Article excerpt

LIST-MAKING IS a peculiarly modern obsession. The top 20 basketball teams. The top tell best sellers. Ten ways to trim your thighs. Time magazine recently listed its choices for the 25 most influential evangelicals. The article seemed designed partly to let readers know about some of the folks who have political clout in the world of the Religious Right and perhaps some influence at the White House. The importance of Bush's speechwriter Michael Gerson cannot be denied. Richard John Neuhaus doubtless has influence, though to call this Lutheran turned Roman Catholic priest an evangelical seems to stretch the category beyond reason. (Senator Rick Santorum is the other Roman Catholic to make the list.) It was interesting to learn about revisionist historian David Barton, photographed in cowboy hat and star-spangled denim shirt, who seeks to undo the "myth" of separation of church and state, and who is cochair of the Texas Republican Party and a close friend of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. And it is important to know about Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, who fund much of the activity of the Religious Bight. Hispanic Pentecostal pastor Luis Cortes is a bridge for Bush to Latin voters. David Coe, host of the presidential prayer breakfast, is cited as the "stealth Billy Graham."

Others names were predictable: James Dobson, Billy and Franklin Graham, Charles Colson, Tim and Beverly LaHaye. A few figures named would show up on a "most influential" list among mainline Protestants too: Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, and Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago and pioneer of the "seeker" service. …


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