The virtue of selfishness: Looking into the heart of the American Evangelical Christian.

Having been born and raised a devote Catholic, I look today at the Christianity observed by many of my fellow countrymen and see nothing that resembles the Christianity I thought I once knew. Concerns about social justice that I had growing up as a Christian seem that have been replaced with a worship of open market capitalism and a love affair with Social Darwinism (though they would never call it that). Polls show that those least concerned with the state of the environment are those who identify themselves as evangelical Christians; members of traditional black churches and Mormons. According to Pew, all other faith groups (including those without faith) are significantly more concerned about the effects of human activity on our environment than those three groups. Evangelicals also stand out in other areas as well, health care for instance. In March of ’09 another Pew survey demonstrated what we all expected: White Evangelical Christians are far more likely than any other group to oppose a government guarantee of health care; Catholics and other mainline Protestant groups were also were also higher than the national average (but not as much).

Why is it that when it comes to the important issues, when the question is asked what should be done, the evangelicals are so consistently on the side of doing nothing (excpet when it comes to taking military action)? There are probably several answers to this question, but a suspect that at its core it has something to do with the fact that doing something would require some degree of sacrifice on their part. If the environment and health care could be fixed with a prayer and good wishes then I suspect that evangelicals would be the leaders of the particular movements, but of course it’s not that simple. Fixing these problems will require the expenditure of effort and resources that will likely not help them directly. Quite simply, most evangelicals already have health care insurance and see little to no advantage to themselves in assisting others who do not; and when it comes to the environment it’s even worse. Most evangelicals that I know are too fond of their SUVs, Ford Broncos and Chevy trucks and giving them up would constitute a sacrifice that they quite simply could not tolerate. It’s easier to just pretend that there isn’t a problems than it is to acknowledge that there is and then admit that you just don't care. Even on the occasions when they do something something beneficial to someone other than themselves, it's is done with the belief that they be repaid by Jesus in the afterlife.

Ultimately I place the blame squarely upon the shoulders of America’s religious right for the fact the USA has done virtually nothing to avoid the likely effects of global warming or to improve our inadequate health care system. Certainly when you look at European nations without a strong evangelical movement (let's include Canada) you'll find essentially a 100% willingness to address these issues. To my personal experience, these evangelicals are individuals characterized by indifference, greed and contempt for others. Obviously, I haven’t much positive to say about these people and while I hope that their days as a continuing political force in this nation are numbered I also know that we’ve been hoping this for a rather long time now. IMO this is why we must continue our struggle to prevent them from turning this nation (this world) into the one they pray for. This is why I fight for an America that rejects irrational thought and embraces truth and science. RAMEN!

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Comment by Marshall on October 11, 2009 at 5:25pm
Dave, Sorry about raising the blood presure. The saddest thing is that the evangelicals will die thinking the were right and will never have the chance to realize just how truly wrong they were.
Comment by Marshall on October 11, 2009 at 5:21pm
DUane, I agree with your comments regarding the effects of the evangelical apocalyptic vision. Why try to fix anything when the best thing that will ever happen is the destruction of the universe?
Comment by Maurice van Steensel on October 11, 2009 at 3:57am
Very much so. Relgion, after all, is solipsism in the extreme.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on October 11, 2009 at 3:43am
The whole concept of "being saved" is selfish. Evangelism also has its roots in selfishness: persuading someone to think like you do is the ultimate boost to the self-image. It is far easier to preach to someone than to provide for their physical and monetary needs.



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