I don’t know about you but as a faithful Catholic layperson, I do not want to be associated with evangelical Christians. When I think of evangelical Christians, I think of people who are members of Protestant religions such as Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians who are extremely vocal about professing their faith.
I have many friends who are Protestants; in fact, I have been to two Episcopal services in the last six months, and I only saw were well-mannered adults and children. I have never encountered someone who is Protestant who can be described as an evangelical Christian. So, who is an evangelical Christian?
Danielle Kurtzleben writes in a December 19, 2015 article for National Public Radio (NPR):
According to the Pew Research Center, around 35 percent of American adults (that is, roughly half of all Christians) consider themselves evangelical or born again. So when reporters and politicians talk about “evangelicals,” it can sound like they’re talking about a huge chunk of the population — more than a third.
But then, other national political pollsters, like CNN/ORC, add a modifier onto most of their evangelical polling, focusing on white evangelicals. (And this is the group most pundits are talking about, particularly when it comes to Republican primary politics.
Greg Smith, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center told Kurtzlebun:
White evangelical protestants are some of the most reliably conservative and Republican voters in the electorate, African-American protestants, on the other hand, are some of the most strongly and consistently Democratic voters in the electorate.
In a May 4, 2018 report for ABC7 News Denver, reporters Phil Pruitt and Chance Seales identified four core beliefs of evangelicals as described by the National Association of Evangelicals:
- Conversion: Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice able to wipe away sin. This is the “born again” experience.
- Biblical supremacy: The Bible is the highest moral authority.
- Evangelizing: Taking the gospel to the ends of the Earth, converting sinners.
- And then, exclusivity: Only those who’ve been “saved” through Jesus are granted eternal salvation
As a member of the Catholic faith, I take issue with each of the above four core beliefs.
First, no one needs to experience a “born again” experience to gain eternal salvation.
Second, the Bible is not the highest moral authority. The Bible gives many examples of good and bad moral behavior. A key element to exhibiting good moral responsibility is forming a good conscience. “Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.1796) In addition to forming one’s conscience, there is the responsibility of understanding and living a virtuous life. For Catholics, there are four Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance and three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Third, regarding the issue of converting sinners, I am in agreement with evangelicals, however, I prefer a softer approach. For example, Father Ed Broom, OMV writes in his article on March 28, 2017, for Catholic Exchange, “One of the greatest desires of Almighty God is the conversion of sinners. That poor sinners will leave their sinful lifestyles and turn back to the love of God is high on the list of God’s desires.”
Lastly, I am troubled by this evangelical notion that “Only those who’ve been “saved” through Jesus are granted eternal salvation.” This indeed is not the case for Catholics. Even Pope Francis spoke out on this topic saying that the Catholic Church wants all men and women to be saved.
Bottom line: Catholics are not evangelical Christians. Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should be voicing concerns at least to news agencies that the term “Evangelicals Christians” should be changed to “Evangelical Protestants.”
Why does the topic of evangelical Christians irritate me? Because many of Trump supporters are white evangelical Christians. For the life of me, I cannot believe how it is possible that evangelical Christians, who I assume believe that God creates all of humanity in his image and likeness, can support Trump who spews hatred about other people? Do evangelical Christians think about what the sons of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford must be thinking each time Trump mocks their mother? Megan Garber writes in an October 3, 2018 article for the Atlantic magazine, that Dr. Ford was “treated by the president, and by so many other people in power in America—treated as an inconvenience.”
Nicole Wallace, a lifetime Republican is totally embarrassed by the words Trump has used to describe women; words such as Miss Housekeeper, slob, pig, degenerate, Miss Piggy, wacky, low I.Q., not my first choice, Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? When Trump humiliates women, he is humiliating God. When Trump bullies anyone, he is bullying God. Do evangelical Christians believe otherwise?
Tim Morris, a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, says, “Trump pledged during his campaign to defend religious liberty, stand up for the rights of the unborn and appoint conservative jurists to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts. And he has done exactly that.”
Is Trump’s pledge to defend religious liberty applicable to Muslims and Hindus? Is Trump standing up for the child in school who cannot sit still because they inherited an addiction from their mother who was a crack addict?
As for nominating conservative judges to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was not so much about selecting a conservative Republican as it was about choosing a minion who will ultimately bail Trump out from all of his legal problems that will eventually surface.
Each time I am watching a television report mentioning evangelical Christians, I cringe with disgust because of their behavior. As a practicing Catholic, all I can do is continuously remind myself of what Jesus told his followers: “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Mt 20:16)