Christianity Today Doubles Down on Samuel Rodriguez
gregmetzger printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 03:04:28 PM EST
A central feature of my work over the last four months has been exposing the contradictory positions of Samuel Rodriguez, and a major goal of mine has been to see both secular and religious institutions come to grips with his extremism and distance themselves from his work. Of particular concern to me is Rodriguez's standing within evangelical institutions that I have considered centrist or progressive. Like many writers and commentators I have considered Christianity Today a reliable bell weather of the evangelical center.
As I have been reporting on Samuel Rodriguez over the last five months I have been working under the assumption that the decision of Christianity Today to have Rodriguez serve in the elite position on the Board of Directors of Christianity Today International was done out of ignorance of Rodriguez's extreme political, cultural and theological views. I believed that their glowing coverage of Rodriguez and their regular use of him as a source or a writer for key stories was done out of the same general ignorance of Rodriguez that has allowed him to advance so far even within religiously and politically progressive circles. I firmly believed that if they knew of Rodriguez's established role in the New Apostolic Reformation and the Religious Right, as well as his disturbing pattern of duplicity and culture war extremism, that they would come to their senses and recognize that by elevating Rodriguez they were sending a disturbing message about what the evangelical mainstream actually is and represents. Given the fact that Christianity Today regularly decries the secular media for assuming that radical figures like C. Peter Wagner and radical groups like the Oak Initiative represent the evangelical center, I assumed that when they saw how closely Rodriguez has tied himself to these and other symbols of religious extremism they would hasten to marginalize Rodriguez.

Sadly, the months that I have spent researching, writing and speaking about Samuel Rodriguez have led me to conclude that my past assumptions about Christianity Today were wrong. The decisive breaking point for me came last night when I paged through the newest issue of Christianity Today. This December 2011 issue, coming on the heels of months of stories about Rodriguez, stories that I know for a fact that major figures within Christianity Today have been fully aware of, features a full-page advertisement for a new venture of Christianity Today entitled "This is Christianity Today". This advertisement appears on page 79 and is highlighted by a large photograph of Samuel Rodriguez. Next to his full-color 6X5-picture is the following quote attributed to Rodriguez:

The emerging generation is tired and frustrated with the constant bickering about issues in our culture. Christianity Today provides a platform in the Christian arena that's holistic, compassionate, and reconciliatory. There can still be disagreement, but it's disagreement with love and civility.
If you know the full story of Samuel Rodriguez these words are a farce and you will see Christianity Today's decision to further his agenda as a monumental strike against their reputation as centrist gatekeepers of the evangelical movement. But in case you are new to the Samuel Rodriguez story or are in need of a refresher course in Samuel Rodriguez's understanding of "love and civility", here are a few key examples of how he speaks "about issues in our culture": Before a large Christian rally Rodriguez said mockingly that a Muslim leader he knew had prayed this prayer:
I come in the name of Allah, Allah and the prophet Mohammad blah, blah, blah, pass the ammunition, all that good stuff
Rodriguez has backed his uncivil speech about Muslims with equally uncivil actions by helping to found and then serving as vice president of the virulently anti-Islamic Oak Initiative as they were engaged in a national campaign called "Sharia: Threat to America". In this 2010 quote Rodriguez ascribed these motivations to President Obama's environmental policies:
Business and capitalism are dirty words in many White House and progressive circles, except in two ways. Business is good when it can be co-opted and manipulated by government to advance "progressive" energy, social or economic agendas. And capitalism is a virtue in the sense of capitalizing on every crisis to promote those agendas through the guiding principle enshrined by leftists like Saul Alinsky and Rahm Emanuel
At a 2010 meeting of the Oak Initiative meeting Rodriguez said "we need a Tea Party movement" because under the Obama administration
government has taken over the auto industry, the banking industry, the health industry, soon the energy industry. We have never been in this place before. Our founding fathers are turning in their graves. This is big government on steroids.
As the 2010 midterm elections neared, Rodriguez's Oak Initiative produced and widely distributed a video by Oak board member (Ret.) Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin's entitled "Marxism in America" that included this analysis of the Affordable Care Act that Obama had signed:
Remember Hitler had the brown shirts and in the night of the long knives even Hitler got scared of the brown shirts and killed thousands of them. Well, so you say, are there any signs that that's actually happened. The truth is, yes. If you read the healthcare's actually in the healthcare legislation. There are paragraphs in the healthcare legislation that talk about the commissioning of officers in time of a national crisis to work directly for the president. It's laying the groundwork for a constabulary force that will control the population in America. You need to understand that this is happening in America and its fits the model that has been used when societies move to Marxism.
These quotes give excellent justification for Karl Rove's description of Rodriguez as "The Hispanic Karl Rove" but I for one am surprised that they are now the quotes of the man who Christianity Today sets forth as the spokesman for their brand of Christian civility.

if Christianity Today is being undermined from within by the far right. Perhaps there have been recent shakeups that forced out some of the more moderate voices within the organization.

Speculation aside, it would be interesting to find out whether or not CT has been targeted for takeover by the religious right.

by LupusGreywalker on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 12:41:53 AM EST

issue with the 10th anniversary cover story on 9/11 you see that two of the 10 commentators asked to share their perspective on the event were Samuel Rodriguez and Bishop Harry Jackson--the two leading figures in the Religious Right's outreach to minority communities and two people with strong apostolic credentials. That alone invites speculation about precisely the internal changes you allude to.

by gregmetzger on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 10:44:16 PM EST

Business and capitalism are dirty words in many White House and progressive circles, except in two ways. Business is good when it can be co-opted and manipulated by government to advance "progressive" energy, social or economic agendas. And capitalism is a virtue in the sense of capitalizing on every crisis to promote those agendas through the guiding principle enshrined by leftists like Saul Alinsky and Rahm Emanuel

Is he serious??? If Rahm Emanuel is a leftist, it is a sorry commentary on how far to the radical right the country has gone. And how much further the theocrats want to push it.

As far as the rest of it, you could "fix that quote" and say:

Government and socialism are dirty words in many religious and Tea Party circles, except in two ways. Government is good when it can be co-opted and manipulated by Business and Religion to advance "faith based initiatives", tax breaks for the wealthy, and conservative social or economic agendas. And socialism is a virtue in the sense of using every crisis to promote those agendas that further handouts to churches, banks and business through the guiding principles enshrined by libertarians like Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan. :o)

by phatkhat on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 07:32:31 PM EST
what's good for the goose is definitely not good for the gander. What flaming hypocrites!

by phatkhat on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 07:33:49 PM EST

you should be urging Jim Wallis, a voice for progressive economic solutions on the Christian Left, to speak out against Samuel Rodriguez instead of helping to elevate his standing as some sort of economic justice/post-partisan progressive. He has thus far done nothing to challenge Samuel Rodriguez after his years of helping to promote him.

by gregmetzger on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 12:32:39 PM EST

spotlight on CT and their willful ignorance about Rodriguez. His ties to the Oak Initiative is enough to questions his Centrism alone, but his remarks are surely not what someone who truly wanted dialogue with the left would say.

by trog69 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 09:36:40 PM EST
for your kind words. "Willful ignorance" is a good word for it, or even worse a surrender to the rise of the New Apostolic Reformation and a decision to welcome it into the "big tent" of evangelicalism. What is just so troubling is that they are welcoming something in that so many ordinary mainstream evangelicals no nothing about, and that if they did know would resist. They are enabling something without even letting people in their constituency in on it. Rodriguez will continue to rise until people of substantial leadership credentials within evangelicalism challenge the underlying beliefs and practices that he represents. In the absence of that, we can not allow the hypocritical doublespeak of "NAR is marginal and obscure" and "Samuel Rodriguez is a central figure in our movement". They can't have it both ways intellectually, and they can't have it both ways in terms of expecting benign treatment of their political and cultural ambitions.

by gregmetzger on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 10:39:28 PM EST

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