Americans approve more of gays and lesbians (53 percent) than evangelical Christians (42 percent). (Tweet this) When university professors were recently asked if there were religious groups toward which they harbored negative feelings, three percent reported such feelings toward Jews, nine percent toward non-evangelical Christians, 22 percent toward Muslims, but 53 percent toward evangelicals. And they are teaching the next generation of Americans.
Evangelicals are especially hated by many when they defend biblical marriage, a stance that is branded “homophobic,” prejudiced and intolerant. Indiana is the latest of 20 states that have passed laws protecting the religious freedom of constituents; Apple CEO Tim Cook is leading the fight against such laws. For more on this issue, see Did Indiana just pass a law for bigots to discriminate? by Nick Pitts.
Angie’s List, based in Indianapolis, Indiana announced Saturday that it is pulling a proposed $40 million expansion project in the state capital. The mayors of San Francisco and Seattle have declared that they are barring city-funded travel to Indiana. We can expect the furor to continue.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is a graduate of Harvard, a Rhodes scholar, and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He is not typically an advocate for evangelical Christians. In fact, he admits that he has “little in common, politically or theologically, with evangelicals.”
But he states in a recent Times article, “I’ve been truly awed by [evangelicals] I’ve seen in so many remote places, combating illiteracy and warlords, famine and disease, humbly struggling to do the Lord’s work as they see it.” He then protests that it is “offensive to see good people derided.”
As one example, Kristof notes the work of Stephen Foster in Angola. A white-haired missionary surgeon who has lived in his chaotic and impoverished country for 37 years, Dr. Foster has survived a six-foot cobra and stand-offs with angry soldiers. He raised his family here—one of his sons contracted polio, a daughter survived cerebral malaria, and the family nearly starved when Dr. Foster insisted on sharing their rations with famished villagers. The good he does impresses Kristof with the faith he represents. Dr. Foster shines his light so brightly that others see his good works and give glory to his Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Today is Tuesday of Holy Week. On this day our Lord confronted Pharisees and Sadducees who sought to kill him (John 11:53-57). In three days he will face the rejection of the crowds who shouted their adulation just two days ago. He will be mocked, beaten, and killed.
How did our Lord respond? By loving those who hated him. By forgiving them as they executed him. By praying for them as they crucified him (Luke 23:34). And the world has never been the same.
Who needs such forgiving love from you today?