Christianity has been much maligned and accused as a religion
that has done harm to the world. But Vincent Carroll provides proof in
his new book, Christianity
, that Christianity has transformed the world for good.
Pat Robertson spoke with him to discuss the true history and impact of
PAT ROBERTSON: Joining us is Vincent Carroll, co-author of this
very interesting book called Christianity on Trial: Arguments Against
Anti-Religious Bigotry. Mr. Carroll is a very distinguished editor of
the editorial pages at the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, which by the
way is a very popular newspaper, and we appreciate him being with us.
Welcome, glad to have you with us!
VINCENT CARROLL: My pleasure.
ROBERTSON: You have written a book to answer charges that you
see in the media. I will never forget the Washington Post when we asked
for calls on Judge Clarence Thomas' nomination and over 400,000 came
in. And the Washington Post immediately responded and said: these are
quote "followers of Pat Robertson" and they're poor, uneducated,
and easy to command. And when they were challenged on that, the man
who wrote it said everybody knows that is true. Is that the prevailing
view in the liberal media, that those who are evangelical Christians
or devout Roman Catholics are somehow a little kooky or not well-educated?
CARROLL: I think it is too common a view throughout the cultural
elites of this country. All you have to do is think, "What is it
that the average American knows about Christian history?" They
know about the Inquisition, they know about the depredations of the
Crusades, they know about the silencing of Galileo, the Salem witch
trials. You can go through a whole list of very specific things. But
if you ask those same people, "What's the other side of the ledger?
What is Christianity responsible for that we all agree are good things
in our civilization?" Most of them would be tongue-tied, I think.
ROBERTSON: You know, you see somebody like Gore Vidal, a noted
homosexual, who's attacking, but he doesn't say, "I am a homosexual,
therefore I don't like Christianity because it says what I am doing
is sin." You wish people with that particular lifestyle will identify
themselves of who they are before they attack. But they don't, they
hide behind some august journal and write stories.
CARROLL: A lot of people have their own agendas for why they
don't like Christianity, there's no doubt about it. But that specific
statement that he made about more people having died in the name of
Jesus Christ than any other cause in world history is simply false.
You know, Christian ethics have prevented as much violence at least
as it has caused. And I think the record in terms of Christianity toward
violence is actually much better than a lot of other religions and other
ROBERTSON: Christianity has been accused of misogyny, and the
truth is the so-called liberation of women, the suffragette movement,
arose out of the churches. And the child labor laws rose out of the
evangelical pulpits. There's no question [Christians fought on their
behalf], if you read the history of the United States and the world
and way back to the days of the Roman Empire.
CARROLL: That's absolutely true. Most of the humane reform movements
in the 19th century in this country were led by the evangelicals, abolitionism
was, the suppression of the slave trade. But you're right, go all the
way back to the beginning of the Roman Empire, women were much better
off, their status was better off, in the Christian communities, they
were not forced to marry and they were taken care of by the Christian
community if their husband died. There is no question, their status
was better and has been better throughout many Christian communities
ROBERTSON: You know, I was looking yesterday at an atlas, a
summary of the world religions, and Christianity has very close to two
billion adherents right now, and is the largest religion and accounts
to about 32 percent of the total world population. It has to have something
good coming out of it, but the elites in America don't seem to want
to acknowledge that.
CARROLL: One of the things that people don't realize is, the
revolutionary nature of the belief in the moral equality of all individuals,
Christianity was the principal instrument by which that spread throughout
the world. And it had revolutionary implications in terms of humane
treatment of everybody, in terms of abolition of slavery, in terms of
a whole host of things, and even to this day, Christianity is one of
the principal forces of democratization throughout the world, in places
like South Korea and everywhere else.
ROBERTSON: The Bible says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord
is, there is liberty." Did not the foundation - and everything
I've read about the entire United States founding, this experiment of
liberty - didn't that found out of the Christian churches?
CARROLL: There is no question that Christianity had a major
impact on the founding of this nation. The spirit of '76 was suffused
with Christian principles, Christian ethics. The Great Awakening of
a few decades before was instrumental in that. And, indeed, the very
founding of this nation, the Puritans, the covenant theology was important
to many of the Founders in 1776.
ROBERTSON: Let's talk about this Nazi thing. From what I can
gather, the whole concept of Aryanism came out of the Hindu faith, the
Aryans. And the swastika was a symbol that was used by the Aryans, and
I've seen it in India when I've been over there, and the Germans may
have called it a broken cross, but that really was not what it was.
Can you address that, that somehow Christianity was the root of Nazism?
CARROLL: It seems to me that Nazism clearly is a neo-pagan phenomenon.
And it was a phenomenon that was not just anti -Semitic, it was anti-Christian.
The Nazis wanted to suppress Christianity, they would have had they
won the war, they did it in western Poland, and they extirpated, virtually,
the Catholic church. They were explicitly anti-Christian as well as
ROBERTSON: I have been to Dachau and I have seen the barracks
that were reserved for the evangelical pastors that stood up against
Hitler. So it wasn't all Jewish, most of the people there were Jewish,
but there were also plenty of Christians along with them.
CARROLL: There were a lot of Christian martyrs under the Nazis,
even though obviously there was a context there in Germany of traditional
Christian anti-Semitism, but Nazi anti-Semitism was something fundamentally
ROBERTSON: How do you see this going in America, especially
in the media, because the so-called elites are - in your book Christianity
on Trial you say it's bigotry. What can we do to combat it? Of course,
the truth is the best weapon, but it seems to be having a hard time
getting through the miasma.
CARROLL: The truth is the best weapon and that's one of the
reasons why we wrote this book, because I think this conflict is going
to continue and I think that people need to arm themselves with information.
They can't just say, "Oh, yes, Christians have done all of these
bad things." And some of these things Christians have done, but
they need to know the other side of the ledger so they don't feel defensive
and beleaguered by the militant secular forces in this society.
ROBERTSON: And they seem to amount to a small percentage. They
may have a big megaphone but they're not that many in number.
CARROLL: It is not clear to me how large they are. But it is
clear that still the vast majority of Americans consider themselves
people of faith.
ROBERTSON: Ladies and gentlemen, Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett,
it's a tremendous book, Christianity on Trial. It is the kind
of thing you need to get into, it takes some understanding. It goes
all the way through the charges against Christianity and it's a good
book on Christian apologetics. It is available I presume at Christian
CARROLL: It is available at Christian bookstores, regular bookstores,
Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com.
ROBERTSON: And you can get it on our website, too - Christianity
on Trial. Thank you very much.
CARROLL: Thank you, my pleasure.