Biblethumpersville, U.S.A.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Biblethumpersville, U.S.A.

An interesting article from Harper's on why Colorado Springs is becoming a magnet for evangelical conservatives:
Colorado Springs is a city of moral fabulousness. It is a city of fables.

... Pastor Ted presides over the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), whose 45,000 churches and 30 million believers make up the nation’s most powerful religious lobbying group .... and as long as Pastor Ted is its president the NAE will make its headquarters in Colorado Springs.

Some believers call the city the Wheaton of the West, in honor of Wheaton, Illinois, once the headquarters of a more genteel Christian conservatism; others call Colorado Springs the “evangelical Vatican,” a phrase that says much both about the city and about the easeful orthodoxy with which the movement now views itself.

... Evangelical activist groups (“parachurch” ministries, in the parlance) in Colorado Springs number in the hundreds, though a precise count is hard to specify. Groups migrate there and multiply. They produce missionary guides, “family resources,” school curricula, financial advice, athletic training programs, Bibles for every occasion.

The city is home to Young Life, to the Navigators, to Compassion International; to Every Home for Christ and Global Ethnic Missions (Youth Ablaze). Most prominent among the ministries is Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, whose radio programs (the most extensive in the world, religious or secular), magazines, videos, and books reach more than 200 million people worldwide.

The press tends to regard Dobson as the most powerful evangelical Christian in America, but Pastor Ted (who heads the National Association of Evangelicals) is at least his equal. Whereas Dobson plays the part of national scold, promising to destroy politicians who defy the Bible, Pastor Ted quietly guides those politicians through the ritual of acquiescence required to save face. He doesn’t strut, like Dobson; he gushes.

When Bush invited him to the Oval Office to discuss policy with seven other chieftains of the Christian right in late 2003, Pastor Ted regaled his whole congregation with the story via email. “Well, on Monday I was in the World Prayer Center”—New Life’s high-tech, twenty-four-hour-a-day prayer chapel —“and my cell phone rang.” It was a presidential aide; “the President,” says Pastor Ted, wanted him on hand for the signing of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Pastor Ted was on a plane the next morning and in the President’s office the following afternoon. “It was incredible,” wrote Pastor Ted.
So sorry I missed it.

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