'Evangelical Christianity Has Been Hijacked': An Interview with Tony Campolo
Speaking out on gays, women and more, a progressive evangelical says 'We ought to get out of the judging business.'spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton. A self-described Bible-believing Christian, he has drawn fire from his fellow evangelicals for his stance on contemporary issues like homosexuality. He talked with Beliefnet recently about his new book, Speaking My Mind.
Editor's note, December 2004: In response to reader interest, Beliefnet is making available additional material from the July 2004 interview with Campolo.
It's a common perception that evangelical Christians are conservative on issues like gay marriage, Islam, and women's roles. Is this the case?
Well, there's a difference between evangelical and being a part of the Religious Right. A significant proportion of the evangelical community is part of the Religious Right. My purpose in writing the book was to communicate loud and clear that I felt that evangelical Christianity had been hijacked.
When did it become anti-feminist? When did evangelical Christianity become anti-gay? When did it become supportive of capital punishment? Pro-war? When did it become so negative towards other religious groups?
There are a group of evangelicals who would say, "Wait a minute. We're evangelicals but we want to respect Islam. We don't want to call its prophet evil. We don't want to call the religion evil. We believe that we have got to learn to live in the same world with our Islamic brothers and sisters and we want to be friends. We do not want to be in some kind of a holy war."
We also raise some very serious questions about the support of policies that have been detrimental to the poor. When I read the voter guide of a group like the Christian Coalition, I find that they are allied with the National Rifle Association and are very anxious to protect the rights of people to buy even assault weapons. But they don't seem to be very supportive of concerns for the poor, concerns for trade relations, for canceling Third World debts.