Libbruls unfair to evangelicals

Richard Bartholomew signs an open letter to Jim Wallis from writers about US religion and politics. The letter says

Dear Jim Wallis,

We are writing in response to your e-mail to the Sojourners list on September 29th, and your similar piece on The Huffington Post, in which you claim that “some liberal writers” — whom you do not name — are broad brushing evangelical Christians as “intellectually-flawed right-wing crazies with dangerous plans for the country.” You characterize unnamed writers — writers like us — as people who are “all too eager to discredit religion as part of their perennial habit and practice.” This charge is as unfair as it is unsubstantiated.

we are concerned that you have endorsed the essay by Mark I. Pinsky that appeared recently in USA Today. That piece attacked some of us by name and all of us by implication. Pinsky’s is but the latest in a series of prominently published smears against those of us who write about these subjects and their ties to powerful political interests. We are disturbed that you would cheer on these ad hominem attacks.

Finally, Pinsky tries to blame much of the published criticism of these elements of evangelicalism on left-wing Jews. We, including the majority of us who are not Jews, view this as a transparent effort to intimidate Jewish writers. We are shocked that you are endorsing and promoting Pinsky’s attack on these writers, whose work is well-sourced and painstakingly researched.

We want to remind you that in his essay Pinsky goes so far as to compare the work of those four Jewish writers to some of the worst anti-Semitic smears in history, including false claims that Jews had “horns and tails, ate the blood of Christian children and poisoned the wells of Europe with plague.. [and] conspired to rule the world through our Protocols.”

Whatever one may think of any of our published work, the fact is that none of it is remotely analogous to the false claims in the various notorious anti-Semitic forgeries known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Pinsky ‘s equation of the work of the writers he names with the Protocols is despicable.

We value honest disagreement and debate, and hope that you value these as well. Indeed, as writers we know how essential they are to clarifying and even resolving differences, correcting errors of fact — and dare we say, perspective. These are necessary ingredients for democracy itself. We invite you take issue with any specific facts or characterizations in our work. Then we will have something to talk about. But we will not be silent in the face of smears and intimidation tactics — which are so very far from the values of the faith traditions from which many of us hail, and the civic values of free speech and respect for religious pluralism that we all share.

We call on you to stop making false characterizations of our work and stop promoting the false characterizations of others. We also specifically ask that you rethink your support for Pinsky’s smear and withdraw it.

The letter is also signed by Barry Lynn and Rachel Tabachnick among others.

There are even more things wrong with Wallis’s article than the ones cited in the open letter.

Let me try to be clear as someone who is part of a faith community that is, once again, being misrepresented, manipulated, and maligned. Most people believe me to be a progressive political voice in America. And I am an evangelical Christian.

I believe in one God, the centrality and Lordship of God’s son Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, the authority of the scriptures, the saving death of the crucified Christ and his bodily resurrection — not as a metaphor but a historical event. Yep, the whole nine yards.

I take him to be agreeing with the “most people” who consider him a progressive. The things he believes are incompatible with his being a progressive. That doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t a progressive in some sense, just as a scientist “can” also be religious, but it does mean that his religious beliefs are in tension with his politics. That’s because what he believes is a matter of dogma and authority, and it includes “the Lordship” of Jesus. It’s hierarchical and it’s inherently arbitrary and thus authoritarian, because there is no good reason to believe any of that. Believing arbitrary authoritarian things for no good reason is not progressive.

I love my liberal church friends, but am more theologically conservative. I have many allies on the religious left, but I am not a member of it. I work closely with brothers and sisters of other faith traditions where we have common concerns, but I will never compromise the truth of my own faith.

Same again. It’s not “progressive” to think that way. The last ten words are inherently anti-progressive.

Millions of evangelicals are neither conservative Republicans, part of the Religious Right, nor members of the tea party, and they don’t believe that Christian “Dominionists” or any other religious group, should take over America — despite what a rash of recent articles and commentaries have said.

I wonder if he actually knows that, or just made it up. Millions? Really? How many millions? Two? Does anyone know that?

Now for Mark Pinsky’s article

Though some of the writers hail from Brooklyn or Washington, D.C., the tone is what I’d call “Upper West Side hysteric,” a reference to the fabled New York City neighborhood. The thrust of the writing is that these exotic wackos — some escaped from a theological and ideological freak show — are coming to take our rights and freedom.

Chief among these are books such as Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, Rabbi James Rudin’s The Baptizing of America, and several titles by Sara Diamond.

These days, it’s hard to turn to liberal websites, public radio or MSNBC without encountering some “investigation” or “exposé” of a splinter, marginal figure, such as David Barton or John Haggee, from the evangelical world — followed by some tenuous if not tortured connect-the-dots link to a presidential or congressional candidate. Most recently, Rachel Tabachnick’s Web piece on the New Apostolic Reformation has generated ink and air.

I’m as left wing a Democrat as they come, and I have lived among and reported on evangelicals for nearly 20 years. Let me tell you, this sensational, misleading mishegas has got to stop.

Oh no it doesn’t. It’s not splinter or marginal enough to ignore. It’s not safe to ignore active theocrats.

If, as Jews, we replace the old caricature of hayseed fundamentalist mobs carrying torches and pitchforks with one of dark conspirators trying to worm their way back into political power at the highest levels, we run the risk of accusing them of doing to others what we are doing to them: demonizing. We didn’t like it when people said we had horns and tails, ate the blood of Christian children and poisoned the wells of Europe with plague, much less conspired to rule the world through our Protocols.

Nice – comparing investigative journalism with lies and forgeries.

With friends like Jim Wallis…you know the rest.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Every time Jim Wallis‘s name is mentioned, his signature on public statements opposing abortion rights and gay marriage should follow directly.

  2. Ken Pidcock says


    And some liberal writers — many of whom live in the same zip codes in New York, Washington, D.C., and California —

    Yeah, and we know what that mean, don’t we?

  3. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    The poor evangelicals. People tell the truth about them and they whine about how persecuted they are.

  4. Marta says

    I’m beginning to think that if you scratch a liberal evangelical, you’ll find a conservative evangelical underneath.

    Jim Wallis. Huge disappointment. And who can overlook his sniveling cowardice earlier this year in the rejection of a simple advertisement targeted to the gay members of his community?

  5. johnfarnham says

    I was about to bypass this as another apologist piece for those who advertise ‘Good News’ while preaching the Talmud and flog Biblical Inerrancy when referring to the teachings of one murdered over his political challenge to corruption in Theocracy.
    Since I know somewhat about Dominionism already and you obviously do too, I’ll cut to my customary link gift
    Talk To Action [].

  6. vicarofartonearth says

    ” are broad brushing evangelical Christians as “intellectually-flawed right-wing crazies with dangerous plans for the country.”

    It is not broad brushing, it is because evangelical Christians are intellectually flawed right wing crazies with dangerous plans for the world. Just look at their missionaries wanting to sacrifice gay Ugandans to Jesus, and they might just make it legal there.

    Maybe a very few are liberals, there are log cabin or gay Republicans, but they are a very small minority. No political writer says Republicans are against gay marriage, except for this small number of voters who believe…..

    If you are a liberal christian, go to a liberal christian cult. Like the conservatives say, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and hangs out with ducks, it is most likely a animal that thinks like a duck.

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