Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Evangelical?

A few weeks ago, after reading the story regarding the weekend of religious themed observances at the National Cathedral in Washington, I wondered both aloud and on Facebook why there was no representative of our country’s large evangelical Christian community invited to take part in these events. I am prone to occasional bouts of pondering and so I began to do just that. I think I’ve finally come to a conclusion and that conclusion is, simply, that evangelicals are mean, ornery, narrow-minded, violent, selfish people who don’t deserve to have a voice in any sort of public discourse, let alone something as important as marking the tenth anniversary of such a tragic event as the terrorist attacks of 9/11. How could I not have seen it before when it’s as plain as the little round nose on the end of my bearded face? As my kids wold say, “DUH?!?”
In fact, I go to church with some of these thugs! Do you know that every time there is a natural disaster of some sort, there is a group of men from my church who have the nerve to pack up and travel to wherever that disaster happened and try to help the people affected by it? What a bunch of self-serving, right-wing goons! They don’t waste time, either! The people who may have lost their homes or other belongings haven’t even had time to fill out a pile of paper work only to be given more paperwork by FEMA before these guys in their yellow shirts are already pulling into town wielding chainsaws and all sorts of other tools to clear debris or do whatever else might need doing. They even set up mobile kitchens so that victims and volunteers alike can have a hot meal! How obnoxious and divisive can some people be? In an as yet unrivaled show of pure meanness and spite, one of these guys actually spent time in NYC following the 9/11 attacks helping to clean up, among other things, the apartments of people that had been damaged by the collapse of the twin towers. Good gravy!

There is another church in my city that selfishly and small-mindedly decided that they would not only create a charity that helps those in our community who may be in need, but they actually created a space right in their church building where someone could actually sleep and shower if they happened to be traveling through and had no money for a place to rest and clean up. Another church started a food pantry that, when they still had it at their church, had a line of cars waiting for hours on Saturday mornings to get food. How dare they?

I became a Christian in 1977. My father is a Baptist minister who pastored various churches for almost 50 years. I’ve been around an evangelical or two in my time. With very, very few exceptions, I’ve known them to be loving, caring people who want to share the love of Christ with a world that seems to be in desperate need of something permanent. Something that will give them security and peace in tumultuous times. Christ can do that, so they want to share it. Some may be misguided in their methods and understanding and some will make mistakes. Sometimes, big ones. We never claimed perfection, only forgiveness. And, like every group of people who adhere to the same or similar beliefs, be they social, political, religious, or otherwise, there are those on the fringe who claim to be followers of Christ but their deeds do not bear their alleged beliefs out. Those who would kill an abortion provider in the name of Jesus would fall into this category. They are few and far between, though. We shouldn’t all be judged violent or dangerous simply based upon the actions of an occasional nut-job who decides to do something foolish. That is unfair at best and demonstrates a terrible misunderstanding of what a real evangelical is and what their objective is.

Don’t be afraid or run and hide the next time you see the big, bad evangelical coming down your street. They’re pretty harmless and if you have a tree on your house they’ll probably help you cut it up and move it. You might even get a hot meal out of the deal.

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