Evangelical Christians receive more than their fair share of demonization, accused variously of aiming for totalitarian control of government, womb, sex, marriage, the science of the universe, stem cell research, as well as seeking the elevation of Biblical law over American democratic process. However, this obscures some of their more admirable traits.
To that end, here are five qualities that should be admired in the Evangelical Christian right.
Some might argue that the loyalty practiced by those on the Evangelical Right is more akin to the loyalty Roman Emperor Caligula demanded of his subjects, which was taken to heart by the Italian La Cosa Nostra—that is, fear. This view of Evangelical loyalty, however, is wrong. Staying within the fold, honoring Jesus Christ and family, are paramount. Personal disloyalty is rather non-existent. Existence is tied up with God, such that a personal betrayal is actually a betrayal against God, and vice versa.
If Evangelical living is followed religiously, on the other hand, one can expect a sense of devotion often not found in other groups. This is to be admired.
One can’t be too sure, but it seems that outside of the grave, Evangelical Christianity has the largest assemblage of addictive personalities in the world. Recovering drug addicts who convert to Evangelical Christianity trade their devotion to substances for a devotion to God, or at least a devotion to order, duty, structure, etc. Their zeal for heroin and crack becomes religious zealotry. The love of booze becomes a love of God. Or, on the other hand, the love of drugs and sex is hidden amidst the love of God (see: Ted Haggard).
If this eagerness could be harnessed, there’s no telling what Evangelical Christians might be able to do.
One of the more charming and playful qualities of Evangelical Christians is their sense of nostalgia. It emanates in thick vapors from their bodies and their words, particularly when they opine that American morality has gone to the dogs since the heady days of the ’60s. This nostalgia is witnessed in a very real belief that “Leave It To Beaver” and “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” actually replicated real life in the 1950s.
Some might say that this nostalgia has the potential to lead us back to the Dark Ages, to the Spanish Inquisition, but this is just nonsense: Evangelicals quite clearly just love early television.
In the modern form of Christianity practiced by the various Evangelicals, the free market has been elevated alongside the godhead. Don’t tell them this, of course, because the Trinity is still sacrosanct. However, what other economic system in the history of the world can claim to have been blessed by a God? The greed for wealth, for abundance, for success, they’ve all been celebrated by such figures as Joel Osteen, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Pat Robertson and James Dobson, who even has a non-profit policy organization (rather counter-intuitive, no?), Liberty Institute, that promotes limited government (unless it conflicts with Evangelical religious doctrine) and economic freedom.
Long before Gordon Gekko stated “greed is good,” Evangelicals were already fully embracing the idea, most likely because communism was seen as state-imposed secularism—those godless heathens.
Mastery of Truth
Without a doubt the most impressive and inspiring quality of Evangelical Christians is their lone possession of truth and the proselytization thereof. As Plato once said, there are eternal moral verities, or eternal moral truths—forms that are as timeless as geometry and the vibrations of music, and as old as the universe itself. To pluck a note on a stringed instrument is to, in effect, pluck the note from the aether where it had been all along.
While some Evangelicals might not be very fond of or even well-acquainted with Plato’s ideas of universal truth (though they certainly should be), they do have their own, which we need not elucidate here for they are well known. To have knowledge of a universal truth in a relative and quantum universe is most excellent, and one should stand in awe of it.
Bonus Quality: Glossolalia, or, The ability to speak in tongues
Speaking in tongues is a lost art and talent, so maybe it’s not best described as a redeeming quality. That notwisthstanding, it is alive and well in America, especially amongst certain churches like the United Pentacostal Church and even Sarah Palin’s Wasilla Bible Church. Its more formal name is Glossolalia.
The Christian type of Glossolalia is redeeming in that it provides hours of laughter and bafflement for viewers, sort of like watching kids carrying on a non-sensical dialogue but seeming to understand each other perfectly.