They pay for huge billboards out of their own pockets which you are
forced to read as you drive down the highways of their foreign land.  
They gather by the thousands in large stadiums and sway to creepy
music, lifting their hands up in some form of strange ritual.  They
play miniature golf, watch wrestling matches, ride motorcycles, and
send their kids to camps, all with the purpose of confirming their
own beliefs as well as attempting to (
gasp) convince someone else to
join this secret society.  Are you frightened yet?  Are you trembling?  
Apparently Tom Shales, columnist for the
Washington Post, is
terrified of this shady group which despite their "facade of love" is
actually filled with "a seemingly paranoid hostility".  
("Soldiers of the
Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2007).

Though reactions to Alexandra Pelosi's documentary film created for
HBO, "Friends of God", have been mixed, Shales and others have
used the film to try yet again to paint the 50 or so million evangelical
Christians in our nation as a dangerous force, bent on controlling the
nation and turning it into a theocracy.  Yet after viewing the film,
watching the sweeping scenes of highway billboards, meeting
families who apparently like to dress their children in the style of the
homesteaders of days gone by, peeking in on mega-meetings with
thousands upon thousands of fellow believers singing together, and
listening to one-on-one interviews with nose-pierced teenagers
declaring that saving unborn children is now the mission of their
generation, I couldn't help but be left at the end of the film with a
big, "So WHAT???"  So what if some woman decides to leave law
school and instead home-school 10 of her own children?  So what if
a pastor encourages his congregation of thousands to vote for
candidates who support their beliefs?  So what if some guy wants to
drive around in his pickup truck painted with Bible verses and tell
others that if they don't pick Jesus, they're big losers.  So what if a
college student wants to spend her Saturday afternoon walking door
to door to encourage her neighbors to vote for a paticular candidate
instead of spending her Saturday nights drinking at the local bar.

This is what is supposed to terrify us?  This is what makes those in
the blue states tremble?  This is what stirs the bloggers of our nation
to rise up and debate the "dangerous" power of Evangelicals?  The
most significant event out of the film that supposedly gives
ammunition to the "dangerous hypocrites" rally cry of the Shales of
the world is the recent accusations against the film's most prominent
participant, Ted Haggard.  He boastfully declares the wonders of the
Christian sex life on the film along with two other men from his

Yet their graphic revelations, and his subsequent fall from grace, do
nothing really but prove two things.  First of all, if you are looking
hard enough, the hypocrites are easy to spot.  In other words, if your
pastor is publicly announcing how often he has sex with his wife and
detailing in graphic terms how satisfied she is after the encounters, a
little alarm should go off that perhaps your pastor is not all he claims
to be.  Second, after the accusations were brought to light, the
church immediately took action, removing him from his position and
demanding counseling and care for Haggard and his family.  
Haggard's church, New Life Church, even invited the accuser, Mike
Jones, to attend services.  He responded on Sunday and was
greeted, and even
thanked, by many of the congregation.  As
tempting as it is for some to use this shocking example of a dramatic
fall as a sweeping generalization of the masses of Bible belt
Christians, all it really proves is that humans are fallible, and one
man fell.

Even Alexandra Pelosi herself has not used the film as some kind of
rallying cry to declare the imminent danger of the faithful.  She made
the surprising comment in the
New York Times that if she had to
choose a side in the cultural war, she would take "their side"
(meaning the Evangelicals).  She said given the choice between
"Paris Hilton and Jesus, I'll take Jesus."  

Not that I'll be expecting to see Pelosi swinging a golf club at Jesus
Mini-Golf with her mother in a red state in the near future, but at
least she was realistic about the what the film says, or does not say,
about the stereotypes of Evangelicals (though one does wonder if
those 50 or so million voters would have even been treated to a
documentary of their "alien life" if they had happened to be the same
voting bloc who place her mother in office).  At least she does not
appear to be lying awake at night, shaking under the covers at the
thought of drive-through services and teenagers skateboarding for
Jesus.  Tom Shales....well, he apparently finds that breed of human
being at times "scary as hell".  Lock your doors, fellow red-state
dwellers.  We are surrounded.
Copyright 2007 Fishers of Women Ministries

Igniting the strength...
Friends of God, Enemies of the State? by Dawn G. Choate
One individual
life may be of
priceless value
to God's
purposes, and
yours may be
that life.

Fishers of Women