Dishonorable Evangelical Leaders

For a long time, the prevailing assumption in evangelical circles has been that you don’t call out your own. Evangelicals are the good guys, and you don’t criticize a brother. Such reticence to hold our own self-styled leaders responsible for what they say on behalf of our movement demands reconsideration.

The reputations of evangelical Christianity, and more seriously, the Christian faith itself, are being severely damaged–one fears, irrepairably–by the frequently fatuous, grossly untrue, and downright anti-Christian statements made, and attitudes espoused, by our so-called evangelical spokespersons.

Here is another example that has just gone viral. During a very recent interview, 88-year old Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), ventured to comment on the horrific torture and murder (and most likely, dismemberment) of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi critic and Washington Post journalist, inside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Istanbul last week. The whole world is aghast at the brazen evil of the crime.

But Robertson calmly mused: “You’ve got a 100 billion dollars of arms sales . . . we’ve got to have some Arab allies . . . you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person. I mean, I’m sorry.”

And there you have it. What is most important? Arms sales. Political alliances. An evangelical minister of considerable influence weighing in on the relative value of an eternal soul. As late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel remarked with irony: Why would any Christian think that the death of one person should ever be a big deal?” Robertson exudes the kind of crass calculus we would expect of a ruthless leader, of a Caiaphas perhaps (see John 11:50), but surely not a pro-life follower of Jesus Christ.

Plain and simple, Pat Robertson does not speak for thoughtful, sincere evangelicals. He and those who parrot him have drifted from the tradition. He speaks only for himself and his fan base. It is unfortunate that the media, instinctively drawn to the loudest voices, do not always understand how little Robertson speaks for the rest of us. Or, for that matter, for real Christianity.

I am not calling Pat Robertson out with any malice. But if as evangelicals we are unwilling to censor ourselves, who will?

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