In Response To...the "War on Christians"












  More Writings by Bruce Gourley 


Note: This essay first appeared in the April 2006 Baptist Studies Bulletin.

            Late last month two Baptist leaders in America stood before a few hundred fundamentalists in Washington, D.C., and declared that a “war on Christians” has been declared by American culture.  Baptist minister Rick Scarborough, head of the theocratic think-tank Vision America (, led the charge.  Standing by his side was indicted Baptist layman Tom DeLay.  Their evidence of “Christian persecution?”  Some Americans dare to say bad things about their particular brand of Christianity (see USA TODAY, 3/30/06).  Ironically, Scarborough’s Vision America says equally bad things about religious people with whom he disagrees, including other Christians.
            But since when was name-calling elevated to the level of warfare?
            If there were a real war on Christians by the establishment, it might look something like this:  beatings, whippings, jailings, charges of child abuse, having one’s children taken away, refusal to recognize marriages, stonings, bombings, shootings, being dragged from the pulpit, or perhaps even being urinated on while preaching from the pulpit.
            No, this is not a recount of crimes against Christians in some communist country, nor is it a listing of events from the U.S.-established Islamic theocracies in present-day Iraq and Afghanistan.  Rather, it is a summary of court records of 1760s and 1770s colonial Virginia, describing atrocities committed against Baptists by the theocratic “Christian” government.  That’s right; a “Christian” government making war against Christians.  Why?  Because the radical, liberal Baptists refused to obey the laws of the theocracy, and dared to call for full religious liberty for everyone and complete separation of church and state.
            There is no cultural war on Christians in America today.  Jesus did not teach his followers to complain and whine over name-calling.  But Scarborough and DeLay, in their self-righteousness, have ignored the Gospel and betrayed their Baptist heritage by insisting that fundamentalist Christians should receive special favoritism and privileges from our culture and should be allowed to control our government and legal system.
            Tragically, Scarborough and DeLay’s brand of grossly misguided theology is echoed by the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and preached from many pulpits in America today.  Even more tragically, underneath their chicken-little rhetoric lies a real war against Christianity in America.
            Scarborough and DeLay are heroes of today’s Religious Right, an organization whose real values are privilege, greed, worldly power and deceit ― the very things that the Bible teaches are opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thus there is a traitorous war against Christianity in America today, waged by the Religious Right, a group who bears the name “Christian” but lives in opposition to that which Jesus taught and embodied: humility, servanthood, love for one’s enemies, integrity, honesty, and truth. 
            No wonder many non-believers view Christianity in a negative light; too many who bear the name of Christ have prostituted him for their own purposes.  No wonder Southern Baptist fundamentalists reject Jesus as their criterion for interpreting scripture:  he is far too liberal, far too loving, far too concerned about justice for the poor and powerless, far too committed to the truth, and far too much of a peacemaker to suit their agenda.