In a recent Fresh Air episode, Terry Gross interviewed Rachel Tabanchnick, a journalist who has done some diligent research on the New Apostolic Reformation–the group who sponsored Rick Perry’s recent prayer day and a movement that Sarah Palin has apparently been part of. Listen to the episode here.
As is clear from other posts I have written here, I have an interest in civil religion and the construction of a national faith. So hearing Benefiel single our the Statue of Liberty for being a symbol that detracts from worship of a “true” faith is not too surprising. Likewise, his claim that freedom derives only from God and through Jesus is also not unusual, as Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals (until relatively recently) had been leveling similar critiques about secular society for quite some time.
I am curious, though, to hear if others have seen a critique of the NAR from Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals. Watchers of the Christian Right have certainly contributed to the heightened scrutiny of this group, but have Jim Wallis or Stanley Hauerwas and those among evangelical and fundamentalist Christian intellectuals–loosely defined–weighed in? I ask this because the NAR strikes me as another version of Pat Robertson’s army from the 1988 primary season and perhaps Christian intellectuals will have a response ready this time. And second, it seems to me that the intent of NAR to unify the disparate denominations of Protestants into a single church might not appeal to megachurch leaders but sounds similar to some of the critiques Haerwas has made about liberal and conservative Protestantism.
What do others make of this movement and its relationship to Christian intellectuals?