FrontPageMag | Mark D. Tooley | Jun. 9, 2008
Left-wing evangelist Tony Campolo, one of Bill Clinton’s post-Monica counselors, has declared that America’s ostensibly aggressive war policies against Muslims are inhibiting the spread of the Gospel. And he rather uncharitably lambasted American evangelicals who do not share his leftist perspective as “jingoistic” and motivated by oil “lust.”
“U.S. Foreign Policy versus the Great Commission” is the provocative headline of Campolo’s polemic on Jim Wallis’ Sojourners blog. It espouses a new but constant theme for the Evangelical Left: an assertive U.S. foreign policy inhibits evangelism in other cultures because America supposedly represents crusading Christianity to supposedly victimized Muslim peoples.
According to Campolo, America is provoking “religious wars” around the world that have especially soiled the image of Christians among presumably otherwise friendly Muslims. Describing himself as a “Red Letter Christian,” the title of his recent book, Campolo and other cohorts on the Religious Left claim they are guided exclusively by the often red lettered words of Jesus found in many Bibles.
“It doesn’t take much for Red Letter Christians to recognize that the hostilities between Muslims and Christians have increased greatly as of late because of certain geopolitical events—particularly as we consider what has been happening in the Holy Land and the consequences of a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq,” Campolo calmly explained to the Sojourners audience. “It is not surprising that the Islamic world is growing more hostile toward the gospel than ever before. Around the world, Muslims are viewing the American army in Iraq as a Christian army reviving the likes of the medieval Crusades, which were marked by a massive slaughter of Muslims and the occupation of holy Islamic lands by so-called “Christian” conquerors.”
As Campolo’s recollected, the Cold War was sustained by conflicts between Marxist revolution and CIA-instigated coups. With a similar moral detachment, perhaps the evangelist would also describe World War II as a feud between German and British imperialism. Campolo explained that “political-economic ideologies” characterized the American-Soviet competition, but “religious war” fuels the current strife. Citing Samuel Huntington, who probably would not recognize Campolo’s interpretation of his views about the “clash of civilizations,” the evangelist listed current “hot spots” such as the Kashmir, Sudan, and the Phlippines. In each place, “religious militants” are clamoring for power through violence in the name of “their gods.” Campolo declined to mention that these conflicts, like so many others, are spearheaded by radical Islamists. Such an admission might undermine his preferred theme, that the U.S. has unnecessarily provoked Muslims into their reasonable antipathy towards America.
The Evangelical Left is desperately trying to win American evangelicals away from their conservative voting habits by arguing that conservative domestic and foreign policies in the U.S. somehow undermine Christian evangelism. Oddly and inaccurately, Campolo described the “10/40 window,” an evangelical term for the region of people “unreached” by the Gospel from the Atlantic to the Pacific, between 10 and 40 degrees above the Equator. Campolo reinvented this term to refer to 40 degrees BELOW the Equator and claimed the peoples in this window are “overwhelmingly Muslim.” Actually, by either definition, this window is mostly non-Muslim, including most of the 2 billion people of India and China, plus the millions in traditionally Buddhist Southeast Asia. But again, the evangelist is inextricably focused on his theme of American oppression of Muslims.
“The American toleration of the oppression of Arab peoples in Palestine, which our government could work to stop, has exacerbated a jihad that will settle for nothing less than having the Jewish people pushed off the land and into the sea, and an unbridled hatred of Christian Zionists,” Campolo explained. “The ramifications of our nation’s ‘big-stick’ foreign policies in the Middle East have been severe for missionary work.” The evangelist described the torment of and imploding population of Christians in Iraq. He also cited the implosion of Christian missionary efforts in Pakistan. Why are Christians, both indigenous and missionary, suffering in these mostly Muslim lands? Campolo fingered only America, without any reference to the actual tormentors, who are Islamists.
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