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Michael Gerson’s Grasp of Evangelicals is Slipping

To judge by his column in today’s Washington Post, Michael Gerson has little grasp of the evangelical world.

It is true that evangelicals are generally not libertarian. They admit a place for government in encouraging values and caring for the needy. Yet they do not believe that governmental elites share their values or have their best interests at heart. Among conservative Christians, government is often viewed as a force of secularization — a source of both bureaucratic regulation and moral deregulation. By identifying with expanded government, Obama fed long-standing evangelical fears of the aggressive, secular state.

Michael, here’s a news flash. Evangelicals may make common cause with libertarians from time to time, but overall they are about as far from libertarians as you’re going to find. Their concern is that the state is too secular, not that it is too aggressive.

Instead of a limited government, evangelicals want an expanded government. They don’t simply want it, but they’re working hard to make it happen:

  • Abortion? Get government into every woman’s womb, as soon as possible.
  • Sex education? Force states to teach ‘abstinence only’ and don’t talk about contraception and STD prevention via condoms.
  • Evolution? Require schools to teach creationism alongside it.
  • Homosexuality? Use all the power of government to stamp it out and otherwise express disapproval of it — DADT, DOMA, laws/constitutional amendments to sanction discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation, etc.
  • The Military? They want to turn it into a literal Army of God, spreading the Good News at gunpoint.

To say that evangelicals fear big government is laughable. They love big government — as long as they get to run it.

If this column is any indication of Gerson’s grasp of religion and politics, his new book should be on the fiction table.

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Peterr

Peterr

I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.

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