The Christian Right’s Appalling Lack of Faith

Anne Nelson

Anne Nelson’s brilliant investigative account of the growth and influence of the Christian Right (Shadow Network) is a powerful indictment of the church in America. Nelson paints the picture of a handful of people — including my old boss Pat Robertson — who developed a group called the Council for National Policy (CNP) in 1981 with the sole purpose of turning the country to the right.

Guess what? It worked, and these people represent the shadow government that Pat told us at CBN was necessary to turn the country from sin. Let us never make the assumption that the CNP was strictly a conservative political organization; its roots run deep in the practice of a narrow form of Christianity. The constant references to “Biblical” mandates alone is sufficient evidence to reveal those roots. More secular conservatives were hesitant to alter this focus, because they were witnessing the birth and growth of a whole new slew of Republican voters.

The clever use of propaganda to create a narrative of a “lost” nation that God wanted restored to its original intent, as defined by them, of course, was the basis for political action. As I’ve written many times, it was actually pretty easy, because current events at the time were easily presented as secularism as pitched by the left. So, not only did this narrative portray themselves as righteous but their political “enemy” as Godless. What 700 Club viewer would ever argue with it?

It takes a work like Ms. Nelson’s to fully see the drift these Christians made from faith in God to faith in man. Of course, they believed that God was calling them to this, but in pronouncing God’s unhappiness with the culture, they missed any thought that would suggest a self-centered core. Besides, the Bible clearly states that God’s judgment begins with the house of God, not the culture separate from the church. It’s much more accurate, therefore, to suggest that cultural sin is the result of the church abandoning its salt and light mission and not any separate rise of sin in the culture.

What’s astonishing to me — as a guy who was there — is how far this organization drifted from trusting God in any way and instead pressing for their form of government to take care of its flock. It is perhaps the greatest heresy in the history of Christianity, and the ramifications for future generations are profound.

“Some trust in horses, some in chariots, but we will remember the name of the Lord, our God.”

When Pat told us we needed to form a “shadow government” that would take over when everything collapsed, he claimed the message was from God. We believed him and the 700 Club grew increasingly political, as Pat himself prepared to run for President in 1988. Honestly, that Ms. Nelson came up with the same kind of phrase for her book is more than coincidental, and it has helped my own personal mission to turn this mess on its ear.

Consumed by earthly power, these once well-intended believers have drifted far away and placed their very salvation in jeopardy.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Assuming the pearly gates will open for those who abandon the faith to pursue political dominance is a very dangerous thought. Moreover, in politically abandoning the poor and the afflicted in the name of suburban white well-being is sticking thumbs in the eyes of God. How dare we?

“Well, I trust God, but…”

Don’t get me wrong. These people have a right to their beliefs and to behave accordingly, but what they cannot do is alter the gospel in so doing. The “teach a man to fish” premise promoted by the right is a logical fallacy, for it assumes all the bodies of water everywhere are packed with fish and that access to the best equipment for the job is equal for all. It’s not, and that carves a giant hole at the bottom of this nonsense. When Jesus fed the 5,000, he didn’t just hand out fishing poles and bait. C’mon, people!

He simply fed them.

Everything about the white Christian Right is based in selfishness and protecting oneself from being removed from the inner ring they fear leaving. “I’ve got mine” is the shadowy unspoken position of this group. Pretending to be FOR others is overshadowed by desperation born of a fear that what they have will be taken away from them, and this is a powerful and manipulative thought that’s exploited by leaders with their own agenda.

The right question for them is “where is God in all of this?” The answer is He’s far away and watching this desperation trample over those for whom Jesus died.

Here’s a giant, public thank you to Anne for her important work. Let us all be wise as serpents as we call this what it truly is — an act of the flesh disguised as one of faith in God.

I tremble at their ultimate fate.

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