NEWS: Rick Warren, Evangelicals, and Dissent

Evangelical Christians have been a prominent force in American culture for many years. While evangelicals remain influential, particularly when one considers political allegiance and popular media, this particular version of Christianity has also been studied and questioned by scholars, media personalities, and authors. Frank Schaeffer, son of evangelical apologist Francis Schaeffer, takes the evangelical world to task as he considers one of its primary leaders: Rick Warren. Schaeffer argues that this version of Christianity is enslaved to an American, consumer-driven, cult of personality, which is personified by pastors like Warren. Schaeffer ends this compelling polemic by pointing out the intolerance within evangelicalism as its leaders are often demonized for refusing to conform to what is considered normative. He recalls how James Dobson of Focus on the Family demanded the dismissal of Richard Cizik. Cizik was the vice president of governmental affairs with the National Association of Evangelicals. It seems Dobson’s critique was simply that Cizik “thought global warming was real.” Cizik was fired in 2009, two days after an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross where he mentioned that “maybe he wasn’t against gay civil unions.” Schaeffer laments what he views as a lack of openness within evangelicalism, arguing: “I think that any person who remains a ‘professional Christian’ in the evangelical/fundamentalist world for a lifetime, especially any pastor, risks becoming an atheist and/or a liar.” Read the full article here.

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