Evangelicals are the Golden Retrievers of Christendom. That’s making it a bit too easy-going, so I have tried on German Shepherds, Boxers, and a dozen other breeds to represent us, but I keep coming back to the retrievers. The analogy of a mixed breed with a lot of retriever in it might work, because we evangelicals often do bring in elements from all around the rest of the Christian world – and perhaps if you want to capture that dark side you could imagine that the mix-in breeds are from the more difficult lines.
Goldens aren’t stupid dogs but sometimes they look it. They are friendly – usually too friendly and trying to engage with you when you’d rather be doing something else. Fundamentalists are more like those little yippy dogs that are irritable. One doesn’t think of them first when one thinks of dangerous dogs, but when you encounter one that is angry, you suddenly remember they have sharp teeth and are not easily calmed. Plus, if you live with small dogs you are reminded that they bark a lot over very little.
Retrievers think of themselves as entirely innocent, not having any of the problems of other dogs at all. C’mon, don’t you want to play? Don’t you want to pet me? Don’t you want to throw me a stick? Let’s do things my way, you’ll love it. Why are you so mad at me? And they never quit. Okay, I admit it. I did chase squirrels. And a cat. I had forgotten that. Yes, it was me who took food off the table when you weren’t looking. And chewed the chair leg. Are you done yelling at me now? Why do you keep saying I’m a bad dog? I’m not a bad dog, I’m a wonderful dog.
When you grasp this, you will grasp why Evangelicals are puzzled by everyone’s reaction to them. We don’t chase squirrels. Well, okay, we do, but not so many. And we don’t bark except to protect the house. And to say hi. Was I barking just now? No, I wasn’t really. I’m just happy you’re here. Evangelicals think the world would be better if everyone was like them.