Pundits, Bellicosity, Publicity, and Christianity
Take Ann Coulter's new book, Godless, which attacks liberalism as a false religion. I have not read the book and probably will not--there are far too many other books clamoring for my attention. Coulter is getting much mileage out of her insults against several 9/11 widows who, Coulter claims, are exploiting their husband's deaths for left-wing political purposes. She spares no insult in describing them as "harpies," etc. You have probably already read the details, and I won't give her more press. Her book is #1 at Amazon.com--a bit higher than Truth Decay.
As a political conservative (but not ideologically so), I agree with some of Coulter's positions. But that is irrelevant. The ends do not justify the means. A nasty comment for a good cause is still nasty and repugnant--as are Coulter's comments about these widows. The widows should not be made immune to criticism simply because they lost their husbands, nor should they be pilloried mercilessly by Coulter or anyone else. Yes, Coulter has a sharp sense of humor, but that, in itself, is no virtue, ethically speaking, however necessary it might be for mass-pundits.
Coulter, who is the closest thing to a "hot babe" the conservatives have in popular culture, shamelessly poses on the cover of her book in a tight, small, black dress, wearing a cross around her neck. She, of course, is not "godless"--she believes in God and wears a cross. Well, Christianity doesn't need that kind of publicity.
In fact, Christianity does not need any publicity at all, as it is commonly understood. The teachings of Jesus (and the rest of the Scripture) should, of course, be taken into the public square. Errors should be refuted and the truth should be commended, but only in ways that honor the heart of the message itself. The Apostle Peter tells us to be ready to give an answer for the hope within us to whoever asks us; but this must be done "with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). We find the Apostle Paul throughout the Book of Acts declaring, explaining, and defending the Gospel with intelligence, love, and tenacity. Even Jesus' prophetic denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees as "hypocrites" in Matthew 23 is followed by his pained lamentation over the sins of his people, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem..." Character must never be sacrificed for publicity, Christianly understood.
Ann Coulter may turn millions of heads, sell millions of books, and be a hot search topic on Google for years to come. She may even be correct in some of her views. Nevertheless, a true follower of Christ will eschew her ethos and take the high road of principled persuasion.