So it is nice to see this high school debating tactic demolished every once and a while. The latest to shoot these barrel-dwelling fish is David French, who writes:
I chuckle when I hear the common critique of the religious and secular left: "Evangelicals are obsessed with gays and abortion." The criticism is so common that it's often internalized and adopted by the church itself. Similar to our reaction to another leftist refrain ("Christians care about children until they're born"), we act as if the critique is legitimate-as if it's the result of some kind of empirical, good-faith analysis of Christian action in America. But it's not. It is, pure and simple, a talking point.If you care about poor people in need, you had better hope that the Evangelical Left fails to entice many conservative Evangelicals down the path of liberal Protestantism. You had better hope that the number of conservative Evangelicals grows quickly - if you actually want to see the poor get help, that is.
And it's false. Demonstrably false.
What if I told you that American Christians, in fact, are "obsessed" with helping the poorest and weakest members of our society? Would that improve our image? What if I told you that this "obsession" was so obvious as to be demonstrable even to the most hardened skeptic? Would that make you doubt the good faith of the "obsessed with gays and abortion" critique? . . .
We can find part of the answer by looking at the budgets of the largest and most influential Christian organizations. A website called Guidestar publishes the tax filings of most charitable organizations, so register (it's free) and take a tour of Form 990s.
First, you'll notice that Christians do give lots of money to what I'd call "pure" culture war organizations, but not as much as the Left. The largest (by budget) include my employer, the Alliance Defense Fund, and the Family Research Council. Of the pro-life organizations, two of the largest are National Right to Life and Americans United for Life. These organizations raise quite a bit of money-almost $60 million combined. But it's not as much as the leading legal organization on the Left. The ACLU Foundation (which does not include the various state ACLUs) took in $98 million with the national ACLU itself raking in an additional $33 million.
But what about organizations like Focus on the Family? Focus is big, no doubt, with gross receipts exceeding $135 million. But anyone with even a passing familiarity with that organization knows that the vast majority of its efforts are thoroughly divorced from the "gays and abortion" side of the culture wars. Its website and radio show are primarily dedicated to such topics as enriching your marriage, dealing with unruly teens, and reviewing TV shows and movies for their family-friendliness.
How do those numbers stack up with leading Christian anti-poverty charities? Let's look at just three: World Vision, Compassion International, and Samaritan's Purse. Their total annual gross receipts (again, according to most recently available Form 990s) exceed $2.1 billion. The smallest of the three organizations (Samaritan's Purse) has larger gross receipts than every major "pro-family" culture war organization in the United States combined. World Vision, the largest, not only takes in more than $1 billion per year, it also has more than 1,400 employees and 43,000 volunteers.