Evangelical Muscle and Elite Embarrassment

It is often a surprise to the casual observer of the evangelical Christian community that there are deep concerns in matters of social and foreign policy ranging far beyond the issues of abortion or homosexuality that dominate public discussion of evangelical involvement.

Stan Guthrie, a senior editor at Christianity Today, writes of this surprise, but also of the elitism that decries the Christians beating the lions in the arena. Guthrie posts on his personal blog:

[NY Times columnist Nicholas] Kristof writes in his July 24 column, for example, “[T]hese days liberals should be embarrassed that it’s the Christian Right that is taking the lead in spotlighting repression in North Korea.” Two days later, Kristof wrote, “Time magazine gets credit for putting Darfur on its cover—but the newsweeklies should be embarrassed that better magazine coverage of Darfur has often been in Christianity Today.” (Disclosure: As an editor at CT, I’ve played a small role in coordinating some of that embarrassing coverage.)

Do you detect a pattern here? Acknowledging that theologically conservative Christians have been pivotal in fighting and spotlighting human rights abuses worldwide, Kristof nevertheless expresses an unconscious elitism. Being beaten by a presumed equal is no shame. But losing to an inferior is necessarily an embarrassment.

The good coverage in CT may have been a reflection of the consistent, and apparently effective, efforts of evangelical groups maintaining pressure on the Administration on hotspots such as North Korea and Sudan.

There’s a recent effort of this type at a Christian festival in Midland, Texas.

The displays were part of a growing movement by conservative Christian groups to press the White House on human rights in North Korea, much the way they drew attention to the civil war in Sudan and kept pressure on Mr. Bush after his first days in office.

These are not rare, only under-publicized by MSM. Instead, they’re trying to create a frenzy around the protests of the grieving mother who lost a son in Iraq and is now camped in Crawford .

–James Jewell

About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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