Focus on the Family President Jim Daly has impressed at least one liberal journalist with his confessions, generosity and hospitality. In researching his new book on evangelicals, religion and culture writer Tom Krattenmaker traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., and spent some time at the FOTF headquarters. The result of the visit was a book challenging his fellow progressives to stop stereotyping evangelicals and realize that they can work together for the common good.
In The Evangelicals You Don't Know: Introducing the Next Generation of Evangelicals (2013), Krattenmaker reports on an angst felt among many evangelicals regarding how they have engaged with their culture.
"As Christians, we're not doing something right," he quotes a young evangelical in the opening chapter.
The book is not just for evangelicals, though. Krattenmaker also has a message for many of his fellow progressives who have looked upon evangelicals with disdain.
While researching for the book, Krattenmaker wrote in an article about the book for The Huffington Post, he "felt moved by the confessions and apologies" he heard while spending time at Focus.
"My call to progressives and secularists: In our understanding of evangelical Christians, it's time for an exercise in disaggregation. Not all evangelicals are the same; not everything they do, and believe, amounts to the harmful nonsense we tend to associate with them. Many of the organizations and people we stereotype are changing," Krattenmaker wrote.
Writing for the "On Religion" series for USA Today, Krattenmaker has been a long time critic of politically conservative Christians. His first book was, Onward Christian Athletes: Turning Ballparks into Pulpits and Players into Preachers.
When he first met Daly, Krattenmaker said, he "found him disarmingly likeable." He was also moved by Daly's confession's that evangelicals had, for too long, politicized their faith and worshiped the "idol of political power."
After getting to know Daly, Krattenmaker had some confessions of his own. "It was wrong," he told Daly, that many on his side "continued to demonize Focus as all bad and only bad."
Krattenmaker adds a personal apology to Focus in the article as well. His earlier writings and public comments about Focus "tended to ignore the non-controversial and helpful work Focus has long undertaken," he admitted. "For that I am sorry."
Krattenmaker also wrote that he agreed with the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision to remove Focus from its list of "hate groups." And, even though he disagrees with Focus' position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, he appreciates their efforts to treat gay people with respect and kindness.