Friday, April 12, 2013

Evangelicals: Givers or Hate-Mongers

A giver tends to be other-centered. We call that “love.” Love puts the needs of others first. It is the antithesis of hate.

Are evangelicals are hate-mongers and extremists? According to a letter from Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, even the US military is now associating Evangelicals and Catholics with the Klu Klux Klan and other terroristic organizations. He makes to following observations:

  • A Fort Leavenworth War Games scenario identified Christian and Evangelical groups as potential threats
  • A 2009 Dept. of Homeland Security memo identified Evangelicals and pro-life groups as potential threats to national security
  • The U.S. Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Center released a study linking pro-lifers to terrorism
  • Evangelical leader Franklin Graham was uninvited from the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer service
  • At the National Cemetery in Houston, Christian prayers were prohibited at the funeral services for military veterans
  • Distribution of Bibles was banned for a time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
  • Christian crosses and a steeple were removed from a chapel in Afghanistan because the military said the icons disrespected other religions
However, hate groups do not fit the profile of giving, other-centered groups. KKKers don’t feed the poor and volunteer their services to carry meals to the home-bound. Just today, the most recent Barna survey on giving was posted:

  • A person’s religious identification has a lot to do with whether or not they donate to causes they believe in. Evangelicals were far and away the group most likely to donate money, items or time as a volunteer. More than three-quarters of evangelicals (79%) have donated money in the last year, and 65% and 60% of them have donated items or volunteer time, respectively. Additionally, only 1% of evangelicals say they made no charitable donation in the last 12 months. Comparatively, 27% of those with a faith other than Christianity say they made no charitable donation in the last year—a number more than double the national rate (13%). One-fifth of people who claimed no faith said they made no donation over the last year, still noticeably higher than the number for all Americans.

  • Interestingly, the difference between evangelical Christians and non-evangelical born again Christians was marked. While 79% of evangelicals made a financial donation over the last year, 53% of non-evangelical born agains [these are respondents who claim a personal relationship with Jesus but don’t ascribe to the basics of the biblical faith] said the same. The number of non-evangelical born again Christians who didn’t make a donation matches the national average exactly (13%), compared to the only 1% of evangelicals.

Ironically, Evangelicals are called the worst of names – “hypocrites,” “bigots,” and “hate-mongers.” However, the stats don’t ever seem to back up these hateful invectives. Perhaps something more is at issue. Even 2000 years ago, Jesus warned:

  • "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:18-20)
Of course, we are miles away from where we need to be, but should this make us objects of persecution? No! How then do we explain it? Oddly, it is this 2000 year old warning that best captures our post-Christian society.

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