THE DEARTH OF CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP
INAMERICA TODAY; HAS "PROGRESS" AND
‘"DIVERSITY" TAKEN US TOO FAR FROM
OUR FOUNDING PRINCIPLES?
By "Christian" leadership, we mean essentially "Evangelical"
leadership . . . and there is immediately a need for a
clarification of terms. There is a distinct difference between
individuals who are Evangelical in their beliefs, and who
hold positions of leadership in one field or another, and
individuals who hold positions of leadership in the
Two nationally known evaluations of leadership come
immediately to mind. First, there is he much cited ranking
of the 100 most influential Conservatives in America, and
the 100 most influential Liberals in America as compiled
by the Washington staff of the London Telegraph. It is
interesting that in the list of 100 influential Conservatives
there were only 4 who were in positions of leadership in a
Christian cause. There were 3 who were considered to be
Evangelicals, but who were in positions of leadership in a
secular field. Incidentally, there is no Christian oriented
leader in the listing of 100 influential Liberals, but that is
not particularly surprising.
Second, there is the featured cover story in the November
19 issue of U.S. News and World Report, where the 18 Best
Leaders in America were listed. The project was a joint
undertaking between U.S. News and the John F. Kennedy
School of Government at Harvard University. A committee
of 35 first selected a group of more than 200 leaders, and
narrowed it down to the final 18. The first name listed was
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; the second was Speaker
of the House Nancy Pelosi. Rounding out the list of 18 was
cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Significantly, there was not one individual
who was cited for any Christian or Evangelical persuasion,
or indeed anyone for any religious achievement whatsoever.
This past week two questions were posed; the first,
Name the best Evangelical TV preacher. Not difficult --
there are enough good ones to provide a favorite for almost
any taste. But the second question was more difficult: Name
the most effective Evangelical preacher in America. Here
almost anyone draws a blank. We have to face this fact: with
the passing of Jim Kennedy and Jerry Falwell, the Evangelical
cause lost its most effective Evangelical spokespersons, and in
a sense today that cause is leaderless.
And this is not a good time for Evangelicals to be without a
strong voice. In the pages of this newsletter, we have frequently
cited some of the forces opposing the proclamation of the gospel
message or indeed, any expression of the Christian faith. Those
forces would be essentially in the Liberal camp, advocating the
killing of unwanted children (abortion) . . . the abandonment of
the religious concept of marriage (same-sex unions) . . . the
eradication of any and all Christian observances, including the
mention of God or the practice of prayer in our public schools,
or even the use of "Merry Christmas" as a seasonal greeting. But
we are all familiar with those efforts, headed often by the ACLU
in its many lawsuits against small communities and boards of
education easily dominated by skilled legal antagonists.
But now emerging from those overall Liberal opponents is a new
movement labeled simply as the "New Atheists."
Writing under the masthead of "The Church of the Non-Believers,"
defined as "A band of intellectual brothers mounting a crusade
against God," Gary Wolf writes, "We are called upon, we lax
agnostics, we non-committed nonbelievers, we vague deists who
would be embarrassed to defend antique absurdities like the
Virgin Birth ... or any other blatant myth, we are called out, we
fence-sitters and told to help exorcise this debilitating curse: the
curse of faith."
Mr. Wolf defines the "New Atheists" in these terms, "They
condemn not just belief in God, but respect for belief in God.
Religion is not only wrong: it is evil."
How many people are we talking about? In 2004 a
Barna poll reported that atheists and agnostics numbered
12% of the American population. In 2005 a Harris Interactive
poll put the number of atheists at 8%. Various polls put
the number of Americans who believe in the existence of
God or a Supreme Being at 91 or 92%. Other polls put
the number of American Christians at 85%.
Richard Dawkins, an Oxford University professor, whose
latest book titled "The God Delusion" continues to hold a
place in just about every best seller list, is probably the
leading figure in the "New Atheists" movement. And his
evaluation? "I guess we’re in the same position the gay
movement was in a few decades ago," and offers this view
of his fellow atheists today, "They are more numerous
than anyone realizes."
Like the homosexual movement, which is so contrary
to traditional American moral values and principles, but
which is making an impact on American society which
cannot be ignored, so the "New Atheists" whose beliefs
are also contrary to traditional American moral values
and principles, and their impact on our way of life may
soon be felt. This is no time for American Evangelicals
to be lacking adequate leadership.
A word from 1776: "It is the duty of all men in society,
publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME
BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the Universe.
And no subject shall be hurt, molested or restrained, in
his person, liberty, or estate for worshiping GOD in the
manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own
conscience ..." – John Adams, 1776
In case you are contemplating an overseas trip,
it may be of interest to you to learn that London is rated
the second most expensive city in the world, with Oslo
holding the No. 1 position. The computations included
shopping, transportation and entertainment. It might be
cheaper to stay here and visit the wonders of America.
And speaking of England, the figures have just been
released, and in 2006 more women than men were
ordained as priests in the Church of England by a 244 to
234 margin. One comment was offered that without the
women priests the nation’s pulpits would be "depopulated."
Mean time, the Church of England has moved one step
closer to ordaining women as bishops, with bishops by a
margin of 367-127 voting to ask the Synod to consider the
process for removing the legal barriers to such ordinations.
No comment, aside from suggesting that the British bishops
take a close look at the situation prevailing in the American
Episcopal Church. Perhaps they could learn something
from the "colonies."
The 2008 Olympic games in China; this may be the
traditional "tempest in a tea pot." The first story was that
the Chinese authorities had banned any Bibles being carried
by any visitors to the Olympic Games in August. An expected
uproar occurred, and the next word was an absolute denial of
any such restriction by the Chinese authorities. Now the
Deputy Director of the Beijing Organizing Committee has
explained that athletes and other individuals can bring their
own Bibles, but no one can bring multiple copies for public
distribution. That spokesperson also said that the people at
the customs and border check stations in China are "very much
professional," and "know how to handle the situation." That is
where the matter stands at this moment.
This is not a comment on presidential candidates, but
rather an indication of how different people say the same thing
in different ways. Think back to John Kerry’s claim to "flip-flop"
fame when he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion
before I voted against it." Now there comes the issue of giving
driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, a proposal by NY Governor Eliot
Spitzer. Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton first said that the
plan "makes a lot of sense," but soon thereafter said, "I did not
say that it should be done." Then after it was disclosed that 70%
of New Yorkers opposed the plan, Governor Spitzer withdrew it
from consideration, and Hillary Clinton followed suit with this
proclamation, "As President I will not support driver’s licenses
for undocumented people." For the moment, we assume that
can be taken as definite in current day language.
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