How bad is the politicization of white evangelical religion? How thoroughly has every trace of the gospel been replaced by partisan political sloganeering? It’s this bad:
After speaking to a Sunday school class about immigration, a woman asked if she could talk to me. She pulled me aside and whispered, “I think there’s a girl in my daughter’s class this year who is, umm, not legal. What should I do?”
She explained that her daughter had befriended a new girl. When they talked, the student was evasive and said she wasn’t allowed to say where she lived for fear someone would take her mother away and send her back to Mexico. The woman asked me, “What should I do? Do I need to turn her in?”
I assured the woman that she had no reason to report the girl or her mother and suggested she encourage her daughter to invite the girl over instead. “But couldn’t we get into trouble if she’s not here legally?” the woman asked.
I often hear these kinds of concerns when I speak about immigration.
That’s Dale Hanson Bourke writing at Christianity Today. What she means there when she says “I often hear these kinds of concerns when I speak about immigration” is that she often hears these kinds of concerns when she speaks about immigration to white evangelicals.
Because they’ve completely lost the map.
What does this show us? It shows us a people whose “concerns” — whose response to the actual stranger in their midst — is not primarily shaped by the gospel, by their “relationship with Jesus,” by “the authority of scripture,” the Bible, or any of the other stuff they’re always on about. Their response is not shaped by those things at all.
It is shaped by Fox News. And AM talk radio. And the National Religious Broadcasters. It’s shaped by the explicit right-wing partisanship of Charismanews and by the the implicit right-wing partisanship of Christianity Today.
It has been reduced to a shrinky-dink caricature of Christianity, one in which that phrase — “the stranger in your midst” — is not even recognized as a massive biblical motif, except perhaps maybe out of context, in reference to a fetus, because that is the primary and almost the only meaning that “Jesus” and “the Bible” have anymore, as a shorthand for criminalizing abortion.