Certain leaders of the “Evangelical Christian”  movement are in a major snit over the fact that their brightest lights were not invited by the Episcopal Bishop of Washington to speak at an interfaith prayer vigil commemorating 9-11 to be held at the National Cathedral in Washington. (It’s since been moved to the Kennedy Center due to a crane accident.) The service will feature these religious leaders:
- an episcopal priest: Bishop Crane;
- a rabbi;
- a Buddhist nun and lama;
- a Hindu priest; and
- an imam.
Almost no one is complaining about the line up. People of Jewish faith are not up in arms about whether the rabbi in question leads a reformed, conservative, or an orthodox congregation. American Catholics — roughly 23% of the population — are not offended by their omission from the program. Ditto Mormons, Methodists, Presbyterians, Greek Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Unitarians, all of whom seem to feel that when the Rt. Rev. John Chane, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, bows his head in prayer for national unity on the Tenth Anniversary of September 11, he will be praying for them too. One group, though, feels otherwise, according to Fox News:
“It’s not surprising,” said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. “There is a tragic intolerance toward Protestants and particularly toward evangelicals and I wish the president would refuse to speak unless it was more representative.” . . .
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox News Radio the lineup was better suited for the United Nations than the United States. . . . “There’s no doubt that this is clearly politically correct,” Perkins told Fox News Radio. “It is historically inaccurate that in times of need or mourning that Americans pray to the Hindu or Buddhist Gods or the God of Islam. America is overtly a Christian nation that prays to the Judeo-Christian God – and specifically to Jesus Christ.” . . .
“Obviously, tolerance is at work here. In a nation whose current God is tolerance, it is absolutely hypocritical that the major group to be excluded and be intolerant of – is evangelical Christians.”
What is wrong with these people?
Note : The term “Evangelical Christians” is inside quote marks because it is defined inconsistently by people who write about the movement. In a broad sense, most Christians are evangelicals, by which they mean that the New Testament, particularly the writings of Paul the Apostle, speak of “spreading the good news.” And yet many Christians, including some Texas Baptists I know, greet people who share Tony Perkins’ views (and goals) with all the enthusiasm of a boil on the posterior. That does not, of course, stop evangelical leaders who view religion as a means to gain political power from claiming to speak for 25% of Americans. But they don’t really. What’s more, many self-identified “Evangelical Christians” are vocal supporters of religious tolerance. The National Association of Evangelicals, for example, has spoken out against torture, against the Qu’ran burning in Florida, and in favor of religious liberty defined correctly.