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Thu, April 25

Column: Evangelicals really shouldn’t be surprised

Many Evangelical Christians believe other Americans no longer respect them; they sometimes think they are being persecuted.  I don’t expect this article to change evangelicals’ religious views, but I hope it will give them some food for thought.  If their only guidance in life is blind faith – ignoring reason, common sense, science, the Supreme Court – their views will increasingly be disregarded.

Many groups have been discriminated against in the past for various reasons.  Racism (discrimination based on skin color) has diminished but hasn’t been eradicated.  Bias against gays is still strong, especially by evangelicals because Leviticus says gays are an “abomination”.  Evangelicals forget that Leviticus also says eating pork or shellfish is an abomination. 

Many evangelicals consider being gay is a choice – an evil choice.  When teenagers, gays are often bullied and despised.  With all the negatives of being gay, does choosing that way of life make any sense?  The same applies to kids who are transgender.  Their wish to be treated as a boy not a girl (or vice-versa) isn’t something they arbitrarily decide one morning, and then change their mind some months later.  The furor about which bathrooms to allow them to use is a pathetic misunderstanding, dogma gone wild, a demonstration of ignorance.

I am very glad my children were not born gay or transgender, but if they were I would love them and do my best to help them.  I would also work with their schools to be sure they were understood.  In the New Testament, Jesus preaches love not hate – why do evangelicals ignore that message? What if their children were gay?  Dick Cheney’s daughter was gay – that changed his views.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that it is unconstitutional to disallow gay marriage, just as they have ruled in the past that interracial marriage is OK.  Regardless, evangelicals won’t accept gay marriage.  Christians loathe Sharia Law, the rule in some Muslim countries.  However, they want American law to support their religious beliefs – is that constitutional? 

Some evangelicals assume gays are pedophiles and transgenders are transvestites – more ignorance, with no studies to support these erroneous beliefs.  Some believe you cannot have morals and are doomed to hell unless you are evangelical – is this a loving God?

Most evangelicals deny the science of evolution because it disagrees with the creation story in Genesis, and they believe that every word in the Bible is the word of God, without error.  Has their pastor ever told them that the New Testament is based on hundreds of ancient manuscripts that are not identical?  Which manuscript is the word of God? 

Biblical scholars can read the original Bible language, and have studied Jewish history of that time.  They have discussed their findings and concluded Genesis has two intertwined versions of the story of Noah’s Ark – history explains why “two.”  Their conclusions vindicate the contradictions between various verses.  You don’t need to be a scholar to know there are two creation stories (Genesis 1 and Genesis 2) – which have different sequences of creation.  Which creation story is the word of God; which story of Noah is correct?

In addition to evolution, evangelicals deny other sciences – including genetics, archaeology, radiometric dating, astronomy.   Based on their interpretation of the Bible, many evangelicals believe the Earth was created less than 10,000 years ago – more pseudo-science!  Unfortunately, this denial of science tells people it’s OK to pick and choose which sciences to accept or reject.  This weakens American education.  To stay strong in the world, America needs STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Any blind faith is dangerous.  ISIS (and other extremist Muslim groups) commits terrorist acts based on blind faith and their interpretation of the Koran.  Evangelicals don’t compare to ISIS in vicious acts but their blind faith does affect America’s education and politics.  Their denial of science leads conservatives in Congress to deny climate change.  This denial delays political decisions to take actions to reduce the dangerous rise in sea levels, and many other negative effects.

When it comes to bias and prejudice, evangelicals have little to complain about compared to blacks, gays, and transgenders.  Evangelicals can change their views, whereas blacks, gay, and transgenders are born the way they are, and cannot change.  Tolerance is the key.

By denying the conclusions of science experts and biblical scholars, evangelicals shouldn’t be surprised when educated people don’t respect their views.  Would you respect someone who claims the world is flat, or the Earth is the center of the universe?  That’s what the Bible says! 

Nigel Reynolds has lived in Prescott for 20 years.  He is a pragmatic engineer interested in religion, politics, history – and many other things.

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