Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Cosmopolitan evangelical power elite

Here’s a review of Faith in the Halls of Power, based on interviews with many conventionally successful evangelicals. A snippet:

More than a few writers and pundits, noting the new prominence of evangelicals in American life (not least, that of George W. Bush), warn of a looming theocracy with proselytizing impulses and apocalyptic visions. But Mr. Lindsay, listening to his interview subjects talk about their faith, "found little support for the conspiracy theorists who think evangelicals are plotting to take over America." For starters, the members of the evangelical elite are too divided to embrace a single ideology. Most are Republicans, but many others lean to the left. The first politician profiled in "Faith in the Halls of Power" is Jimmy Carter. Al Gore, Mr. Lindsay notes, participated in Washington’s evangelical prayer groups, too.

Many evangelicals in high positions, in fact, reject the "populist evangelicalism" of the new Christian right. They go "out of their way," Mr. Lindsay observes, to say that they have "never read Left Behind," the series of end-of-the-world novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Instead of celebrating "apocalyptic pot-boilers," one-fourth of Mr. Lindsay’s interview subjects cited C.S. Lewis as a strong personal influence.

Shocking, isn’t it? The larger and more successful a group becomes, the less distinctive it is.

Discussions - 1 Comment

American society influences evangelicals at least as much as evangelicals influence American society. By and large, the dominant culture weakens them and undermines their distinctive identity. In addition, the idea of a "cosmopolitan evangelical power elite" is a rather extraordinary, TRIPLE contradiction in terms. Evangelicals are ipso facto not cosmopolitans. I would also argue that they have little power in American society and are in no significant way an elite. Not a knock on them, just an observation. As for "niceness," most tend to be too nice about politics, and, at the same time, insufficiently sophisticated in their public arguments. Which will make little headway until such time as they are heard, respectfully and without distortion, by people who are not orthodox Christians, and indeed by people who are either post-Christian or not Christian at all.

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