looks like will eventually discredit the Church, since it will eventually lead to social disintegration. Worse, it will not help the poor. Progressive policies invariably harm the poor, rather than helping. I’ve spent plenty of time in the ghetto, and most of the people I’ve met there won’t be any better off if you give them money, nor will government protection from oppressors do much for them. What most of them need is righteousness, and often their fortunes change as they begin to acquire it. It doesn’t take rocket science to imagine why someone might be accused of being “judgmental,” “old-fashioned,” or “insensitive” for saying so, even if it’s true — especially if it’s true.

I am naturally concerned that the level of bigotry against Christians is growing. I am open to being convinced that Christians, themselves, are responsible for some part of that growing animosity. I am aware that churches generally need to reflect current fashions around them if they’re going to communicate with the culture at large. However, the negative opinions of my neighbors do not prove that I’m guilty of what they charge; especially not when the Messiah Himself took the trouble to warn me that they were going to dislike me on His behalf.

Thomas Jefferson gave sound advice that Christians need to take to heart:

On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.

There are some things a man has to stand by even if the entire world calls him bad names.

06/26/2008 (7:08 am)

Hating Evangelicals in the Public Square

No sooner do I take on the academic distaste for Evangelicals than the same topic pops up in the political square. How convenient.

Yesterday a small brouhaha erupted when James Dobson, radio host of Focus on the Family, did a little critique of a speech by Barack Obama about religion in the public square. The speech was an old one; it had been delivered in June of 2006, as the keynote address to a religious conference called “Call to Renewal,” put on by the politically progressive religious group Sojourners.

Here’s an uncharacteristically fair report on the discussion from Jake Tapper of ABC News:

You can hear Dobson’s entire critique, and Obama’s speech in its entirety, here at CitizenLink.com, FOTF’s political action blog. Dobson’s radio portion is the small bar just above Obama’s picture. You have to sit through Dobson’s tribute to Tim Russert, but that’s actually very nice.

Now, I’ve never thought Dr. James Dobson, child psychologist, was particularly cogent on political subjects, and I don’t think he makes his case correctly on this one. (His books on child-rearing are another matter; I used them, and they were outstanding.) However, he was right to be incensed by Obama’s faux libertarianism, and whether he makes his point well or not, he’s on the side of the angels this time.

The speech was standard Obama fare, solidly Progressive while couched in the language of conciliation. Obama fancies himself a negotiator and reconciliation counselor, and often offers advice for keeping the conversation civil, but his terms usually favor the left. It’s a couple of those moments that agitated Dr. Dobson, enough to make him respond 2 years after the fact.

Objectionable point number 1:

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.

There’s a lot for an Evangelical to get agitated about here, but I’ll focus on just one.

For a conciliator, Obama makes a huge goof by comparing Dobson with the Reverend Al Sharpton. This would be like saying to a Democrat, in the context of explaining why we don’t have political classes in public schools, “Whose politics should we teach? Yours, or David Duke’s?” The implication, of course, would be that the Democrat represents on the left what David Duke represents on the right. Do you suppose the Daily Kos Kids might have a few choice words about that comparison?

Nobody objects to Al Sharpton because of his religion; we don’t even know what his theology is, nor do we care. Al Sharpton is a professional racist. He runs a protection racket; he routinely hustles money out of legitimate businesses by threatening them with racial demonstrations if they don’t contribute to his organization. He deliberately inflames tense situations by invoking race in order to garner attention for himself. Some of his attention games have resulted in riots, and in innocent people being killed; others, in people having to fight in court and the public square for their liberty. You may disagree with Dr. Dobson’s politics, but the man has never in his entire life engaged in the sort of sleazy, self-aggrandizing demagoguery for which Sharpton is known. The comparison is insulting and inappropriate.

Other avenues Dobson approaches here are valid as well: Obama’s application of Bible verses are distorted horribly, and then he rubs them in with “folks haven’t been reading their bibles.” Obama invokes multiculturalism inaccurately; a huge majority of citizens in the US self-identify as Christian, whereas no other group Obama mentions even represents double digits in the American population, except for non-believers.

My own take is that Obama’s point illustrates why there should be no public schools. If parents could send their children to the sectarian school of their choice, every parent would be satisfied with the religious content, every right would be protected, and every point of view adequately represented. It’s the act of the public providing universal schooling that creates the conflict in educational content, not the fact of sectarian opinions. I personally favor a completely private system, with public funding only for the very poorest students, but given the reality of near-universal public funding, I favor vouchered education that includes sectarian choices.

Obama’s offending comments, take 2:

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.

I have to admit that this is one topic on which I’m apt to throw my equanimity to the winds and simply explode. You want to hear me get steamed? Suggest that democracy requires that I stifle my religious opinions, like Obama does here.

Obama simply does not understand the American political system. And this putz wants to be President.

If Obama were simply offering avuncular wisdom, it would be fine: “You know, if you want to have more impact on people who disagree with you, you’ll do better if you take this approach.” Yes, for a religious person to have a wider appeal, this is sensible advice.

That’s not how it’s phrased, though, and it’s not what’s being said. Obama says democracy depends on such an approach. If Obama was simply giving advice, the consequence of not following it would be just “You’ll not be heard.” By contrast to that, he seems to be saying that the failure to put religious points in secular terms somehow damages the body politic — that it hurts us all. The reason he’s rapproaching Dobson thus is not that Dobson is hurting himself and not being heard; quite the contrary. Obama knows Dobson is being heard, by lots of people, and he wishes he wasn’t. His point is just another attempt by a leftist to get his opponent to shut up.

No agent can be prevented from engaging legally in free, political advocacy on the basis of the terms of that advocacy. Frank religious talk is protected, and, contrary to ridiculous readings of the establishment clause, there is not a single word of the Constitution that prohibits citizens from advocating their favored policies in the starkest religious terms possible (in fact, not a single word of the Constitution prohibits any citizen from doing anything; the Constitution limits the government, not the people).

I, personally, have no problem couching my own political points of view in secular terms, but let me be clear: I don’t do it because democracy demands it, I do it because I think it’s more effective. If Evangelicals want to advocate some policies publicly by saying “We believe it because it’s biblical,” that is their right, and no defender of liberty has any basis for silencing them. If Dobson cared to form policy on the basis of casting lots at midnight and barking at the moon during the vernal equinox at the center of Stonehenge, and then advocated it publicly on that basis, that is his right. If he can garner enough votes to pass his measure stated in those terms, he wins — as he should. There is no obligation to avoid religious language in political advocacy, none whatsoever. Religious people have every bit as much right to participate in the political process as anybody else, using any terms they choose, and any attempt to make them tone down their religious talk is tyranny, pure and simple.

Obama’s response, noted in the ABC News clip at the top of this post, was typical: “He must have misunderstood, or he’s just trying to score political points.” Jim Wallis of Sojourners takes a similar swipe at Dobson, calling his objection disingenuous. Wallis is wrong; Dobson is not being disingenuous, he’s heard this same attempt to get him to shut up thousands of times before, so he recognizes it when he hears it. He responded honestly to precisely what Obama meant. Obama’s point is the point of tyrants; Dobson correctly defends his own liberty, with my wholehearted approval.

06/24/2008 (3:42 pm)

Hating Evangelicals

One of my readers sent me a link to this article by Prof. Rick Hills about what Prof Hills called “Theophobia”. What he meant by it was that in his experience, a lot of college professors irrationally fear Christians. This discussion at the Volokh Conspiracy that followed Prof. Hills’ article (the link leads to a collection of six posts about the same subject) led to the assessment that this is somewhat inaccurate; this incisive bit of research from the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, published in 2007, demonstrates that it’s not Christians, per se, that academics dislike, it’s Mormons and Evangelicals, especially Evangelicals.

Thirty-three percent of academics surveyed view Mormons unfavorably. Evangelicals fared much worse: 53% of surveyed professors say they have unfavorable feelings toward Evangelicals, and only 30% expressed any sort of warm or positive feelings toward them. By contrast, more than 60% of academics said they viewed non-Evangelical Christians and/or Catholics warmly or favorably. Only 22% of faculty expressed cool feelings toward Muslims, 18% toward atheists, and 13% toward Catholics. Other sections of the study show that the dislike of Evangelicals correlates strongly with liberal politics and with atheism or disinterest in religion; most notably, more than 70% of academics (more than 90% of those who self-identify as liberal) say that Evangelical Christians should keep their opinions out of politics.

So… what’s with that?

The discussion among the academics and legal geeks at Volokh favored the view that the dislike of Evangelicals was mostly a statistical marker for the mostly liberal professors’ dislike of conservative politics. I think they’ve got it backwards; the primary hatred is more about religion than about politics, and it’s the hatred of political conservatism that’s a misleading marker for the hatred of Evangelical Christianity.

The relationship between Evangelicalism and modern, political conservatism is indirectly causal; the American libertarian experiment is actually the product of a brand of Christianity and a level of religious devotion that more resembles modern Evangelical Protestantism than any other modern religious group, although, clearly, there are stark differences between the beliefs of America’s founders and those of modern Evangelicals. It’s the presuppositions of this historical brand of Protestant Christianity, the social and political effects of their particular faith, that modern, social and political progressives want to overturn. At its core, social and political progressivism are about overthrowing the Christianity of the West and replacing it with a “progressive” ethic, and since it’s Evangelicals that most vividly retain the marks of that Christianity that they want to erase, they hate Evangelicals, and wish they would just shut up already.

Note the tone of that last phrase. Lots of people in America find Evangelicals to be pretty irritating. It’s important to understand, though, precisely why they’re so irritating. And before you Evangelicals get angry with me about saying that, please understand that I’m kinda one of you — I’m not an Evangelical, exactly, because my beliefs have evolved a little, but I met Jesus among Evangelicals, and still fellowship with them. I’m very definitely a Bible Guy. So let’s unpack this.

My older brother (one year ahead of me) returned from his freshman year at college with horror stories about his roommate. College freshmen don’t usually know anybody, so they take the luck of the draw for their first roommates; Bob’s luck (despite the name of the blog, it’s my brother who’s actually named “Bob;” I’m Phil) landed him with an immature Evangelical, and he griped about it long and loud. He recalled in particular one night when he’d brought his girlfriend back to the room and she’d stayed the night. The roommate spent the entire night sitting outside the room, wondering what he should do, and what he should say to my brother in the morning.

Bob was being an insensitive jerk, true (it’s characteristic of college freshmen, and unfortunately also characteristic of my family,) but if Roomie had been anything other than an Evangelical or a Mormon, chances are he’d have simply found some other place to sleep, and the next day’s conversation would have been in terms to which my brother could easily relate: “Hey, it’s my freakin’ bed, and I’d like to sleep in it, if you please. You should at least have given me some lead time, and if it starts happening every week, we’re going to have another talk.” This, however, was an Evangelical, and the discussion included three unpleasant additions: 1) the emotional angst this poor religious fellow experienced from sitting out there all night wondering what to do (which he blamed on my brother); 2) the grossly unwelcome addition of a moral factor: “What you’re doing is morally wrong, and I shouldn’t have to put up with it;” and 3) Roomie’s conscientious belief that he was morally and mortally obligated to emphasize the moral factor in order to rescue my brother from his self-destruction.

It’s those three factors, buttressed by a fourth, that make Evangelicals stick out so badly. They seem unable to absorb social rules that make life run smoothly for everybody else, rules about what topics may be raised and with whom; some of them actively look for ways to bring these topics up, and with perfect strangers. They dig in their heels against social changes, refusing to drift with the rest of the culture. And then, they have the bad manners to make a fuss about it repeatedly, because they feel responsible to reverse your social drift for your own good. The fourth element lies at the root of the other three: they’re basing their behavior and moral choices on their interpretation of a Book (capitalized because we’re talking about THE Book,) and their reliance on the Book makes them unapproachable. They won’t be dissuaded by reasonable argument if they’ve decided that The Book has a firm position on the subject. No number of surveys, no amount of research, no appeal to reason or good sense will move them from their stance. When Evangelicals — and, to a lesser extent, Mormons — decide they’re against something that other citizens are for, they become a Permanent Stone In Their Shoe.

That is irritating.

Now, let’s be fair. Social progressives do precisely the same thing, and worse. They believe they have the Special Knowledge to Save The Planet from war, poverty, pollution, and Evil Capitalists. They won’t ever stop telling you about it, and they’ll shamelessly resort to maudlin emotional appeals in order to trump whatever objection you might raise. They genuinely feel responsible for making you stop destroying yourself. They won’t be dissuaded; they’re impervious to fact or reason. And worse than Evangelicals, they resort to all sorts of illegal, immoral, and tyrannical power plays to force their Special Knowledge down the culture’s collective throat. The only real difference is, they’re not basing their stances on a Book. However, this post is not about them, so social progressives are off the hot seat for the moment. (Besides, social progressives rule the universities; the vast majority of professors are social progressives, so they get to answer surveys about how warm or cold they feel about Evangelicals. We should perhaps ask Evangelicals how warm they feel about their socially progressive professors.)

Actually, there’s one other difference. Social progressives are nearly always wrong; what they propose is usually disastrous. What Evangelicals propose, by contrast, makes them “The Very Worst Sort of Pain In the Ass:” they’re frequently right. They’re right often enough that they’re actually vindicated, at least partly, for relying on the Book instead of reacting to whatever catchphrase the latest research has made trendy.

I mean, it’s bad when somebody gets in your face over some moral issue about which they have not the slightest clue, either making irrational moral judgments or demonstrating sheer ignorance about what you’re doing. It’s orders of magnitude worse, though, when someone gets in your face over a moral issue about which you know, at some level you’d rather not examine, that you’re actually doing wrong.

This affects the issue in a way that I can’t prove, and which even if I’m right, no research will ever uncover because most people have deceived themselves about it. It’s this: I believe a huge proportion of most peoples’ irritation with Evangelicals is really about sex.

It’s one of those things that pops up only occasionally, when some college atheist is being unusually candid. The truth is, most of what Evangelicals believe is relatively easy to live with. We all agree that cheating on our taxes is wrong. We all agree that it’s better to honor your parents than not. But, doggone it, when the culture tells you that it’s perfectly natural for you to enjoy sex with your date long before you’re ready to make any sort of permanent commitment, it’s just horribly inconvenient to have people around actively trying to remind you that you’re really being a selfish jerk (which you already know perfectly well), and that if you had the self-control God gave an amoeba, you’d say goodnight and go sleep alone. I actually think this is such an issue for so many people that a large number of atheists, are atheists specifically because it excuses their sexual incontinence. It’s not that they don’t believe in God, it’s that they don’t want to, so they can do as they please and still consider themselves good people. But, they’ll seldom admit this, even to themselves. And don’t get me started on homosexuality…

I’m going to leave the evidence that Evangelicals are right for other posts. Admitting that Evangelicals may have a point about sex (and pornography, and abortion, and divorce, and homosexuality, and whatever else,) however, doesn’t really let them off the hook. The fact is, Evangelicals can be pretty rude about being right, and there’s no good excuse for that. When I was in the middle of my marital troubles, I got lectured by complete strangers who knew nothing other than some phrase they’d overheard me utter at that moment, and who claimed full authority to intrude based on some passage of scripture that commanded them to confront sin — ignoring the intense, personal relationships that such passages take for granted, and that are a prerequisite for even the gentlest rebuke having its intended effect.

On the other hand, the culture has been absurdly rude to them, marginalizing their books, sneering at their stances, mocking their ministers, and generally treating them like they’re just small-town hicks who have grown bitter, who “…cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations…” (Sound familiar?) Evangelical authors are among the best sellers in the world, but you’d never know it because the New York Times separates them into a completely separate category, for no good reason except the editors don’t consider their work serious. Evangelical speakers routinely fill the largest auditoriums in major cities, but except for Billy Graham, nobody knows their names because news reports simply black them out. It’s as though the culture at large decided that Evangelicals have no right to exist. And as Harry Stein observed in his entertaining rant, How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (and Found Inner Peace), Evangelicals mostly kept to themselves and didn’t really bother anybody until the social progressives started jamming their religion down their throats — and then, they started getting politically active.

Most of us have had bad experiences with an Evangelical at some point or other, like my brother had. He had some bad experiences with me, too; I was irritating when I first became Christian. What those of us who have never been the irritant don’t realize is that most of those bad experiences occur at the hands of immature Evangelicals. The ones who have been around a bit longer and grown up a bit more, have learned how to carry their beliefs in ways that don’t chafe as much. They’re far less likely to make an issue out of something until you’ve actually expressed a need to change something in your own life, and then, they’re the best friends anybody could ever want: patient, helpful, sensitive, and usually not intrusive at all. The years I’ve spent worshiping in Evangelical churches have been good years, mostly, and the people I’ve known there are the finest people on the planet. You just have to be willing to overlook the ones who are still irritating.

“Theophobia” is a rotten term for something that’s real — a deep-seated hatred among some atheists and non-Evangelicals against Evangelicals, a hatred that is partly about irritating habits, and partly about antipathetic social or political views. Along with hatred of white men of European descent, it’s the one, remaining bigotry that’s permitted in American culture. It appears as an expectation of intolerance, ignorance, and venom, expectations that are mostly unfair, but that have their roots in reactions against genuinely rude conduct. It’s real, and if you’re an Evangelical attending an American university, you’re going to face it.

There, galynn — does that help you?

12/29/2007 (12:52 pm)

Huckabust? and Bigotry

Dan Riehl is somewhat gleefully announcing Huckabee’s tidal wave receding.

Mr. Huckabee is learning how it works when you’re the Official Candidate of the Deprecated Minority, the minority in this case being Evangelical Christians. Bigoted slurs against Evangelicals are not just permissible, they’re obligatory.

This is not to excuse Mr. Huckabee, whose performance has been shallow and filled with mistakes. Rather, it’s to point out that if a Deprecated Minority (D.M.) candidate is to win, he’s got to be head and shoulders above his competitors, not just even with them. And heaven defend the D.M. who is sloppier than his foes!

An Evangelical can win a national election; one did, twice (George W. Bush.) But if one is to do it again, he either has to downplay his Evangelicalism, as Bush did, or he’d better be smart, well-financed, and very, very precise. Mike Huckabee is an intelligent, articulate and successful man, but he doesn’t seem up to the standard an Evangelical must hit if he’s going to win an election in the current, anti-Evangelical milieu.

All of the Democrat candidates have made factual flubs at least as egregious as Mr. Huckabee’s, but have been given a pass by the press. Evangelicals just, plain have to be better. This isn’t fair, but it’s fact.

Wonder why the multiculturalists aren’t leaping to their defense? Could their defense of Deprecated Minorities possibly be selective?