Ratted out by the Huffington Post, no less. In her exposé there, Valerie Tarico — a self-described “former fundie” — shows politicians the ropes on “speaking evangelicalese.” Tarico urges politicians to do things like:
1. Refer to “my heart”:
a. Evangelical examples: asking Jesus into your heart, God is speaking to your heart.
b. Secular use: I feel in my heart, I know in my heart no matter how hard it may be, we need to provide basic medical care for every child in this country.
2. Say you felt “called” or were led to do something.
a. Evangelical examples: God called me to move to Seattle, to take up the ministry, to put John 3:16 on my eyeblacks. Richard Dawkins and I have been brought together.
b. Secular use: I felt called to take up the cause of health care for all.
3. Use the word “personal” liberally.
a. Evangelical example: I needed a personal faith. You aren’t really a Christian until you have a personal relationship with Jesus.
b. Secular use: I have a personal relationship to the people in that nursing home.
Tarico does warn those seeking to woo evangelicals not to fake it, but still implies that certain key phrases can cause evangelicals to warm or cool to a politician.
What intrigues me about this is not that playbooks like this exist — I’ve been around politics long enough to know that there isn’t a target audience out there which hasn’t been neatly categorized, packaged, and labeled for presentation. One could write a similar list for speaking to liberal environmentalists, sexual libertines, or blue collar union workers. What’s revealing here (and equally disheartening) is the depersonalized view of people that comes with such mass-culture thinking.
E pluribus unum rules the day. In this instance, evangelicals are viewed as little more than a voting bloc to be swayed — easier to deal with en masse than as individuals. Sadly, such thinking infects the whole of the political spectrum, and it’s far from the approach Jesus took when he looked upon the crowds. That we would all view others more as “sheep without a shepherd” than sheeple…