Friday, February 29, 2008

Evangelical Politics Looking Different

For a time David Kuo headed President Bush's White House effort on faith-based initiatives. He sees a shift underway in the politics of evangelicals. They are becoming more progressive and less political:
...For all the talk about evangelicals moving to the Democratic Party, early evidence of this is scarce. Poll after poll has shown extreme evangelical distaste for Clinton, and there is scant statistical evidence to suggest that evangelicals are rushing to Obama.

Times may be changing, however, with younger evangelicals leading the way across the aisle. When a recent poll by Relevant, a magazine targeting evangelicals under 25, asked respondents who they believed "Jesus would vote for," a plurality said Obama. They also said they thought that Bill Clinton was a better president than George W. Bush has been and that illegal immigration was the most important issue facing the next president. "Young Christians simply don't seem to feel a connection to the traditional religious right," says Cameron Strang, the magazine's founder and publisher. "Many differ strongly on domestic policy issues - namely issues that affect the poor - and are dissatisfied with America's foreign policy and the war."

The new movement is likely to be more spiritually cautious and politically shrewd. As Bush's presidency has foundered, evangelicals have started to take spiritual stock of their passionate support for their evangelical pastor in chief. First came the retreat. A review of Federal Elections Commission data from last fall revealed that only 30 percent of those who gave campaign money in 2004 contributed this time around to the campaigns of McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani or any of the other GOP candidates.

More significantly, preachers galore started telling their congregations to just say no to partisan politics. At the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., the pastor who succeeded the uber-political Ted Haggard has declared his pulpit "politics free." In Minnesota, evangelical mega-church pastor Greg Boyd preaches that the radical life of a Christian doesn't include politics. Meanwhile, evangelicalism's biggest star, Rick Warren, is decidedly absent from domestic politics, preferring to spend his time working on HIV/AIDS in Africa.

1 comment:

ProgressiveChurchlady said...

Well, this is good news for the politically progressive folks!

When clergy, like Boyd, talk about Christianity being apolitical I just scratch my head and ask myself, "What version of Jesus' life are they reading anyway?"

As distasteful as politics are at times--most times--it just seems that we are compelled to participate in some fashion. Although we might want religion out of our politics, it is hard to keep politics out of our religion if you consider yourself a Christian (inthe sense that Jesus is a role model and his life helping you to make your life choices).