Evangelicals — Protestant Christians including both Fundamentalists and Pentecostals — are self-described as “born again.” The term evangelical literally means gospel or good news, which Evangelicals actively spread near and far. While some Evangelicals limit their evangelism to spreading the news of salvation, others spread the gospel of damnation. While Fundamentalists are frequently racist and homophobic, Pentecostals usually reject racism, but are split over homophobia.
Evangelism, racism and homophobia, of course, are found in most Christian denominations to some degree. Christian missionaries, by definition, assume the arrogant position that non-believers are wrong, and that they have been sent by God to convert them–to make them right. This evangelism has caused severe divisions, resulting in cultural disintegration of Indigenous societies, as well as sociopolitical upheaval–especially in Latin America and Africa.
13% of all Christians are Evangelicals, 29% of which are found in the United States, followed by Brazil at 26%. What distinguishes the “born again,” perhaps, is their religious fervor, what sometimes characterizes the charismatic movement. Among the Evangelical churches in Africa, Pentecostal charismatics are prominent. In Uganda, American Pentecostals were behind the movement to enact laws making homosexuality punishable by death.
While nominally not racist, Pentecostals are often involved in holy wars against atheistic forces of evil. To some Pentecostals, this includes deists and Indigenous peoples, who believe in a divine spirit but not the Christian gospel. In places like Guatemala, where the Pentecostal Evangelical President Efrain Rios Montt led a thirty-year civil war against the Indigenous Mayans, holy war can become genocide.
To be fair, Evangelicals can be either liberal or conservative, their fervent activism being the trait they share in common. Religious Right Evangelicals in America are perhaps best known for backing the election of Ronald Reagan, the ideological icon of privatization. It is these Evangelicals that are known for seeking a privileged position for Christianity in public affairs.
The motivation for Pentecostalism is the belief in the Second Coming of Christ, which lends an urgency to their Evangelical mission. While evangelism of other Christian denominations is also aimed at conversion, Pentecostalism is distinguished by its active involvement in political campaigns to smite heathens. At its worst, Pentecostalism can constitute a Christian jihad, based on satanic panic, rooted in spiteful piety.
In America, this piety derives from a fusing of the Puritan tradition and the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. The dynamism of the Evangelical movement makes it a formidable foe.
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