<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <b>Benighted, Befuddled, Fundamentalist, and Fascist? <p> <i>An Introduction to the Book</i> <p> <p> The Resurrection of the Repressed</b> <p> This book describes a group of devout believers, a portion of America's evangelicals, whose faith leads them not to dream of theocracy but to support liberal democracy, indeed to contribute to it. They are, so to speak, part of the solution — at least for those who find citizen participation in self-rule and the classic liberal rights (freedom of speech, religion, press, etc.) preferable to their alternatives. <p> But if these evangelicals are part of the solution, what was the problem? <p> In part, it is that evangelicalism over the past forty years has been associated with prototheocratic yearnings — with using the offices of government to impose evangelical interpretations of Scripture on a pluralistic nation, on government, and on law. Paradoxical to this heavy use of the state, evangelical activism has been associated also with neoliberal economics, in which "small government" is the best government because it leaves individuals free to grab the opportunities of the open market and solve whatever problems ail the land. In short, evangelicalism has looked like a natural predator both of liberal democracy (in imposing sectarian views on the body politic) and of regulating the market for the sake of the common good (in championing neoliberal market deregulation). <p> Another part of the problem is that not only evangelicalism but religion overall has become associated with fundamentalism, fascism, and terrorism — be it the Catholic Church in Poland or Islam in the Mideast. This critique in fact reaches back through modern history, which it sees as a thriller: nefarious religion tries to kidnap the Infanta Democracy only to be foiled by the Knight of Secularization, who in turn ensures democracy and our modern way of life. In a bit more detail and less bathos, the historical critique runs like this: Liberal democracy is a system that relies on human reason. As it considers the world, it asks, "How can citizens think through problems and rationally develop the principles that are to govern?" This makes liberal democracy unlike other forms of government — dictatorships, monarchies, and so on. And this means that political forms are something that evolve. Religion, by contrast, relies on the mysteries of faith, and asks not how mankind can reason through challenges but "what does God want from us?" It does not evolve but holds fast to old beliefs and practices. Since democracy is a form that evolves while religion is not, religion must be a fossilized form of something undemocratic. Unless carefully restrained, it will break out and devour modern life in a resurrection of the repressed. Since September 11 and the rise of various religious right wings throughout the world, this polarized view of illiberal church versus liberal democracy has been reinforced. <p> On this view, the role of religion — especially devout forms like evangelicalism — should be none or very small in any society that hopes to be liberal and democratic. To base government on reason, liberal democracies would have either a strict de jure separation of church and state, yielding a secular government like that in France, Kemalist Turkey, or the United States. Or they would have a delimited cooperation between church and state where the terms of the cooperation are set by the constitution or common law, not the church. This is the case in several European countries, England, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, among them. Some quarters also hold that democratic government flourishes best in societies that are secular as well — that not only government but also civil society promotes the most democracy when it is most secular. Still others, embracing secularization theory, have claimed that religion would in any case fade as countries modernized and rationalized. The French <i>laique</i> tradition, with its emphasis on "privatizing" religion, follows along these lines. <p> The benefits of strict-separation and delimited-cooperation would be threefold: a neutral government that treats all citizens with procedural fairness (political and legal); a government that is protected from religion's doctrinal imponderables; and pluralistic freedom of conscience for all, including the rights of citizens to criticize the state. <p> Yet the idea that liberal democracy and national conduct improve with secularization has not entirely held up. As both secular and religious thinkers have noted, secular governments — those that do not base their authority in the divine — have not guaranteed liberal democracy (the Soviet Union and Maoist China are examples). Moreover, modernization has not guaranteed the secularization of society (United States, South Korea, United Arab Emirates). Renouncing the transcendent divine for man's reason has not necessarily led to more just economies or peaceful societies. Some argue that it has led instead to runaway neoliberalism with only greed as motive for our actions. Given man's tendency to validate self-interest with reason — to rationalize war, extortion, and oppression — one might ask why we assume reason is our best guide. Perhaps man's reason is precisely what should be checked by a (transcendent) ethical system that man cannot manipulate to suit himself. Finally, religion has not been an enemy to progress, change, or reason. It would be trite to note that the list of analytical and scientific thinkers who have been believers is long, among them Isaac Newton. Moreover, religion, like any human institution, changes over time and place, even as it works with enduring principles. While confessions have core tenets, these are rarely the only determinant of how faiths are practiced. Catholicism in fourteenth-century Ireland is not the same as in twenty-first-century South Korea — or twenty-first-century Ireland for that matter. Islam in an Algerian town is not practiced as it is in Auckland. <p> The idea that religion is a fixed foe of democracy reifies and deifies a human institution — ironically by those who wish to desacralize and tame it. It turns out that liberal democratic nations with just economies need not require citizens to be only rational, to have no transcendent values. (One might ask if political and economic systems are ever value-less.) Democracies also may not permit all values save religious ones. That discriminates against religion, which liberal democracies are committed to protect. Indeed, historically, religion has grounded many of the principles that liberal democrats endorse (see chapter 2). <p> Thus, the issue for liberal democracies is not how they can efface religion to create a secular society. The question is rather how religious citizens, like their nonbelieving neighbors, can support, thrive under, and contribute to liberal democracy and economic fairness. Given that there are today 600 million Buddhists, 800 million Hindus, 1.5 billion Muslims, and 2.3 billion Christians — many more believers than nonbelievers — if we cannot find ways toward that end, the prognosis for liberal democracy is bleak. <p> This returns us to our problem and solution, which we can refine. The problem is not whether devout faith is inherently incompatible with liberal democracy but rather, <i>what are the religious beliefs and political practices that advance vibrant religious life, liberal democracy, and economic fairness? Are there examples where all are robust?</i> <p> These examples might be interesting, not so beliefs and practices are mechanically reproduced — as that is impossible from faith to faith, context to context — but so political practices may be debated, possibly modified, and made useful to people as they consider the kind of society and government they want. Throughout the world, the role of religion is being rethought in light of immigration, demands for democracy and just economies, and fear of fundamentalist usurpation. This holds in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Poland, as it does in Turkey, India, and the Maghreb. The present economic crises have sharpened this discussion. On one hand, do religious beliefs lead to violence or the "Balkanization" of nations, especially under economic duress? On the other, how might they facilitate conflict resolution and what (transcendent) standards should be used to guide the open market — might religious traditions have anything to offer? In answering these questions, one thing people do is look around. Reactions to what others are doing are inevitably complex. But the alternative — not knowing what others are doing — is not better. <p> This book describes one example of beliefs and practices that have advanced religion, liberal democracy, and just economic distribution. That is, the book makes no attempt to develop a theory with predictive value for which faith traditions will be compatible with liberal democracy — an endeavor that in any case would be frustrated by human creativity in the arenas of religion and politics, and by the changes that religious practice undergoes over time. Instead, we look at one current example where faith and liberal democracy are strong. The group studied is what Richard Cizik, former vice president at the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), calls "new evangelicals" — evangelicals whose priorities have broadened from those associated with the Religious Right — a broadening toward an antimilitarist, anticonsumerist focus on poverty relief, immigration reform, and environmental protection. <p> Evangelicalism is an approach to Protestantism, applicable to many denominations. Emerging in the eighteenth century from Europe's dissenting and "enthusiast" churches and from the pietistic and Moravian movements in Germany, it sought a renewal of faith toward an inner, personal relationship with Jesus, emphasizing the mission to bring others to that relationship; the cross as a symbol of service, sacrifice, and salvation; individualist Bible reading by ordinary men and women; and the priesthood of all believers independent of ecclesiastical or state authorities. (Chapter 2 offers a brief historical overview.) <p> "New evangelicals" retain these beliefs but differ from the Religious Right in self-identification and political ends and means. Tony Campolo, former professor of sociology at Eastern University and the University of Pennsylvania, a Baptist minister, and founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, writes, "there are millions of us who espouse an evangelical theology, but who reject being classified as part of the religious right." Should "new evangelicals" at some point work less well with the liberal, democratic state, their present writings and practices will nonetheless remain as examples of how the devout may think about pluralism, economic justice, and liberal democracy. In considering "new evangelical" views, religious communities may be interested in this question: <i>How do "new evangelicals" retain their religious values while embracing constitutional law and liberal democratic government?</i> Secularists may be interested in the answer to this question: How do <i>"new evangelicals" embrace pluralism and liberal democratic government if they retain religious values?</i> Indeed, of eight types of conflicts that have arisen between religious groups and the liberal, democratic state, only two have arisen between the state and "new evangelicals." The principal reason for this relatively light level of discord is the belief that liberal democracy is the sort of government that best protects religious belief and practice for all citizens — those in dominant religions and those not. "The United States is governed by a constitution whose First Amendment guarantees free exercise of religion," David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, wrote during the controversy over the proposed Muslim center at Ground Zero. "This is one of the very best practices of our country. Millions of people have come here through the centuries because of this constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion — including many, many Christians." <p> Any inflexible demarcation between "new" and other evangelicals is of course artificial, as certain priorities and political approaches remain common to evangelicals across the political and religious spectra. Yet there have been noticeable shifts since 2005. Reflecting these, the NAE, in choosing a new vice president for governmental affairs in 2009, promoted a candidate from its relief and development division. In accepting the job, Galen Carey announced his aim to "protect children and families, promote religious freedom, peace and human rights, seek sustainable solutions to domestic and global poverty, promote a consistent ethic of life, and responsibly care for God's creation [environmental protection]." In 2010, a new organization was established specifically to bring "new evangelical" ideas to the public. Richard Cizik, along with David Gushee and Steven Martin, pastor and filmmaker, founded the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, with priorities in human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and peacemaking, including peace and respect among the world's religions. It supports economic justice, expanding access to health care, and strong families, and works against environmental degradation. It advances abortion reduction by preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting pregnant women, and improving adoption laws and procedures so that "no woman feels that abortion is her only choice." In 2011, Peter Heltzel, Bruce Benson, and Malinda Berry are inaugurating the Prophetic Christian series of books (Eerdmans) to invesitgate the prophetic and covenantal traditions of Christian theology. <p> Positions such as these may be of interest not only in themselves but also for the way they are discussed. They are expressed in the discourses of faith, with the believer's assumptions and language, referring not to Locke, Jefferson, Milton Friedman, and Marx but to Matthew, Luke, and Paul. These are not secularized or ecumenical discourses but doctrinal and sectarian ones. Neither do they fall precisely within standard Republican or Democratic parameters, nor within standard left-right dichotomies. Indeed, to date, a feature of "new evangelical" thinking appears to be policy assessment on an issue-by-issue basis — guided not by a framework external to new evangelicals (Republican, Keynesian, etc.) but by their own framework — or frameworks, as "new evangelical" views themselves span a range. To the nonbeliever, this sort of talk may sound prototheocratic. It may be frustrating — perhaps not analytical enough, not empirical, economic, or politically sufficient. And not like the public discourses of the Religious Right, the secular left, or the mainstream media, which at least are familiar. <p> But as it has been this religious discourse that has led "new evangelicals" to support pluralism, economic justice, and liberal democratic government, it might be illuminating to see how it gets there. That is, it's not how close "new evangelical" thinking comes to some other set of ideas — those of Sarah Palin, the late Ted Kennedy's, or one's own — but its suggestions for a society where faith and liberal democracy are robust. An anecdote may illustrate what I mean. During the writing of this book, a colleague asked me if "new evangelicals" agreed with a certain economist she admired. Many would, but not necessarily because of the same economic analysis that the economist had used. "New evangelicals" have their approaches to politics and economics, born of their faith and the reasoning that comes of it, and it is this religious grounding for liberal democracy and economic justice that may be productive for a world with so many believers on one hand and so many debates about good government, human rights, and economic development on the other. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>THE NEW EVANGELICALS</b> by <b>Marcia Pally</b> Copyright © 2011 by Marcia Pally. Excerpted by permission of William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.