How Evangelical Dogma Supports Cruelty and Harm


I used to marvel at the cruel and vicious policies supported by the evangelical religious-right. How could Christ be the alleged foundation for such uncharitable, judgmental, discriminatory, and often militant policies? The words and teachings attributed to Christ are pretty much the opposite of their words and actions. Then I spoke to a several born again Christians about their beliefs, and it all made sense.

I want to clarify that this is not a hit piece on evangelicals. The evangelicals I have known who are on the less-judgmental, more-caring side of the movement are some of the nicest people I have known, and they work hard to be good people and do well by themselves and others. I disagree with them on many things, but I respect their integrity.

This article as about the evangelicals on the other side of the camp – the sort that show up at protests with “Jesus Hates Sinners” signs, the sort that can cheer at taking healthcare away from twenty-two million people, the sort whose answer to every idea that could make our country a better place is “why should I have to pay for that”, and the sort that can demand every fetus be born but once they child is born refuse to support childhood development programs with proven positive results.

What many people do not understand is the terrifying interpretation of being born again that some evangelicals have. The Bible basically says that all who are born again in Jesus’ name will go to heaven, and all who are not will go to hell. Many evangelicals believe that, after being born again, the “Grace of God” grows in a person, and ultimately, all a person’s actions are God’s will. They still speak to “avoiding sin”, but they think they are going to heaven no matter what they do.

I have asked one of these evangelicals, “so, you are saying if you murder someone right now, you are still going to heaven?!”, and the answer was an unhesitant “yes”, followed by an explanation that if someone had God’s Grace, their actions are God’s will – if it is something that seems bad, then it is done to serve a purpose for God. I have had similar conversations with other evangelicals from different churches and denominations.

Some of our most “righteous” and judgmental people have effectively given themselves a moral pass. Whatever they do is God’s will; so, it is all okay.

In fairness, these communities police themselves morally, to a degree. They may be going to heaven no matter what they do, but if an individual seems awful enough to the community, they still may be shunned or ostracized (which in a way shows they don’t hold to the “it is all God’s will” argument, when it offends their own sensibilities enough). The problem is that they are more likely to intervene for someone deciding that they are gay or having extramarital sex than they are making a business decision that could endanger thousands of lives, or say, creating a healthcare plan that will harm the health of millions of people and kill 25,000 people each year (as the Senate’s healthcare bill would).

Which brings me to a second issue, the evangelical groups that I am describing also tend to adopt a sort of Old Testament “Chosen People” mind set. The sort of mindset that led the Jews of the Bible to feel that it was God’s will for them to murder every man in a town that had just agreed to convert to their religion and become their allies – an us versus them mindset where people not part of your immediate faith group are fair game for abuse, exploitation, and killing. To these evangelicals, they are God’s people, and everyone else is someone to be saved and converted, controlled and punished, or left to their hellish fate. They are not often as vicious as this sounds, but it is there: they are The Chosen People, and until the rest of us are born again, we do not matter as much as they do. This callousness extends even to other Christians (those who are not born again).

I don’t think this is the biggest issue with the religious-right in the Trump era. I think that is clannishness – they have devolved to following conservative politicians because they once felt they shared values and now, they are just staying with their tribe, even though their President represents anything but decent values (Christian or otherwise). But this bizarre morality is still highly relevant. Next time you see a self-described “moral evangelical” shamelessly promoting a policy that will hurt millions of people, consider that it may not be that they are a hypocrite, it may be that their fucked-up brand of faith lets them feel that the horrible thing they are doing is God’s will.

It is important that we call these people out. They have every right to have their own morals, but when they wave the flag of moral superiority, we should take every opportunity to point out that: 1) many of the view of Christian conservatives are the exact opposite of the views espoused by Christ, who they allegedly follow, and 2) that for some evangelicals, their “morality” allows them to hurt society and hurt other people, and we should not let them claim their “values” will bring any good to anyone but themselves.

Image credit: Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delight
GW Thrush (Moderator)