Evangelicals in the 21st century

For the past few decades, evangelicals have been so closely identified by secular society with the Republican Right in American Politics that the term “evangelical” has come to mean just another political special interest voting block. But things are changing, and to a degree that many outside of Evangelical circles would find surprising. Young Evangelicals are more likely to hold “progressive” stances on political issues, to support “green” issues and be more open to same-sex relationships than their elders.

The New York Times has a piece on their political blog explaining how a shift in religious outlook is creating changes in voter behaviors. Evangelicals are moving away from many of the positions that the people who do politics in the States imagine they hold.

From the article

“In the 20th century, evangelicals became associated with the right, especially after World War II. So why another shift in the 21st? One reason is generational, with idealistic youth rejecting the politics of their parents. Another is that views about sex, the environment and global connectedness have shifted nationwide, including among evangelicals. In their self-critique, “Unchristian,” evangelicals David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons title their chapters: Hypocritical, Sheltered, Too Political, Judgmental and Antihomosexual. Ouch.

In a group that takes ethics seriously, still another reason for the change is new thinking about what matters most. The cavalier militarism and the justification of torture during the Bush years, along with the strident in-group-ism of the last four decades, prodded many evangelicals to re-examine themselves and their actions. George W. Bush may have fractured the Christian coalition that elected him.

Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, describes the movement as a “slow earthquake.” A developing grassroots movement won’t have one overarching policy position, but the new evangelical concerns collect in a few areas. One is an embrace of church-state separation. “Let it be known unequivocally,” declared the 2008 Evangelical Manifesto, signed by over 70 evangelical leaders, “we are firmly opposed to the imposition of theocracy on our pluralistic society.””

Much more here.

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