Religious Right

The quiet (in terms of news coverage) rise of a secular coalition in US politics

The quiet (in terms of news coverage) rise of a secular coalition in US politics

NEW YORK -- Believe it or not, most Americans think their nation is becoming more tolerant, at least when it comes to warm feelings about most religious believers.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that, in terms of "thermometer" ratings, Americans felt "warmer" about nearly all religious groups than they did in 2014. Even chilly ratings for atheists and Muslims are approaching a neutral 50 score.

But there was one glitch in this warming trend, with evangelical Protestants stuck on a plateau. Christianity Today magazine noted that, when the views of evangelicals were removed from the mix, only a third of non-evangelical Americans had warm feelings toward evangelicals. Flip that around and that means two-thirds of non-evangelicals have lukewarm or cold feelings about evangelical Christians.

"There's a sharp divide in this country and it's getting stronger. … This tension has been obvious for years, for anyone with the eyes to see," said political scientist Louis Bolce of Baruch College in the City University of New York. "It's all about moral and social issues. Some people don't like the judgmental streak that they see in traditional forms of Christianity, like in evangelicalism and among traditional Roman Catholics."

Bolce and colleague Gerald De Maio have, over two decades, mustered research demonstrating that journalists have shown little or no interest in the liberal side of this divide. While offering in-depth coverage of the Christian Right, journalists have all but ignored a corresponding rise in what the Baruch College duo have called "anti-fundamentalist" activists. Among Democrats, the term "evangelical" has become as negative as the old "fundamentalist" label.

When journalists deal with religion and politics, "prejudice is attributed to people on the Religious Right, but not to people on the secular and religious left. Everything flows from that," said De Maio.

It's tricky: Donald Trump tries, once again, to nail down a personal Christian testimony

It was a tricky question when Jesus asked his disciples: "Whom say ye that I am?"

This was still a tricky question when conservative columnist Cal Thomas posed a version of it to Donald Trump, while interviewing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

"You have confessed that you are a Christian," said Thomas.

Trump responded: "And I have also won much evangelical support."

"Yes, I know that," said Thomas. "You have said you never felt the need to ask for God's forgiveness, and yet repentance for one's sins is a precondition to salvation. I ask you the question Jesus asked of Peter: Who do you say He is?"

Trump responded: "I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won't have to be asking for much forgiveness. As you know, I am Presbyterian and Protestant. … We have tremendous support from the clergy. I think I will be doing very well during the election with evangelicals and with Christians. … I'm going to treat my religion, which is Christian, with great respect and care."

Thomas repeated the question: "Who do you say Jesus is?"

Trump tried again: "Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind."

Voting-box nightmare -- many religious conservatives face 'lesser of two evils'

Voting-box nightmare -- many religious conservatives face 'lesser of two evils'

The nightmare vision focuses on a stark, painful moral choice.

It's Election Day. A Catholic voter who embraces her church's Catechism, or an evangelical committed to ancient doctrines on a spectrum of right-to-life issues, steps into a voting booth. This voter is concerned about the social impact of gambling, attempts at immigration reform, a culture fractured by divorce, battles over religious liberty and the future of the Supreme Court.

In this booth the choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Period.

"That's the scenario people I know are talking about and arguing about," said Stephen P. White of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., author of the book "Red, White, Blue and Catholic."

Many religious conservatives believe they "face a choice between two morally repugnant candidates," he added. "The reality of that choice is starting to drive some people into despair. … I understand that, but I think it would be wrong for people to think that they need to abandon politics simply because they are disgusted with this election."

This nightmare for religious conservatives is especially important since, in recent decades, successful Republican presidential candidates have depended on heavy turnouts among white evangelical Protestant voters and on winning, at the very least, a majority of "swing votes" among Catholics who frequently attend Mass.

While this year's election is in some ways unique, traditional Catholics and other moral conservatives need to realize that they are engaged in a debate that has been going on for centuries, said White. The big question: "Can Christians be good citizens?"

Trying to focus on the future

As strange as it may sound, the head of Focus on the Family is trying to find just the right place in his Colorado Springs office to put a framed copy of an editorial from the New York Times. Under the headline "Super Bowl Censorship," it defended the Christian group's right to buy a prime chunk of airtime, even if the ad focused on the decision by an ailing Pam Tebow to ignore her doctors' advice to abort her fifth child -- a son named Tim. Protests by the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America and others, it said, were "puzzling and dismaying."

"The would-be censors are on the wrong track," proclaimed the Times. "Instead of trying to silence an opponent, advocates for allowing women to make their own decisions about whether to have a child should be using the Super Bowl spotlight to convey what their movement is all about. ... Viewers can watch and judge for themselves. Or they can get up from the couch and get a sandwich."

Where should Focus on the Family President Jim Daly place this memento? After all, it represents a major event during the final days of founder Dr. James Dobson, the child psychologist who over three decades built one of America's most powerful radio franchises and evangelical ministries. Dobson's farewell broadcast was Feb. 26th.

Daly, who became Focus on the Family president in 2005, is thinking about putting the framed editorial between two photos. In one, Daly is standing with President George W. Bush. In the other, he is standing with President Barack Obama.

"I'll find a spot," he said. "That would be a rather symbolic place to put it."

Daly has worked for Focus on the Family for two decades, focusing on building a global audience of 200 million listeners. He is well aware that some loyalists on the legendary Focus on the Family mailing list -- a major resource when raising money or inspiring grassroots support on hot issues -- are worried about recent strategic moves.

Take, for example, Daly's decision to attend an Obama White House conference on fatherhood. Some also questioned the decision not to fight CBS over the right to explicitly mention abortion in the Super Bowl ad.

"I don't want to underestimate their concerns," said Daly. "There are people who want to see more of the hard-hitting approach. The thing is, I'm not sure that approach still works today."

While it's impossible to say if Focus on the Family will take another Super Bowl plunge, the mainstream-media approach used in the Tebow family ad is a sign to what lies ahead, and not just because the Heisman Trophy winner will soon be playing in nearby Denver.

The goal all along was to use the brief advertisement to point viewers toward a longer version of the Tebow story at, said spokesman Gary Schneeberger. Thus, the crucial post-Super Bowl numbers were these -- 92 million of the 106 million who watched the game told researchers they saw the Tebow ad. Among those who did, 6 percent said the spot and the furor surrounding it made them think twice about their beliefs on abortion. In all, about 1.5 million people went online to watch the more detailed Tebow feature.

Daly and Schneeberger insisted that there was no sneaky, brilliant strategy to hide the ad's contents, other than their desire to keep pressure off Tebow as he prepared for his final college bowl game. Nevertheless, a giant media storm was triggered by an early report that Focus on the Family was planning a Super Bowl ad, coupled with a later wire-service story that the Tebows were involved. The result, said Schneeberger, was the equivalent of $32 million worth of free ink and airtime in national media.

"The people who didn't approve of the ad that they had never seen ended up doing all of our talking points for us," he said. "We didn't have to say anything else."

The key lesson, agreed Daly, was that it's possible to "reach out and hold a dialogue" with an audience larger than the Focus on the Family mailing list. The Super Bowl project proved that the ministry could frame a message in such a way that "people outside of our niche had a chance to catch it and it does appear that some caught it. We think that's progress."

'Lying' about God onscreen

When it comes to comedian Ricky Gervais, journalist Paul Asay openly confesses that he is a fan. This may seem strange since Asay works for Plugged In, a media Web site sponsored by Focus on the Family -- a powerful brand name in evangelical media. Yes, he knows the hip writer, actor and director is a proud, articulate atheist. However, he also thinks that Gervais is "actually quite talented and a very funny guy."

Thus, Asay had mixed feelings when he reviewed, “The Invention of Lying,” the comedian’s new comedy. After all, Gervais had publicly pledged that it would be both a “sweet Hollywood” romantic comedy and the “first ever completely atheistic movie with no concessions.”

For Asay, watching the movie became a “frustrating, disturbing, deeply saddening experience. And it was funny. Which makes it, in some ways, that much worse.” While the movie displayed Gervais’ talents, it also revealed that he has “very little knowledge of what he seeks to skewer. He takes an infantile interpretation of spirituality -- one that most of us leave behind for deeper truths by the age of 3 or 4 and deconstructs it to the point of imbecility,” wrote Asay.

But here’s the plot twist. While “The Invention of Lying” has received bad reviews from most religious critics, it has not provoked headline-friendly calls to arms by the usual suspects on the religious right.

This has not, in other words, been “The DaVinci Code,” “The Golden Compass” or even the anti-faith “Religulous” sermon from provocateur Bill Maher. So far, the Gervais opus is drawing small crowds into theaters and zero protesters onto sidewalks. As it began its third week, it had grossed only $16,956,375 while sliding to 16th place at the box office.

“The whole movie industry today is such a one week and you’re done affair,” noted Asay. “If you don’t make waves right away, you’re kind of over. ... In retrospect, Gervais and his people may have wanted to pump up that atheism angle in the marketing to get a bigger splash in the press. They needed to do something.”

“The Invention of Lying” takes place in a parallel world in which people cannot lie. Thus, advertisements are rather blunt. The Pepsi slogan is, “When they don’t have Coke,” and a nursing home is called, “A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People.”

Then along comes Mark Bellison, a pudgy loser who, in a moment of desperation, intentionally overdraws his bank account and gets away with it. This discovery changes his life, but he also learns that lying cannot solve all his problems. In the movie’s pivotal scene, the liar played by Gervais comforts his dying mother by telling her she soon will be reunited with her loved ones in a land of peace, love and happiness, where there is no pain.

Hospital workers overhear this proclamation and the loser quickly becomes a pseudo-messiah, offering stunning revelations about a great “man in the sky” who controls people’s lives and decides whether they spend eternity in a good place (lots of ice cream) or a bad place.

Nevertheless, the prophet knows he is a fake. While visiting his mother’s grave he confesses, in a fit of guilt: “I know you’re not up there in a mansion. You’re right here in the ground and I’m the only one who knows that.”

It was impossible to watch that scene, and others in “The Invention of Lying,” without feeling some kind of compassion, said Thaisha Geiger, a language arts teacher who reviews movies for the Web site.

Since she was not familiar with Gervais, she did some online research to learn more about his beliefs. She was struck by the fact that Gervais lost his faith as a young child. However, he also told, “I always knew that if my mum asked me when she was dying if there was a heaven, I’d say yes. ... I think that’s how religion started — as a good lie.”

That painful conflict made it onto the screen, said Geiger.

“The movie really is about his beliefs ... so he was probably expecting Christians to yell and scream after they saw this movie,” she said. “But I didn’t feel anger when I saw it. I really walked away feeling sad. ... I thought, ‘He’s an atheist. We should pray for him.’ Maybe he’s disappointed that more people aren’t mad.”

Nailing the evangelical fads

The upperclassman sat across the cafeteria table from freshman Joe Carter and, in a matter of minutes, asked The Big Question -- a question about eternal life and death. As any evangelical worth his or her salt knows, that question sounds like this: "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" Super aggressive believers prefer: "Are you saved? If you died tonight, would go to heaven or hell?"

Carter remembers replying: "I'm, yeah, actually I have."

What happened next was strange. The young man was "visibly disappointed" and "wore a look of minor defeat" because he wouldn't get to save a soul during this lunch period. He ate quickly and departed and, this is the crucial detail for Carter, they never spoke again.

The evangelist wasn't looking for a friend or dialogue with a believer. He wanted to carve another notch on his Bible, using techniques learned during a soul-saving workshop. If his blunt approach offended strangers, or even strengthened their "Fundie-alert systems," that was their problem, not his.

Every decade or so there are new, improved techniques for making these spiritual sales pitches, each backed with snappy catch phrases and, these days, with hot websites, books and videos. Then everything changes again a generation later, noted Carter. What you get are stacks of leftover "Left Behind" video games, "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets, "emerging church" study guides and copies of "The Prayer of Jabez."

It helps to know that Carter is himself an evangelical who is concerned about evangelism issues. As a journalist, the 39-year-old former U.S. Marine has worked for a number of conservative causes, including World Magazine, the Family Research Center and the presidential campaign of Mike Huckabee. He recently finished helping build, a right-of-center forum for evangelicals, Catholics and mainline Protestants interested in discussing how religion, culture and politics mix in daily life.

That website's future is uncertain, but before his recent departure Carter nailed a manifesto to that cyber-door -- dissecting 10 fads that he believes are hurting evangelical organizations and churches. While most conservatives have been arguing about their political future, in the Barack Obama era, Carter decided to focus on faith issues.

It's a list that will be puzzling to outsiders not fluent in evangelical lingo. The "Sinner's Prayer, which reduces the quest for salvation to a short "magical incantation," made the list, as did the emphasis on "premillennial dispensationalism" and other apocalyptic teachings in some churches.

Carter is also tired of long, improvised public prayers in which every other phrase contains the word "just," as in, "We just want to thank you Lord." He would like to hear more sermons focusing on the life of Jesus, as opposed to preachers and evangelists focusing on their own dramatic life "testimonies." And while he is in favor of growing churches, Carter is worried that the "church growth movement" has evolved from a fad into a permanent fixture on the American scene.

"What most people call the church-growth movement is something that grew out of business principles, instead of growing -- organically -- out of the life of the church," he said. "People started trying to figure out how they could change the church so they could get more people to come inside, rather than doing what the early church did, which was going outside the church and reaching people by actually getting to know them. ...

"It's like people started saying, 'What kind of music do we need to play so that more people will join? What do we need to do to the preaching? What kind media can we add to the services?' "

But the thread that runs through this online manifesto is that Carter is convinced that evangelicals need to spend less time striving to make quick conversions and more time training disciples who stay the course.

In the end, he said, techniques will not carry over from one generation to another.

"Part of the problem is that evangelicals really don't have traditions," said Carter. "Instead, we have these fads that are built on the strengths and talents of individual leaders. ... But a real tradition can be handed on to anyone, from generation to generation. It's hard to hand these evangelical fads down like that, so it seems like we're always starting over. It's hard to build something that really lasts."

Memory eternal, Paul Weyrich

It was the kind of quote that is catnip for politicos and scribes inside the Washington Beltway. "What Americans would have found absolutely intolerable only a few years ago, a majority now not only tolerates but celebrates," proclaimed Paul M. Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation.

Then came the statement that set pundits to chattering for weeks.

"I no longer believe that there is a moral majority," proclaimed Weyrich, in a 1999 epistle that made many liberals cheer and some conservatives grumble.

It helps to understand that Weyrich -- who died shortly before Christmas -- was the strategist who coined the "moral majority" label for the Rev. Jerry Falwell and his new grassroots network. Weyrich urged conservative intellectuals and donors to build think tanks, political-action committees and lobbying groups -- mirroring strategies on the left. Above all, he helped lead efforts to convince conservative Catholics, Protestants and Jews that, when it came to issues of faith and family, they could find unity in their shared cultural values.

For many activists, noted direct-mail pioneer Richard A. Viguerie, this legacy is enough to put him on the right's "version of Mount Rushmore" with William F. Buckley, Jr., Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

But for others -- Sen. John McCain leaps to mind -- this same Weyrich was a narrow true believer who was a faithful Catholic conservative, first, and a loyal Republican, way, way, second.

Weyrich knew that his famous 1999 epistle on politics and culture was a turning point. After all, the founder of the Heritage Foundation was arguing that America's cultural heritage was cracked. The leader of the Free Congress Foundation was saying that a GOP-driven Congress was failing, on cultural issues.

For many years, he argued, conservatives assumed that most Americans agreed with them on moral and cultural issues. They also believed that "if we could just elect enough conservatives, we could get our people in as Congressional leaders and they would fight to implement our agenda." But this equation didn't work.

"The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture," he argued. "The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics."

In an interview months after issuing that letter, Weyrich explained that two radically different groups of politicos -- with sharply different motives -- misinterpreted his main message.

On the political left, many said he had issued a ringing call for religious conservatives to go back to church and stay there. On the political right, many of his friends and allies were angry and felt betrayed for the same reason. Apparently, they read right past his statement: "Please understand that I am not quarreling with anybody who pursues politics, because it is important to pursue politics, to be involved in government."

The key, said Weyrich, was that he had become convinced that many conservatives couldn't see that it is almost impossible to pass legislation that produces change at the level of homes, churches, schools, theaters and malls. It is almost impossible for politics to shape or redeem culture. Instead, the realities of media, education and mass culture are what shape -- over time -- America's political trends.

The political strategist knew that "values voters" in red zip codes would continue to win some battles in the years ahead. But the political victories that would matter the most, he said, would be the defensive moves that protected their own churches, schools, missions and other religious groups from future legal attacks.

Weyrich never urged anyone to quit. But the former journalist did warn religious leaders that it was time to focus on winning the "culture wars" in their own homes and sanctuaries.

"We probably have lost the culture war," he concluded, in the 1999 letter. "That doesn't mean the war is not going to continue, and that it isn't going to be fought on other fronts. But in terms of society in general, we have lost. This is why, even when we win in politics, our victories fail to translate into the kind of policies we believe are important. ...

"We need to drop out of this culture, and find places ... where we can live godly, righteous and sober lives."

Religion '07: Huck's Christmas story

It was a simple commercial, with Mike Huckabee posed in front of a set of scandalously empty white bookshelves that, when framed just right beside a Christmas tree, formed a glowing cross behind the candidate.

And, lo, the former Southern Baptist pastor told the voters: "Are you about worn out by all the television commercials you've been seeing, mostly about politics? I don't blame you. At this time of year, sometimes it's nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is a celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and our friends. I hope that you and your family will have a magnificent Christmas season. And on behalf of all of us, God bless and merry Christmas."

This caused a firestorm among the political elites that symbolized the year's biggest trend in religion news -- the revenge of the infamous "values voters" who, apparently, remain alive and well in church pews across the heartland.

But will the Republican Party win this "pew gap" contest again? That was the question that dominated the Religion Newswriters Association poll to determine the top 10 religion news stories in 2007. There were plenty of new signs that the so-called religious right exists, but that it isn't a monolith after all.

Here's how America's religion-beat specialists described the year's top story: "Evangelical voters ponder whether they will be able to support the eventual Republican candidate, as they did in 2004, because of questions about the leaders' faith and-or platform. Many say they would be reluctant to vote for Mormon Mitt Romney."

Then, in the number-two slot, was the flip side of that political coin: "Leading Democratic presidential candidates make conscious efforts to woo faith-based voters after admitting failure to do so in 2004."

The rise of Huckabee was the strongest sign that the "values voters" are still out there, but that they are not meshing well with the Republican Party establishment. The latest Southern Baptist from Hope, Ark., has been preaching a blend of conservative morality and populist economics that made him sound like an old-fashioned Bible Belt Democrat from the days before Roe v. Wade.

"The Huckabee surge represents a break with what has been standard operating procedure within the GOP for more than a generation," argued columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., of the Washington Post, an outspoken Catholic who remains a Democrat. "The former Arkansas governor has exposed a fault line within the Republican coalition. The old religious right is dying because it subordinated the views of its followers to short-term political calculations. The white evangelical electorate is tired of taking orders from politicians who care more about protecting the wealthy than ending abortion, more about deregulation than family values."

Here is the rest of the RNA top 10 list:

(3) The Anglican wars continued, as an Episcopal Church promise to exercise restraint on homosexual issues failed to bring peace in the global Anglican Communion. Doctrinal debates about marriage and sex continued to cause tensions in other flocks as well, both Christian and Jewish.

(4) Debates about global warming increased in importance, with many oldline Protestant leaders giving the topic a high priority. Meanwhile, some evangelical leaders argued about its importance in comparison with other social and moral issues.

(5) Religious leaders on both sides of the aisle questioned what to do about illegal immigration, with some clergy daring to shelter undocumented immigrants.

(6) Thousands of Buddhist monks led a pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, which was then crushed by the government.

(7) Conservative Episcopalians kept leaving the U.S. church in order to align with traditionalist Anglican bishops in Africa and elsewhere in the global South, initiating yet another round of legal disputes about church endowment funds and property.

(8) In another round of 5-4 votes, the U.S. Supreme Court took conservative stands on three cases with religious implications: upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions, allowing public schools to establish some limits on free speech and rejecting a challenge to the government's Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

(9) Transitions continued at the top of major Evangelical Protestant institutions, as symbolized by the deaths of Jerry Falwell, Rex Humbard, Ruth Bell Graham, D. James Kennedy and Tammy Faye Messner, the ex-wife of Jim Bakker.

(10) Roman Catholic leaders in the United States wrestled with the high cost of settling legal cases linked to decades of clergy sexual abuse of children and teen-agers. The price tag reached $2.1 billion, with a record $660 million settlement in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Young, cosmopolitan evangelicals

WASHINGTON -- Jim Wallis and Richard Land were preaching to the same flock, but their sermons at the recent "Values Voters Summit" reached very different conclusions.

"I am an evangelical Christian who tries to live under biblical authority. A fundamental is the dignity of human life. We are all created in the image of God," said Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine and author of "God's Politics."

But it's time for new strategies, he said. Evangelicals should try to "dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America" through adoption and education, while striving to find "common ground to actually save unborn lives."

The message between the lines: Think about voting for Democrats.

But Land insisted that evangelicals must continue to demand legal protections for the unborn.

"I want to put together a coalition that will work and do what we can to save individual babies one at a time," said Land, leader of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. "But the fact is, if we didn't have laws against segregation, we would still have it. If we didn't have laws against slavery, we would still have it."

The message between the lines: Stay the course with the GOP.

Both of these preachers knew that evangelical Christians -- especially young ones -- have yet to embrace a 2008 presidential candidate. That's why Republicans are sweating and Democrats are praying, even in public.

Wallis and Land were arguing for a reason. Young evangelicals are losing faith in the current occupant of the White House, according to new numbers from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Many would be willing to listen to a Democrat who risked blending progressive politics with traditional moral values. But is that heresy?

Here's the big news. Five years ago, President Bush's approval rating with white evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 30 was 87 percent -- a number that has fallen to 45 percent. Meanwhile, 52 percent of older evangelicals continue to back the president.

Back in 2001, 55 percent of the young who called themselves "evangelicals" or "born-again" said they were Republicans, as opposed to 16 percent who were Democrats and 26 percent independents. This time around, it was 40 percent Republican, 19 percent Democrat and 32 percent independent.

"It isn't 100 percent clear why this has occurred," said John C. Green of the University of Akron, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum. "The young evangelicals remain quite conservative on moral and social issues. That just isn't changing or it isn't changing very much. ...

"There is a real sense that they are afraid of being seen as being judgmental, but if you push further you find out that they are still not backing away from traditional Christian beliefs."

On abortion, 70 percent of young evangelicals said it should be "more difficult for a woman to get an abortion" -- a stance claimed by 55 percent of older evangelicals and 39 percent of young Americans in general.

Nevertheless, it's possible that subtle changes are happening behind the political headlines, according to sociologist Michael Lindsay, author of "Faith in the Halls of Power." The "populist evangelicalism" of the past is evolving into a "cosmopolitan evangelicalism" that seeks success in Hollywood, on Wall Street and in the Ivy League, as well as on Capitol Hill.

Some of these young evangelicals don't want to hang Thomas Kinkade paintings on their walls, fill their bookshelves with "Left Behind" novels or sing pseudo-romantic praise choruses in sprawling megachurches. And when it comes to politics, they also care about the environment, health care and social justice.

Eventually, these changes will affect their politics. The young evangelicals want to keep their conservative approach to faith, but apply it to a wider spectrum of issues, while using a different style of activism.

"The edges have been softened," said Lindsay, at a forum dissecting the Pew Forum research. Thus, while "populist evangelicals want to take back America" or contribute to the "Christianization of this country, cosmopolitan evangelicals have a more modest goal.

"They simply want their faith to be seen as legitimate, authentic, and -- they hope in the end -- attractive and winsome. In the same way, they do want their faith to draw others, but they use different forms of mobilization that are far more subtle, more nuanced, and because of that, more significant."