I don't have much use for the notion that hostility toward religion generally or Christianity in particular pervades American media. Yes, Bill Maher can be kind of horrible, but there's really just the one of him on TV. What is common (if still hardly pervasive) among left-leaning commentators is an attitude toward religion that includes little hatred or vitriol but plenty of puzzlement, ignorance, and mild condescension. Here's an odd example by science writer Brian Palmer, on medical missionaries in Africa:
Is the United Methodist Church an American denomination with extensions overseas? Or is it a worldwide communion?
The whole Kony-video thing seems to be over. Most of the millions of viewers watched the half-hour film about Joseph Kony right after Invisible Children released it. The group's action kits are sold out. Lots of thoughtful criticism has been written and widely shared. Yet I keep coming back to it, because these conversations have revolved around questions I wrestle with regularly as a missionary in Nicaragua.
I'd like to see this award-winning journalist's book read by all Christians--from evangelicals who believe that their life's calling is to save souls to those Christians who, while denouncing proselytizing, feel called to offer compassionate, practical aid to those who need help. For either of the above missionary types, Griswold dispels illusions. She is fearless in following a story into the most remote village, and wise in her understanding of how religions collide and inflame and exacerbate volatile situations.
On a recent trip to Jordan, no one directing my tour group objected to my meeting with Christian evangelicals. But the evangelicals were nervous. They are carefully conforming to the role that Jordan has given them: providing social services and avoiding activities that could invite government suspicion—like preaching or distributing Bibles. Publicly they state, “We’re not here to change anyone’s religion, we’re here to help people.”“Still,” one of them added later, “If I get five minutes with someone I’m going to share the gospel.” There are few stories of Jordanian Muslims converting to Christianity. Evangelical missionaries explain that it takes time, but they also seem frustrated that the Jordanian government hasn’t recognized their efforts to moderate their language and behavior.