Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fear, Atheism, and Politics Play Role in Evangelical Manifesto

The recent Evangelical Manifesto is all about politics and fear. Despite claiming to depoliticize the religion the document actually plays on Christianity’s fear of atheism in the US in order to manipulate American politics. The Manifesto, written by Os Guinness, portrays two opposing possibilities for religious discourse in American society, the “naked public square” and the “civil public square.” Guinness presents the two possible choices for the future of America, one being the right path, the other disastrous for America. He warns of dangers of the “naked” public square, which according to the Evangelical Manifesto, is completely devoid of religion or spirituality in public life. In contrast the document promotes a so-called “civil” public square, which would allow for expression of religion and spirituality in the public domain.

Guinness then distinguishes the difference between an “atheist” and a “secularist” in order to politicize the two terms. The document claims that a “secularist” can become an “atheist” by denying access to the spiritual world. “We ourselves [evangelicals] are often atheists unawares, secularists in practice who live in a world without windows to the supernatural,” claimed the Manifesto. The “secularists” are depicted as open to a discussion of religion and spirituality in the public forum. He allows the “secularist” to become a part of the “civil public square,” but claims that Evangelicals need to be aware of “the striking intolerance evident among the new atheists,” therefore alienating “atheists” from the “civil” public square.

Guinness uses fear to paint a horrific picture of America in the hands of the atheists by comparing atheism in America to Europe’s exclusion of religion from public life. The Manifesto warns American Evangelicals that “If this hardens into something like the European animosity toward religion in public life, the result would be disastrous for the American republic…” In the summary of the Manifesto, which accompanied the main document, the writer called atheists “coercive secularists.” The difference between “secularists” and “atheists” is a coercive and evil nature, according to the Evangelical Manifesto. The document spends a significant amount of time creating fear of an atheist or coercive secularist state. Guinness depicts “secularists” as participating members of the “civil public square” while “atheists” as intolerant to the Evangelical movement, as well as other religions.

However, Christianity has experienced little intolerance in the US in comparison to other parts of the world, such as the Middle East. Unofficially, however, the US government is already endorsing the Christian religion over any other religion. There have been highly publicized accounts of Christian military personnel bullying and even threatening those non-Christian military men and women. Even President Bush had been criticized for describing the current Iraq War as a “crusade.” Many claimed it was a reference to the original 11th century Christian Crusades against Muslims in the Middle East. In the past five years if any religion has been receiving the most intolerance in the US it would be Islam.

So, what does Guinness mean by “intolerance?” Perhaps the writer is referring to the ban on public prayer or displaying religious symbols on government property. Guinness maybe inferring that those who believe in upholding separation of church and state, which has traditionally been championed by the political left, are part of the “intolerant” atheists. During an interview with Alex Chediak ( Guinness was asked if Christian voters should consider a pro-choice candidate if the candidate aligns with other Christian values. “Emphatically not, and the Manifesto is blunt about the undiminished fight for life and marriage,” replied Guinness siding with most on the political right, which has traditionally been supported by Evangelical and born-again Christians.

The Evangelical Manifesto is a subversive attack on the separation of church and state, without which, the government would be allowed to officially endorse one religion over another. It would only be a matter of time before Roe v. Wade will be reversed and gay marriage is banned based on government-endorsed Christian values. Although the Manifesto claims to want to end “cultural-warring” between the left and right, it is covertly continuing Evangelism’s manipulation of US politics.

1 comment:

Samuel Skinner said...

Why is it all these ideas are based on bringing peace... by completely obliterating the other side?

It is worse than all the "utopian" economic systems are either extreme state or extreme capitalism. At least those people are more honest.