A Plea to Stop Stereotyping
I recommend an opinion piece in the Washington Post entitled "Let's Stop Stereotyping Evangelicals." It is somewhat off topic, but I thought some readers might be interested, because it relates to other topics that have been discussed here: stereotyping and its relationship to bigotry and threatiness and theocracy. It also relates to the recent posts about Cornelia Dean and her stereotyping agenda of focusing only on the similarities between intelligent design and creationism, but keeping her readers in the dark about the very important differences. I think many find the differences more interesting than the similarities.
Here is a short excerpt:
It was in 1976 -- the "year of the evangelical," according to Newsweek -- that conservative Christians burst upon the political landscape. Critics have been warning about the theocratic takeover of America ever since. Thus the plaintive cry of a Cabinet member in the Carter administration: "I am beginning to fear that we could have an Ayatollah Khomeini in this country, but that he will not have a beard . . . he will have a television program."
This election season produced similar lamentations -- Howard Dean's warning about Christian "extremism," Kevin Phillips's catalogue of fears in "American Theocracy" and brooding documentaries such as "Jesus Camp," to name a few. This theme is a gross caricature of the 100 million or more people who could be called evangelicals. But the real problem is that it denies the profoundly democratic ideals of Protestant Christianity, while ignoring evangelicalism's deepening social conscience.
Evangelicals led the grass-roots campaigns for religious liberty, the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. Even the Moral Majority in its most belligerent form amounted to nothing more terrifying than churchgoers flocking peacefully to the polls on Election Day. The only people who want a biblical theocracy in America are completely outside the evangelical mainstream, their influence negligible.
. . .It is surely no thirst for theocracy but rather a love for their neighbor that sends American evangelicals into harm's way: into refugee camps in Sudan; into AIDS clinics in Somalia, South Africa and Uganda; into brothels to help women forced into sexual slavery; and into prisons and courts to advocate for the victims of political and religious repression.