In the 1980’s, America started to see the rise of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others in an attempt to establish what was then called, “the Religious Right.” The group decided to take a conservative stance and ally themselves with the Republican Party. As time wore on, many people began to question some of the things the Religious Right was supporting, for instance, unbridled Capitalism, war at any cost, forbidding government money from helping the poor, etc. People questioned it because it seemed the Religious Right had abandoned the Bible in their pursuit of being conservative.
Enter what we can call the “Liberal Left” of evangelical Christianity, who began supporting peaceful solutions to global conflicts and supporting tax-payer money being used to help the poor. Both of those, I believe, have strong Biblical precedence. Unfortunately, the Liberal Left began to move further and further left, allying themselves with the Democratic Party and liberalism in general. They began to become silent on the issue of abortion (or in some cases, supportive of the pro-choice position). They began to embrace homosexuality as a lifestyle and go further than argue for the right to marry among homosexuals (which even someone who believes homosexuality is a sin can still believe homosexuals have the right to get married), but also teach that homosexuality wasn’t a sin.
And now they’ve taken an interesting turn in which they have become the Religious Right. They believe differently, but they have the same spirit. They’re just as venomous, just as abrasive, and just as rude as the Religious Right was. One need look no further than Franky Schaeffer’s postings on line or his interviews on Rachel Maddow where he compares those on the Religious Right to the Taliban or says they’re no better than the 9/11 terrorists.
What’s worse is anyone who disagrees with them is either silenced, stereotyped, or mocked. In my own anecdotal experience, no matter how respectful I was, I’ve been banned from commenting on some of Franky Schaeffer’s writings (by Franky Schaeffer) for opposing his views. I’ve been stereotyped by others for speaking out against homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. In the end, no matter how rational or respectful I was, I was eventually mocked on one website for my stance on issues. I was stereotyped into some caricature that has a mission in life and if some evidence contradicts that mission, then I either ignore the evidence or rationalize it into my view. Of course, those who know me know that I take every bit of evidence and carefully consider it. They know that I don’t simply dismiss ideas offhand and that I spend time studying them. But none of that matters to the Liberal Left, who HAVE to stereotype you.
The reason they have to stereotype opponents is the same reason the Religious Right has to stereotype opponents; it’s much more difficult to respond to an individual than it is to respond to a collective strawman that we’ve built up. The Religious Right opponents can say, “Liberals want to destroy America! If you love America, you better vote Republican!” It’s easier to say that than to deal with liberal arguments, especially where liberals make valid arguments that have Scriptural base. Alternatively, it’s easier for the Liberal Left to say, “Oh, you hate homosexuals no matter what you say. You just don’t understand them and obviously you haven’t considered their feelings, otherwise you’d believe the same way I do.” The argument is easy to make and takes little to no thinking, but it ignores the fact that someone who view homosexuality as a sin and be against legalized homosexual unions, but still harbor no hatred for homosexuals, have studied the issue, and even taken into consideration the feelings of homosexuals. Dealing with such a person, from the liberal perspective, is difficult because such a person doesn’t fit into the pre-made caricature. Thus, most on the Liberal Left will do what is done on the Religious Right; isolate the person, stereotype the person, and eventually mock the person without ever truly considering what was said.
For those who are turning against the Religious Right, such as myself, we must never succumb to the temptation to turn to the Liberal Left. Rather, we should base our views upon Scripture and the tradition of 2,000 years of Christian history. We should listen to all viewpoints, carefully consider them, and if they don’t line up with Scripture or tradition, then such viewpoints are most likely wrong. If the viewpoint is one that attacks Scripture or tradition, then consider the rationality and evidence of such an argument. If the argument is true, then abandon Scripture and tradition. There’s no reason to continue to lie to ourselves if we know or suspect that what we believe may be false. If argument doesn’t stand to reason or evidence, then abandon the argument.
Secondly, there’s no reason that in turning away from the Religious Right that one should keep the venom of the Religious Right. There is quite a bit to be said about being civil and not mocking others, or being childish when someone points out that you may be bitter in a response to the Religious Right. Seek to be civil in as much as you can and if you find yourself justifying mockery or strong words, be worried, because though you may have liberal beliefs, you’re still stuck in the spirit of the Religious Right.