Monitoring the rhetoric of public discourse in our country, especially among evangelicals, is a sobering exercise. One reads books and periodicals, scans Sunday school materials, watches television programs, listens to sermons, cassettes, and radio broadcasts. As a fellow believer sympathetically analyzing the tone and content of this vast output, one becomes as concerned as impressed. While the sheer volume of gospel-related communication is staggering, its quality varies from the heights of excellence to the depths of mediocrity.

But one clear impression emerges. Much—much too much—of what our nonchurch society regards as religious propaganda is troublingly demogogic. Unfounded interpretations and gross contradictions of careful exegesis are presented authoritatively as God’s very truth. Ideas, opinions, and even political views, dubiously extrapolated from Scripture, are affirmed dogmatically as divinely mandated absolutes.

Perhaps, though, the most troubling aspect of this demagoguery is the frequent repetition of stereotypes and caricatures that imply the inferiority of certain groups of people; and the implied inferiority (occasionally stated explicitly) is not, one learns, only sinful. It is diabolically sinister.

Atheistic humanists, to mention one group frequently assailed, are portrayed as the agents of satanic darkness, plotting to undermine our country and prepare the way for a Communist takeover. To be sure, some atheistic humanists are belligerent enemies of the gospel. Yet is it truthful to stigmatize all adherents of this philosophy as a conspiratorial group who endanger the future of our republic and our faith? That, nevertheless, is the impression undeniably created by some impassioned evangelicals. It seems ...

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