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Tony Campolo
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Tony Campolo, Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.

Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo

Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education


Tony Campolo is an ordained Baptist minister. He is the founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. He preaches an evangelical message, while also paying equal attention to social issues.

His stand on various social issues, including women in ministry, homosexuality, and the Israel/Palestine problem, is often controversial - not in the last place because of the way he sometimes presents his ideas (see Articles).

However, countless Christians appreciate the fact the Campolo practices his faith instead of just talk about it...

[Laura Sheahen:] It's a common perception that evangelical Christians are conservative on issues like gay marriage, Islam, and womenís roles. Is this the case?

[Tony Campolo:] Well, there's a difference between evangelical and being a part of the Religious Right. A significant proportion of the evangelical community is part of the Religious Right. My purpose in writing the book was to communicate loud and clear that I felt that evangelical Christianity had been hijacked.

When did it become anti-feminist? When did evangelical Christianity become anti-gay? When did it become supportive of capital punishment? Pro-war? When did it become so negative towards other religious groups?

There are a group of evangelicals who would say, "Wait a minute. Weíre evangelicals but we want to respect Islam. We donít want to call its prophet evil. We donít want to call the religion evil. We believe that we have got to learn to live in the same world with our Islamic brothers and sisters and we want to be friends. We do not want to be in some kind of a holy war."

We also raise some very serious questions about the support of policies that have been detrimental to the poor. When I read the voter guide of a group like the Christian Coalition, I find that they are allied with the National Rifle Association and are very anxious to protect the rights of people to buy even assault weapons. But they donít seem to be very supportive of concerns for the poor, concerns for trade relations, for canceling Third World debts.

In short, thereís a whole group of issues that are being ignored by the Religious Right and that warrant the attention of Bible-believing Christians. Another one would be the environment.

I donít think that John Kerry is the Messiah or the Democratic Party is the answer, but I donít like the evangelical community blessing the Republican Party as some kind of God-ordained instrument for solving the worldís problems. The Republican Party needs to be called into accountability even as the Democratic Party needs to be called into accountability. So itís that double-edged sword that Iím trying to wield.

The Rev. Tony Campolo is a religious leader who defies religious stereotypes.

An educator, evangelist, author, and high-profile counselor to President Clinton, Dr. Campolo is part fire-and-brimstone preacher, part cerebral social activist.

"What creates a certain anomaly for me is that I am thoroughly evangelical and preach a Billy Graham message of being converted, which is often ignored in mainstream churches," said Dr. Campolo, who will speak at St. Markís Lutheran Church in Toledo Aug. 9.

"Mainline churches have done a good job of articulating social justice issues, but have not done as effective a job in bringing individuals to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord," he said in a recent interview.

Dr. Campolo, an ordained Baptist minister with a doctorate in sociology from Temple University, is working hard to build bridges over any gulfs that may exist between the two branches of Christianity.

While his blend of fundamentalism and intellectualism may seem unwieldy to some, Dr. Campoloís ministries are based on the simple premise that religious conversion leads a person to seek social justice.

"Conversion is not basically so that you can go to heaven when you die," he said. "The purpose of conversion is so that you can go through the kind of personal transformation that will enable you to be a different kind of a person here on Earth and to become an instrument of God for changing the world."

EAPE, which he founded more than 30 years ago, exemplifies Dr. Campoloís dualistic approach. The organization has established programs in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Africa, Canada, and the United States, where it teaches reading, writing, and arithmetic to children and helps poverty-stricken adults open and operate small businesses.

"We believe that the programs we sponsor and the education that we do in economic development only works because it is faith-based," he said. "Any economic development program that does not facilitate a change of consciousness, which I believe is what spiritual conversion is really all about, is going to fail."

Despite his lack of interest in the governmentís faith-based initiative grants, Dr. Campolo believes there are cases where separation of church and state is necessary.

He said, for example, that the Ten Commandments should not be displayed in public courtrooms.

"I believe that when the Ten Commandments were written, there is a specific reference to the God of the Jews and Christians, and, perhaps depending on whether they want it to be this way, also the God of the Muslims. At any rate, itís a specific God weíre talking about.

"In a pluralistic society, you cannot say to people who worship another God, letís say people who are Hindu, or letís say people who are Buddhist, that you have to put our God above your God when you come into the courtroom, which is what the first of the Ten Commandments says [ĎYou shall have no other gods before me.í]

"I think that is religious oppression," Dr. Campolo said.

Some commandments dealing with morality, such as those that forbid lying and stealing, apply to all humanity, but the ones that speak of covetousness treat women "more like property than persons," he said, which he personally finds unacceptable. (In the New Testament, he added, Jesus and Apostle Paul show that men and women should be treated as equals.)

On the subject of homosexual marriages, Dr. Campolo said he believes gays and lesbians should be guaranteed the same civil rights as any citizen.

"I donít think that binding commitments that gay people make to each other should be called marriages, because that distorts historically what marriage meant," he said. "But I think gay people should be entitled to the same legal rights and the same opportunities that people in all American society are entitled to."

As long as homosexuals pay taxes, he said, they should receive the same employment, educational, and legal rights as heterosexuals.

"Basically I would argue that in the United States, we have to be careful that the church upholds its traditional biblical values, but at the same time guarantees the rights of people who differ from the church. A democracy is not a society where the majority rules; a democracy is a society in which it is safe to be in the minority."

Dr. Campolo said his views have not been well-received in many church circles.

"Iím under a great deal of fire," he said.
Source: Evangelist seeks social justice, preaches conversion Toledo Blade, Aug. 2, 2003

Tony Campolo, one of American Christianity's most well-known evangelists, is doing the Gospel of Jesus Christ a grave disservice with misinformation, unscriptural political analysis and dangerously bad theology.

In a speech in Canada recently, Campolo gave a rambling presentation explaining the absolute necessity of creating a new Palestinian state to win over the Muslim world.

If Campolo really believes what he said in this speech, he is ignorant of history. If he doesn't believe what he said, he is a politically motivated liar misusing the Gospel to further a hopelessly evil political agenda.

You decide for yourself.

He claims firstly that the church "has forgotten that there's a group of people called Palestinians. And unless we stand up and speak for justice on behalf of the Palestinians, we are going to lose the missionary struggle in the next hundred years."

These "Palestinians," Campolo explains, are being suppressed by the Israelis.

He then explains that Israel is a state birthed only in a relentless war of terrorism waged by Jews against British rule after World War I.

"The British were so worn out [by] terrorism over the next 20 years that they wanted out of the mess," he says. "So after World War II, they presented to the United Nations meeting, in New York, a proposal: that the land that hitherto had belonged to people who lived in Palestine was going to be partitioned and made into the state of Israel."

This simplistic statement is so wrong in so many ways I could write 100,000 words refuting it. In fact, I already have. But let me, as an Arab-American Christian, just try to set the record straight in the limited space I have today.
Source: Tony Campolo: Misinformed, bad theology by Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily, Feb. 12, 2003


Christian Campolo: Opposition to women preachers evidence of demonic
Baptist Press, June 27, 2003
Christian Campolo apologizes for 'intemperate' comments on 'those who differ with me' Baptist Press, July 7, 2003
Christian Tony Campolo: Misinformed, bad theology by Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily, Feb. 12, 2003

Secular 'Evangelical Christianity Has Been Hijacked': An Interview with Tony Campolo Speaking out on gays, women and more, a progressive evangelical says 'We ought to get out of the judging business.' Interview by Laura Sheahen.





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Tony Campolo
First posted: July 15, 1998
Last Updated: Aug. 20, 2004
Editor: Anton Hein
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