The Nov. 5 guest column by Lois Smith (“Evangelicals make election cultural warfare”) contains important points that deserve further comment.
Smith complains of friends and relatives who tried to influence her in the recent election by communicating their religious opinions to her.
These allegedly narrow-minded “evangelical Christians” whom she deplores regarded the election, she says, as “a spiritual battle.”
Smith particularly objects to an e-mail she received urging her to pray for the Republican candidate for president, linking its sender to “the Taliban,” as someone who wants to turn the United States into a “theocracy.”
Such remarks reflect the liberal cliché that Christians are trying to impose their religion on fellow Americans who do not share their faith.
But isn’t it true that not too long ago, there was more tolerance of religious differences than there is now, after more than 40 years of cultural warfare in the courts against Christianity?
In the first 180 years of the republic, fewer than 10 religious lawsuits came before the U. S. Supreme Court.
Since the ACLU began its aggressive battle against public expressions of Christianity in the 1960s, we’ve averaged more than one such lawsuit per year!
Today one cannot even refer to the United States as a Christian nation – which it surely is, judged by the proportion of its population who are Christians – without protests from those Americans the ACLU has persuaded to think religious tolerance means keeping mum about religion.
What difference is there between the e-mail sent to Smith and her guest opinion? Wouldn’t it have been more tolerant of her not to have reacted to her friends and relatives by writing a column, just as it would have been more tolerant of me not to have reacted to her views the way I am doing?
But I do not claim, as she does, that every religion has equal value. I believe, for instance, it is religiously, morally and spiritually intolerable for the Taliban to kill apostates and to make it illegal under their rule to practice a religion other than Islam.
I would say Smith’s friends and relatives probably don’t object to her expressing her religious views in a newspaper. Why does she object to their expressing their views to her? What’s the difference? What’s the standard of narrow-mindedness here?
John Harmon McElroy, Ph.D., is the author of “American Beliefs: What Keeps a Big Country and a Diverse People United” and host of “America’s Fabric”" on KVOI 690.