Saturday, February 12, 2005

Ed Cook on Evangelicals

Ed Cook on his wonderful Blog Ralph the Sacred River writes on evangelicals:

"2. My definition, as I noted, was not intended to be applicable either historically or globally. Based on the article in Time, I think the word meant something different 30-40 years ago than it does now, as I indicated. I think the addition of the political component is probably at least partly due to the influence of Francis Schaeffer and possibly Carl Henry, who very much wanted to see a full-fledged culture conflict in the US, with evangelical Christianity driving back the forces of secular humanism, both politically and religiously.

My impression is that overall evangelicalism identifies with this ideal, but that Schaeffer's program has been co-opted by power brokers in the Republican party."
This opinion -- the anti-secular crusaders have been co-opted by the right-wing imperialist, corporate wing of the Republican party -- is quite common. No doubt there is some truth to that point of view. Yet I have often wondered if that perception is naive. Many of these organizations are linked by umbrella organizations such as the Council on National Policy, a shadowy right-wing organization of organizations that in turn is closely linked to the Far Right Christian Reconstructist movement, many of whose members are founding individuals of key right-wing institutions. The CNP itself was founded by Tim LeHaye of Left Behind fame, and Nelson Bunker Hunt, a Bircher and a funder of the Campus Crusade for Christ. I am not even sure there is so much difference between the corporate and "Christian" sides of things that one can speak of "co-opting" -- they seem to be two sets of scales on the same snake, seeming different only because of the twists in the creature. In any case I am forcibly reminded that many industrialists, and many watching from the outside, assumed that Hitler and the Nazis could be co-opted and used. Let us remember who was actually using who, and who, in the end, won out.

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