Weapons and loose statistics


National Association of Evangelicals

A couple of months ago I was privileged to attend the annual National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) Board of Directors meeting, this time held in Los Angeles. This is an arena in which I represent what many there would consider “a little peace church.” Nobody actually says that, but it’s reasonably clear that it is a common take. This is the kind of gathering where I get to watch many of the long timers greet and hug each other while I look for a seat that has not yet been saved.

We were well hosted at the Foursquare Church headquarters, and the meeting was actually quite enjoyable. Besides the personal privilege of a couple of good chats with colleagues from across the nation, we all were afforded the extraordinary privilege of hearing former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry brief us on the current situation regarding our global “nuclear tipping point” realities. It was both captivating and unnerving.

This brilliant senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, who is presently an advisor to the President, culminated his remarks by saying, “I will spend the rest of my life working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. Because I helped to design and build most of them, I know best how to do that.” It occurred to me that this might be a good time for a standing ovation, but the little peace church guy was not willing to risk embarrassing his national family or more accurately himself.

My second thought was, “That’s astounding.” My prayer was and is, “May God help him.” In late November, I posted on Facebook that it is my prayer that diplomacy will win the day in Korea. It caught a little affirmation, but in my humble opinion not nearly enough. Seems to me praying for peace is a no-brainer, right? And so is celebrating someone working toward turning swords into plowshares.

National realities about Evangelicals

I’m guilty of it for sure: grabbing a statistic from an assumed trustworthy source and putting it to use for my own purposes. As long as we can cite Barna or Pew Forum or Zogby, we get the benefit of the doubt. Facts are good for building a case or making a point, whether written or spoken. Quoting the right facts might get some folks to take a preferred action or at least to get momentarily alarmed about something.

A few years ago, I heard Leith Anderson, current NAE president, challenge some stats and thereby dismantle some commonly held opinions. That was refreshing and also put in place a new grid for me: “Not so fast and loose with the data already OK?” Bradley Wright’s book, Christians are Hate-filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, is making the same point.

While it is not the kind of book everyone would love, love, love to read, it is a book worth browsing through and having on your shelf. Does it interest you to know whether it really is true that society respects Evangelicals less in recent years? Or whether Christians really do divorce as often as nonbelievers? Or whether church attendance among young people really is in a death spiral? Get the book. Then you can quote Dr. Wright.


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