Idol Chatter

I think the media has been propagating a dramatic myth for a long, long time and it does a disservice to our culture and our country. I wish someone would please tell them that I am not an EvangeliCatholic, although they treat me like one and may have convinced you that I am one. Let me explain.

CNN ran a story yesterday about John McCain courting the religious right through a meeting with James Dobson. It was typical of how certain evangelicals are picked as some sort of “media darlings” and usually featured as representatives of religious conservatives. Dr. Dobson is a gifted leader with a significant following, to be sure, but he’s not the EvangeliPope of the First Organized Evangelical Church of the World. Nor is Jerry Falwell, nor Pat Robertson, nor anyone else. How do I know? Because we don’t have one!

Evangelicals aren’t organized like the Catholic Church or, for that matter, the Mormon Church. While those organizations have one tax number, one person at the top, and an organizational structure for which the overseers hold authority and responsibility. This includes spokespersons for the Church.

I’ve never listened to a Jerry Falwell sermon. I’ve never watched a Pat Robertson show for more than a minute. Dr. James Dobson does not speak for me. I don’t know anyone who tunes into Joel Osteen. I think the world of Rick Warren but I also have high regard for Jim Wallis and his team, though he and Rev. Warren hold to different theologies. That’s one of the beauties of evangelicalism: We believe one can pursue God spiritually without needing an intermediary who speaks to God for us. Therefore, there also isn’t anyone who can speak to the media as the sole representative for the hundreds of denominations within the movement.

I’d like to see a new trend, one which features the true heroes of evangelicalism: the pastors, ministers, rectors, and other caregivers of local churches who work in many non-glorious ways with the members of their churches and those they’re reaching out to. It would be a truer representation of the diversity of evangelicalism, and certainly a credible expression of the large mosaic that is the current American evangelical movement.

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