Unlike most African-American evangelicals, who are politically liberal and form a core constituency of the Democratic Party, white evangelicals, especially in the South, have a more complex relationship to their Democratic past. Some changed their voting habits, but not their registration, while others eventually bolted. After trying to woo them back, many discouraged Democratic politicians concluded that the cause was hopeless. Evangelical is a synonym for right-wing.To read the complete article click here.
The situation on the ground, however, is a good deal more confused. In addition to evangelicals who are convinced Republicans (like George W. Bush) or equally convinced Democrats (like Jimmy Carter), there is a third group harder to describe. Rick Warren, pastor of the 45,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., calls them "reluctant Republicans."
"Reluctant Republicans" are evangelicals who find no welcome in the Democratic Party for pro-life people like them. They are therefore Republicans by default. Yet on a wide range of social issues, these evangelicals hold positions that often find a more natural base of support among Democrats.
"Reluctant Republicans" worry about racial reconciliation in America (starting with but not limited to the churches), about global warming and stewardship of the natural resources of the planet, about the AIDS pandemic (especially in Africa) and the growing problem of AIDS orphans, about world hunger and the breathtaking poverty in which the majority of the world's population lives.
Evangelicals who want to take action on these issues have slowly realized that theological orthodoxy is not at odds with social reform, but demands it. The gospel is about justice as well as about mercy. The old dichotomy that for so long divided a personal gospel from a social one was false from the start and corrupt in its implementation.
Which means that it may be time for non-evangelicals to abandon some cherished assumptions about evangelicals as monolithically right-wing. Evangelicals are too large and diverse and changing a group to be safely reckoned in any party's hip pocket.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Evangelicals Tilting Left?
The following article, Evangelicals Tilting Left?, was in this morning's edition of The Orlando Sentinel. It shares some interesting history on the involvement of evangelicals in issues of social justice and provides an interesting challenge as the Campus Ministry moves forward with "Good News/Good Deeds" proclamation of the gospel. Here's a highlight from David Stienmetz's piece: