Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Secular media are still entranced by evangelicals -- at once a diverse body of Christian believers and a tightly honed conservative movement. Evangelicals, it is said, were a major reason why George W. Bush won a second term, and many pundits are watching them closely as the 2006 elections near.

But who are these evangelicals and what do they really want? A theocracy? A return to "traditional" American values? Tickets to Friday's Third Day concert?

Two just-released books by secular media heavyweights try to explain the phenomenon to the uneducated, and come to starkly different conclusions. They both, of course, make an obligatory pilgrimage to Colorado Springs.

"Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America," was written by Jeffery Sheler, a contributing religion editor for U.S. News and World Report. He details visits to Focus on the Family and The Navigators -- two area ministry heavyweights -- but also talks with Brent Fuqua of "Hoops of Hope" and the Christian Cowboys Association. His conclusion: Evangelicals are pretty darn diverse, and their motives aren't all that sinister.

"Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement," by journalist Lauren Sandler, makes a stop at Colorado Springs' New Life Church and explores the supercharged youth scene there. She suggests that young evangelicals are radicals, out to change the world -- and anyone interested in more secular, progressive ideals should shake in their boots.

Both are published by Viking, a secular publishing outfit.


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