During the election season, I made frequent references to the kinds of evangelical leaders who publicly supported McCain, people like Hagee and Parsely who believe that the US is the instrument of God against evil in the world, actively condoning bloody war. Rick Warren is supposed to be a moderate. And yet when Sean Hannity called for the US to “take out” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Warren had this to say in response:
“Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped…. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.”
God help us.
What interests me about the post above is the title. I have no interest in defending Mr. Warren’s wrong-headed exegesis, but I think this method of indictment is problematic.
You see, the point of the post, as its title indicates, was not to express (legitimate) disagreement with Rick Warren; it was to justify disparagement of a large class of individuals described as Evangelicals based on the statements of Mr. Warren. Such generalizations about Evangelicals are commonplace in U.S. newspapers and elite American society generally; it is one of the most glaring lacunae in the tolerance education Americans are fortunate enough to receive from elites on a daily basis.
My questions to Morning’s Minion are: Do you think it is legitimate to cite one unflattering example as a stand-in for millions? If so, do you think Ms. Pelosi should be cited as a pretext for dismissing leftist Catholics? Archbishop Chaput for all Catholics? Should Catholics, often the target of such unflattering treatment in the U.S. historically, be more cautious about making such generalizations themselves? Is it instructive that many of the comments following the post were of the ‘there are some that are alright, but most of them…’ variety? Could you explain what is wrong with the following: “And you wonder why I criticize Blacks/Gays/Jews/Mormons/Muslims/Illegal Immigrants so much. Would you believe what one of them just said? He said….” and why your statement is different? Is that a ‘some of my best friends are…’ defense I hear in the distance?