Last week we gave this column to a long and very interesting letter from a new subscriber, William Mehr of Dumfries, Virginia, writing in response to our September/October issue. Mehr's letter covered a lot of territory, and space won't permit us to take up all the issues he raises. But the gist can be found in a number of comments on evangelicals. For example, Mehr writes: "It appears that the evangelicals of today are afraid of knowledge, regardless of its source."
That's a pretty serious charge, and the reader may expect some cases in point. No instances are cited. But on to other particulars of the indictment. You may recall Christian Smith's essay, "Force of Habit," in which Smith considered the routine hostility and condescension toward religion—and Christianity in particular—in the university. Smith, Mehr writes, "employs anecdotes as evidence, much as President Reagan did when he set out to create the myth of the welfare queen." Mehr is having none of it. If it's true, as Smith charges, that "champions of diversity and equality who would like nothing more than to see religion disempowered and marginalized from public life" are talking out of both sides their mouths, well, evangelicals are doing the same thing:
Liberal Christians sense … that those described as evangelicals today are unwilling to engage in discourse, and would rather move to suppress disagreeable media than to openly dispute opposing views, and further that the evangelicals of today disingenuously claim discrimination when their efforts to suppress materials are challenged and thwarted!
And there's not much hope of reform, because the core beliefs of evangelicals compel them to act in this way:
the evangelicals of today don't appear as if they'd be satisfied ...1