Terror In The Sanctuary

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Such deaths resonate all the more since many conservative Christians increasingly see themselves as persecuted, if not so bloodily. Bob Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, explains that "when Christians stand for the absolute truth as found in Scripture, and society in general wants to jettison any absolutes, you immediately set up a tension." Until recently, Evangelicals understood that tension to be mostly a matter of legal barriers to school prayer and snide comments in the larger culture. But Reccord now suggests that "you can see where somebody [like Ashbrook] with emotional problems could express it as anger."

Jerry Falwell, as usual, goes a step further. "Most hate crimes in America today are not directed toward African-American or Jewish people or gays or lesbians," he claims. "They are directed at evangelical Christians." He blames "Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno" for not responding as forcefully to crimes against Evangelicals as they have to other kinds of hate crime.

Evangelicals' perception of themselves as targets has not yet altered their traditional opposition to gun control. Franklin Graham, Billy's son and heir apparent to his organization, says the true problem lies in our sinful nature: "Cain didn't use a gun." Reccord muses, "I think Evangelicals may say there are some things that perhaps need to be addressed through gun control, that guns, or perhaps kinds of guns, can contribute to violence. But they are not the ultimate problem, nor are TV shows or video games. The ultimate problem is inside the heart." And so, Evangelicals believe, is the ultimate answer.

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