As some of you know, I do call myself a Christian. I believe in God. I do pray. I do know the Bible and have read a lot of it throughout my life. But I don’t go to church, and don’t identify with any denominations.
I also am not perfect. I've had sex outside of marriage, but don’t make excuses for it or try to say “God is still working on me.” I do admit that is my personal vice. I use cuss words, tell dirty jokes, and I like to go out to bars and have a drink or two every now and then. These things would be considered my “ungodly” side.
I also don’t agree with homosexuality but I don’t sneer at gays and lesbians, nor am I interested in railing against them publicly. I also have no problem with gun rights but still think guns should be regulated in a country with high gun violence rates. I also don’t have any issues with Muslims or think they should be destroyed. I don’t agree with Islam, but it does not affect me. I’ve had Muslim co-workers throughout the years who are often smarter than a lot of Americans and tell me very interesting things about their home countries, and I tend to get along with them very well.
Am I your average Christian? Not by a long shot.
First hand experience
Our family has always been Christian and we were brought up Christian. As kids we often were exposed to more of the evangelist influences. We grew up listening to modern Christian music radio, went to an evangelist church, and were homeschooled according to evangelist writers and stay-at-home moms’ advice and instructions for other moms. But as we came into young adulthood, we began to care less and less for much of that stuff, and found the real world to be more interesting. We just felt like it was time to start finding out what was going on on the other side of the white washed fence.
I developed a heavy affection for rock music, especially Linkin Park, U2, Stone Temple Pilots, and Led Zeppelin. I masturbated like 98% of young people, which goes against evangelist doctrines, and what I felt guilty about through my youth yet never stopping. I watched movies and TV shows that would also be considered “unedifying.” And like most young people who are brought up Christian, I went through all the ups and downs, waves, crashes, and doubts about faith. But unlike many who fall away from faith, ultimately I decided to stand with God once I became independent and had to face the hard realities of life and the world, finding that although the world had a lot of interesting things, at the same time it does not offer you a solid fulfillment or sanctuary, and can decide to go against you any time it wants to. In the end God was still the best choice, in everything, the good, the bad, crazy, sad, hard, confusing, and wonderful things of life.
Evangelism is a political cult
Having said all that and having had exposure to the movement like many other people, I can say that the evangelist denomination is basically a kind of a cult. And I am disgusted with it much more than I am with the false, judgmental black gospel churches (I am black, yes) that we also went to at times growing up.
I can say that I despise the evangelist churches, with their notorious nationalism and conservative leanings bleeding through them, which may be the most despicable thing about them. Politics - even mine as a Democrat - should not be tied to religion, and God does not care about our exceedingly flawed political methods nor does he support any world government, although conservatives would like to believe that God puts men on thrones to support their biased religious views. Evangelicals, having ungodly obsessions with abortion and homosexuality, want to support unrighteous Republican leaders simply because these old guys hate the same things and people that evangelists hate in the name of God.
And of course, evangelicals make me cringe with their heavy patriotism and perpetually false, foolish belief that America was and is a nation “blessed by God.” To conservative Christians, if a group of old white guys 400 years ago talked about God while keeping and abusing slaves; raping, killing, and driving out natives; winning major wars; developing a strong economy on the backs of blacks, immigrants, and the poor; and continuing to ignorantly believe that Columbus discovered America, then they call it “a great nation” with a divine manifest destiny.
Ultimately, Christians have no business being Republican. It simply should not be. Of course, they would feel the same way in reverse, that Christians shouldn’t be Democrats, or “liberals,” as they love to say. No doubt, the Democratic party has some values that even I don’t support or agree with, but at the end of the day the difference is that in general Democrats are more compassionate and want to see the positive progress and well-being of all individuals and of a nation, even if you may not agree with all their methods. The values of conservative “Christians,” on the other hand, are often cold, racist, full of hate, obsessed with gun rights, abortion, homosexuality, and disregarding the poor.
Instead of disagreeing with a person’s sin or lifestyle, conservative Christians show hate or disdain for the person entirely. Instead of loving thy neighbor, conservative Christians want to be prejudiced towards Hispanic immigrants and support or make excuses for racist violence done against blacks by police. And instead of showing compassion to the poor, conservative Christians want to use endless arguments about why their tax dollars should have to go to these people; preaching about how “A man who will not work, will not eat,” wanting to kick people off of food stamps; and people needing to pull themselves up by their boot straps. All the while supporting wealthy men who either did a lot of dirt to get where they are, or had it handed to them growing up, never "working hard" for their success.
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” - Proverbs 14:31
And no person calling themselves a Christian should have any business supporting a man like Donald Trump, who has uttered all manner of ungodly things, nasty things towards Hispanics, disabled people, veterans, women, blacks, and has told all kinds of lies and done all kinds of dishonest things even before he was president. God does not approve of so-called believers who want to support an extremely sinful man just to get at people and policies they hate.
Obsessions with “sexual sin”
Another God-awful problem with evangelicals/conservative Christians is their appalling, obsessive focus on “sexual immorality,” “sexual sin,” homosexuality, and their excessive preaching to young Christians about sexual purity. To be fair, I do agree that as Christians we should try to be sexually decent - I myself admit that I’ve had sex outside of marriage, have watched porn in the past, etc. I’m not proud of it and I don’t justify it, but I have done it. I can say that sexual impropriety has really been the only major vice I’ve had in my life, and even that has not been to nearly the extent of other humans' sexual behavior on this planet.
However, evangelicals put enormous emphasis on sexual sin and sexual purity in a very cult-like fashion. Joshua Harris, who wrote the best-selling Christian book I Kissed Dating Good-bye back in the 1990s, was one of the biggest leaders at that time in the revolution against “sexual sin” with young believers, to the point of even advising in his sequel book Boy Meets Girl that young men and women should only hug from the side because hugging chest to chest would incite lust and sexual temptation.
And guess what? Harris himself has now disavowed those books he wrote, realizing how wrong they are, and how they’ve discouraged young Christians. I remember reading I Kissed Dating Good-bye back in the mid-2000s and even I thought that book was garbage! Needless to say that Joshua Harris also ‘gave up’ Christianity last year and said he has "undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus." Sorry, bro. But just because you feel like faith has let you down, or you're disappointed in yourself for how your teachings have made people feel, doesn't mean that Jesus and the Bible are wrong.
The Every Man’s Battle book series bologna was also another really sorry waste of time, paper, thought, and ink in the early 2000s. Complete with “battle plans,” an actual 'workbook' edition, and daily regimens for Christian men and boys to help them overcome sexual thoughts, sexual temptation, weakness, masturbation, pornography, and instructions for them to not even look at scantily clad women on magazine covers or models in lingerie on posters, the EMB book series was proudly penned by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker and were - you guessed it - best-selling hits with Christian communities. And later on, a women’s version, Every Woman’s Battle, was spawned by Shannon Ethridge.
Needless to say, not a single one of these vomit-inducing publications, nor the excessive preaching of evangelists against “sexual sin” has healed, prevented, or overcome the sexual sins and immorality that still plague the churches. There may be a few souls who have held firmly to those writings, but not most. In fact, these heavy campaigns have only made Christians want to “sin” even more. The more something is prohibited, the more someone wants to do it, and the more someone else wants to go against it. That’s why you have countless cases that come out about pastors who have cheated on their wives, pastors or other men in the church who have secretly had sex with men, women in the church sleeping with pastors or deacons, women in the church having pre-marital sex or fornicating in general but then judging other women or are trying to act so pure, etc. Hell, even Christian singers have fallen prey to sexual sin, and some have written songs that vaguely talk about it.
Jerry Falwell Jr.’s own recent scandal - if you don't know about it - has even been appalling and also laughable to me. This guy was the president of his father's creation, Liberty University in Virginia, the biggest "Christian college" in the world, until he had to step down in August after a young man who was a "friend" of Jerry and his wife, came out about sleeping with his wife for years while Jerry liked to watched. Oh, and let's not forget that Jerry is an enormous Trump supporter and also told students that if we would all carry guns "we could end those Muslims." Needless to say this evangelical man has been put to utter shame because of his sexual sin.
Compromising, which in terms of faith means following secular standards or identifying with them while still trying to adhere to godliness, is an enormous issue in most churches. But I would say African-American and evangelist churches do it the absolute most, and the difference even between these two is that evangelist churches and their icons are much more well-known.
Evangelicals have been compromisers for decades, especially with the Christian music movement, and especially throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Feeling like they could reach “sinners” more and especially young ones, many Christian music artists have tried carrying an image and sound like secular artists that they want to appeal to any unbeliever who may be watching or listening. At the end of the day it just looks really stupid and even goofy to watch a so-called Christian girl or guy singing about Jesus while trying to look sensual or having tattoos down their arms and trying to look like a secular rapper or rock star. It makes me very uncomfortable and makes me feel that these artists are actually ashamed of being known for believing in Jesus, so they want to distract from that with worldly images.
Compromising evangelicals are also the same people who want to use worldly images, methods, etc. to reach unbelievers, but want to staunchly tell other Christians about not being in relationships with unbelievers; claiming they don’t watch TV or movies; persist in celebrating Christmas as Jesus' birth when we all know it really isn't; and - as we went over earlier - want to support ungodly Republican men and women in office just to get at people they hate. You can’t have it both ways. God said you either follow me or the world.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” - Matt. 6:24
Not ALL evangelicals are wrong…just most of them
Certainly, to be fair, not all evangelical figures, articles, books, music, etc. are incorrect. There are definitely some of these things that are upright and what I’ve even found to be true and helpful throughout my own faith. Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle church in New York City has had numerous bare-truth sermons that I’ve listened to and really enjoyed. He definitely preaches things like it is and he himself disagrees with many other churches and pastors who teach falsely. Andrew Farley in Texas has also spoken a lot of things that I can find no disagreement with, and he himself has talked about the false things churches have taught people for years.
And there are some great Christian music artists whose songs send true spiritual messages and who do not try to compromise with their image. However, most of such artists were prevalent in the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s. 4Him was a real powerhouse group when I was growing up, singing real-deal Christian music. Michael W. Smith, Rich Mullens, Twila Paris, Wayne Watson, and many others also have had moving, truly spiritual worship songs. But today, the Christian music industry lacks a lot of spiritual depth and is infused with a lot of compromising, as we now have Christian heavy rock, rap, and hip hop, all of which don’t work for me and actually make me very uncomfortable as a believer.
Having said all this, while there are pockets here and there of truly God-inspired people or words of faith in the evangelist movement, the majority of it is not really true and not full of real love. If it was, then the modern Christian world would be way stronger than it is, make a far bigger impact than it does, and would not have as many ugly stories coming out of it as it does.
Instead, the evangelist movement is largely despotic, full of the sexual sin it so heavily campaigns against; controls and abuses minds with judgmental teachings about heaven and hell - which is not always incorrect but becomes such when it's used to frighten people; puts emphasis on all the basic scriptures about adhering to tithes, baptism, and going to church but little on the deeper passages of the Bible that would require these Christians to have to give up their incorrect ways of thinking.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" - Matt. 7:21-23