Christian Culture warriors like James Dobson and Al Mohler are well regarded amongst American Evangelical Christians. They speak up for what they believe and, importantly, they bring the Bible to bear on important social issues.
But sometimes it's not what they say that is important, but what they don't say. And sometimes what they don't say speaks volumes for their potential hypocrisy.
What two issues are Christian culture warriors known for jumping on? Homosexuality and Abortion. Both Dobson and Mohler have spent considerable time arguing that "activist judges" have hijacked the US constitution and passed laws that go against God's will. In this, the Roe vs Wade decision is an important point. As a result, they have both given relatively unqualified support for the nomination of Harriet Miers to the bench of the Supreme Court - based on their belief that Miers as an evangelical Christian will uphold Christian values as one of the nation's most important judges.
I would like to know, however, what Dobson and Mohler have said about the instances of torture inflicted upon prisoners-of-war by US troops during the war on Terrorism. I would like to know their thoughts on the imprisonment without trial of those "illegal combatants" in Guantanamo Bay.
Americans generally have very diverse thoughts on these two subjects - but for an Evangelical the issue is a no brainer. A person who loves God and who adheres to Sola scriptura cannot, in good conscience, support an administration that encourages the torture of prisoners of war - they can't. Moreover, Evangelical Christians have a great love of justice - so why is it that these Evangelical leaders have not spoken out against the detention without trial of these suspects in Cuba?
The reason is simple - their goals are not biblical nor god-honouring, but essentially political.
There is every reason to criticise the Evangelical George Bush for misleading the world about Iraq, and for his administration's abysmal stance on prisoner abuse. As an evangelical myself, I cannot fathom how a person regenerate of the Holy Spirit can order the invasion of a foreign nation - with all the suffering that it has caused to millions of people - without any real plan on how to bring that nation to peace and prosperity. I certainly can't fathom how a born-again Christian can defend the use of torture.
But Dobson, Mohler and others are conveniently silent about this. For them, it's all about defeating the godless liberals and bringing America back under God's rule. It's all about mom and apple pie. It's not about Iraqi children being blown apart by cluster bombs.
This selective stance overtly favours the incumbent party and the Bush administration. Because the GOP is the party of the godly, criticism - especially from the culture warriors from Colarado Springs - is not helpful. Loyalty to the party line is, in the practice of these evangelical leaders, more important than loyalty to the Bible.
And that, essentially, disqualifies them from being true evangelicals.
So while Dobson and Mohler speak loudly about the decline in moral values in American society, is it any wonder that they are increasingly seen as simplistic party hacks, drinking the Republican Kool-Aid and telling people to stop thinking and trust that the President is doing the right thing?
True evangelicals will speak out about sin - but they will do so without fear or favour for any party or, for that matter, any president who claims to be an evangelical. They must be seen to be fair in their assertions and loving in their engagement with the world. They must engender respect from their opponents for their honesty and their courage, refusing to use the tools of the enemy.
Who are these true evangelical leaders? No one that I know of.
From the One Salient Overlord Department
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.