Feb 13 2010

FLASH! The Religious Right’s big issue isn’t really abortion after all (?!?)

Category: religion,societyharmonicminer @ 9:42 am

The Lefty academics are at it again, this time Making Up Evangelical History.

Randall Balmer is Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University. He has written several books which explore the development of political activism by people of faith, specifically conservative evangelicals.

After describing Balmer’s attempt to revise the history of the “Religious Right” to exclude concern about abortion, marriage and homosexuality, and demolishing Balmer’s claim that the “Religious Right’s” founding was really about racism and money, the author of this review, Paul Edwards at Townhall, says this:

Dr. Balmer is firmly in the camp of those who see the purpose of the Gospel as primarily about reforming the ills of society through social action. He’s part of the new “Religious Left,” a category of evangelicals he denied exists during a recent radio interview with me. While his bias is implicit in his conclusions, it’s also explicitly stated. Not until you get to the end of Balmer’s 84-page revisionism does he show his hand: “For too many years I offered an exasperated defense, arguing that the Bible I read enjoins me to act with justice and points me toward the left of the political spectrum.”“The Making of Evangelicalism” is a distortion of facts in support of biased characterizations of conservative evangelicals. In addition to the absurd notion that a defense of the sanctity of life was not the precipitating cause of the formation of the Religious Right, Balmer asserts that conservative Christians opposed women’s rights, supported torture, care more about abortion than divorce, support the destruction of the environment, and favor the affluent more than poor, without once offering a shred of objective balance from those he accuses. This sounds more like Keith Olbermann than a respected historian.

What kind of historian produces a history that presents facts in evidence supporting only half the history? Balmer has not written a history of the making of evangelicalism. The reality is Balmer is “making up” evangelicalism by reading into history a conclusion influenced by his own progressive bias against conservative evangelical political engagement. He has written history as he would like it to have been, not as it was.

Sadly, I suspect that this book will be getting some play among the Christian Left at Christian universities, who are only too happy to criticize the “fundamentalism” they fear more than skepticism, agnosticism, and the social gospel.

Trying to claim that the Religious Right isn’t deeply concerned about divorce is risible on its face, but I do have to say this: it is proper to “care more about abortion than divorce,” for a very simple reason.

No one ever died from being divorced.

7 Responses to “FLASH! The Religious Right’s big issue isn’t really abortion after all (?!?)”

  1. Melody says:

    So Randall Balmer is heard from again? I first heard this name in 2006 and wrote a blog post at my site about his book “Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts The Faith And Threatens America”. http://azusapacificalumni.com/?p=21 The claim about this man is that he is some sort of great historian of Evangelicalism. Haveing spent my life in Evangelical circles that included many prominent names – I have wondered why I had never heard his. It only seems to crop up when he writes a book slaming and sliming a group of people he hates, yet he desires to bear their name. What motivates that?

  2. Melody says:

    I have a question, since when was the Episcopalian Church considered “Evangelical”? Randall Balmer claims priesthood in that religion which was never a part of the Evangelical movement. He has zero authority upon which to speak. But then that never bothers liberals.

  3. harmonicminer says:

    You have to remember that he teaches at Columbia, which can’t be expected to know anything about the actual categories of religious affiliation. You remember Columbia… that’s the university that hosted Ahmandinejad and gave him a forum to spout his hatred, under the guise of “open” dialog and “airing all sides.”

    The people who see Balmer as an “historian of Evangelicalism” are the same ones that accept Jim Wallis as representing “evangelical clergy,” and Tony Campolo as representing “evangelical academics.”

    The sad thing is that assuming this terrible trio is actually as serious about being evangelical as being “progressive” (meaning, of course, very Left), they don’t seem to realize that they are the “token Christians” in the circles in which they like to run, acceptable to the secular Left only because they are in agreement on the matters the Left cares about the most. If Jim Wallis had a sudden attack of conscience and began campaigning for a human life amendment, his access to friendly major media would disappear over night, and he knows it.

    The same is true for Balmer, of course.

  4. Melody says:

    don’t you mean “erring all sides”?

  5. dave says:

    He has zero authority upon which to speak.

    Huh? So you must be part of a group of have “authority” to speak on the group?

    I don’t necessarily agree with Balmer here, but to claim that an academic must be part of a group in order to have “authority upon which to speak” about the group is just absurd.

    Also, where has Balmer claimed to be an Evangelical?

  6. Melody says:

    dave – click on the red link in comment #1.

  7. dave says:

    Melody – nothing in your blog post has Balmer identifying as an Evangelical. And since you quote an NPR article article without linking to it, it is difficult to get any more context.

    And I still want to know how you need to be a member of a group in order to speak with any authority on said group. You speak about groups all the time that you are not part of – do you not have any authority to speak on such matters?

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