From the Same Mindset That Brought You The New York Times' "Conservative Beat"

Wonkette operative J.C. forwards a press release being sent around by 60 Minutes that touts their upcoming interview with an evangelical. Apparently, evangelicals believe in something called "the Rapture" and have a lot of faith in "Jesus Christ." According to the release, evangelicals are "major factor in American politics and culture" and "have several prominent American leaders among their ranks." Now, this is ridiculous. Everyone knows that evangelicals are just a crazy made-up story invented to scare the children of Upper West Siders when they've been naughty. Why, they're no more real than NASCAR or Wal-Mart!

Next week on 60 minutes. . . Kansas: More than just the name of some shitty band?

David Kirkpatrick Hangs to the Right [Wonkette]

Read the press release. . .

From: Murphy, Jeremy

Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2004 11:02 AM



Evangelicals -- Christians who place a personal relationship with Jesus Christ above all else -- have become a major factor in American politics and culture, says a prominent Christian theologian.  They now number an estimated 70 million, have several prominent American leaders among their ranks, including President Bush, and their beliefs are echoed in an emerging conservative movement.  Morley Safer reports on evangelicals on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 8 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

"Evangelicals ...have waited in the wilderness and now, in the fullness of time, they have come into possession of what they felt was once rightfully theirs," says the Rev. Peter Gomes, a Baptist theologian at Harvard University.  "And so, with [George Bush in] the White House, Tom the House of Representatives, the attorney general, talk radio, the conservative Fox News...these are parts of the righteous army that has finally come into its own," says Gomes.

That army has fought recently to keep a statue of the Ten Commandments in an Alabama courtroom and is fighting to keep the name of God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Evangelicals have a lobbyist, too, the former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer. 

Bauer says many of President Bush's positions are the same as evangelicals'. "With the president, what he says he believes as a matter of faith also seems to be reflected in many of the policies," he tells Safer.  The president supports the work of religious institutions, is against gay marriage and is anti-abortion -- all part of the agenda of conservative Christians, particularly evangelicals.  These Christians are a powerful force in the Republican Party and were a big factor in the Bush victory in 2000. Says Bauer, "I am not accusing my Democratic friends of being ungodly. I'm just saying, statistically, people that attend church frequently, at least once a week or more -- two thirds of them vote Republican. Those voters that say they seldom if ever attend religious services, two thirds of them vote Democratic."

Central to evangelicals' faith is an event that can happen at any time called the Rapture, when God takes all true-believing Christians and children under 12 to a better place while all others suffer the tribulation and are damned.   A series of novels whose plots revolve around the Rapture now number 40 million in print. Spin-offs from these "Left Behind" novels number 17 million and there are comic books, movies and audio books, as well.  "I don't think the media has really caught on," says the Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the "Left Behind" novels. "An enormous number of people have come to faith in Christ and consider themselves evangelical Christians...people that are buying, reading and distributing our books," says LaHaye.

Some find the Rapture a problematic idea in today's diverse society, a controversy the other "Left Behind" author, Jerry Jenkins, understands. "I realize that our message is inherently offensive and divisive, especially in this new age of tolerance," says Jenkins.  "But I am telling you this because I really do believe it."

Gomes, however, believes the Lord may have a different idea. "I am willing to take my chances, not with the evangelicals, but with the Lord. I am going to place my hands in his."


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