Over the weekend, I watched @GinaWelch interviewed by Richard Metzger of the LA Times, and I thought it worth passing along. The discussion of her book In the Land of Believers is very interesting, though Metzger reveals some astonishing naivetÃ© about evangelicals. Metzger suggests, for instance, that evangelicals would make America into a theocracy if they couldâ€”which is really ironic given that the notion of separation of church and state derives in part from early American Baptists. Southern Baptists today also believe in “the separation of church and state,” not theocracy. Apparently, Metzger thinks secularism and separation are synonyms. He’s wrong, and Welch politely disagrees with him on that one.
Metzger also frames a question that suggests evangelicals are what they are because they have a lower IQ than progressives. Welch disagrees with him on that one as well, though she does think that evangelicals tend to value education less than progressives.
Probably the chief irony of this interview, however, came from Welch herself. She suggests that evangelicals have a fear of “the other” (i.e., non-repentant sinners) because of their insularity from the wider culture (by which I think she means elite, progressive culture). It seems to me, however, that the insularity goes both ways. Coastal elites can be just as insular as what she observes among some evangelicals. That fact is the premise that makes her book work.
If you’re watching this interview as an evangelical, don’t be surprised if it makes you feel a little like a caged animal at the zoo. Metzger gawks warily at the dangerous and exotic beast, wondering what will happen if it ever escapes. Kind of creepy. Anyway, interesting interview.
[I wrote a review of Welch’s book In the Land of Believers last week. Click here to read it.]