GOP can’t bank on evangelicals anymore

Updated to include link.

It’s a trend that we’ve noted previously as we’ve followed nonconservative evangelical groups and seen reports of this through the Pew Forum, but the Washington Post gave over part of its front page yesterday to put a new face on the changing landscape both for evangelicals and the Republican Party—that of Jonathan Merritt, 25, a Baptist preacher’s son who explains in an interview how he personally has experienced that change:

“I grew up believing an evangelical couldn’t be a Democrat,” said Merritt. “The two were mutually exclusive.”

But in the past year, as the presidential campaign has focused on the country’s problems, Merritt has begun to question the party of his father. There was his recent revelation that “God is green,” a mission trip to orphanages in Brazil that caused him to worry about global poverty, an encounter with a growing strain of politically liberal evangelicalism that has taken off online, and a nagging sense that Bush’s unpopularity has been an embarrassment to the evangelicals who overwhelmingly voted for him.

“When you look at the political party that has traditionally championed poverty, social justice and care for the least of these, it’s not been the Republican Party,” said Merritt, who now considers himself an “independent conservative” and is unsure whom he will vote for in November. “We are to honor the least of these above even ourselves. It’s very difficult to reconcile totally.”

He is part of a growing group of young born-again Christians standing on one of the many generational breaks surfacing in this election cycle. Merritt still shares his parents’ conservative convictions on abortion, a core issue that forged Falwell’s Moral Majority and brought evangelicals firmly into the Republican camp, but he says they are no longer enough for him to claim the Republican Party.

Update: Here’s the link. Oops.

Past Posts