The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

“Evangelicals … deserting the religious right in droves”

with 5 comments

An intriguing article from the Baltimore Sun by Thomas Schaller details a sea change in American politics. Do you think this could represent a renewal of emphasis on developing character and passions like those of Jesus (previously eclipsed by 20th century zeal for doctrinal and political orthodoxy)?

clipped from
“Evangelicals – especially the new generation of pastors and young people – are deserting the religious right in droves,” wrote Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics, in a February commentary in Time. “The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper, engaging issues like poverty and economic justice, global warming, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur and the ethics of the war in Iraq.”
For example, somebody should alert the Republican presidential aspirants to the declaration issued this spring by a coalition of top evangelicals that renounces “torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees” and calls for the United States to embrace the Geneva Conventions. During last month’s South Carolina debate, with the notable exception of Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP candidates tried to out-macho each other on the treatment of detainees…. Mitt Romney boasted that he’d like to “double Guantanamo,”

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Written by Monte

June 23, 2007 at 12:53 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Perhaps you hit the nail on the head when you characterize politics as “individualistic, bland, and uncaring.” Whatever Jesus may be, caring for the weakest is clearly at the head of his agenda; you have helped me see that more clearly than ever, and I am grateful. His law is love – surely a “Christian” influence on anything, politics included, can be no less.
    Much respect,


    July 2, 2007 at 3:49 pm

  2. I’m delighted that this is the case! I’d have to disagree with Jason – I think that the Kingdom Jesus preached is way, way left. The closest vision is Marx’s Communist utopia – he just didn’t have any way of dealing with sin, and therefore couldn’t get from “here” to “there”. That’s where conversiona nd the Spirit come in, which is why I’m so pleased to see the evangelicals realising this.

    Jesus is radically left-wing. He doesn’t fit our models perfectly, but there’s no way that his vision can be equated with anything right-wing.

    For me, the problem with living in the UK post-Thatcher is that we have no serious left-wing politics. Everything is clustered around the centre – individualistic, bland and uncaring. It’s about spin and vote-garnering, rather than laying out a real vision of an egalitarian, compassionate society with a real sense of collective caring for one another.

    But then, I’m what would be called (in South Africa) a “Radical Evangelical” – an evangelical liberationist. Having said that, I’ve found the equation of evangelical with right-wing has pushed me firmly in a post-evangelical direction. Hey – maybe it’s really just about becoming more biblical??? How’s that for a radical idea???


    July 1, 2007 at 6:02 pm

  3. Thanks, ClapSo and Jason. ClapSo, it’s significant that you’ve noticed it from your position. For me, it was reading the Jesus stories and watching his delicious radicalism that attracted me to Christianity in the first place thirty years ago. I took a detour into church stuff, but gradually that old attraction has worked and worked to draw me away from religion and back into, as a Kempis would say, “the imitation of Christ.” And I’m hoping this is spreading around, causing a rather dramatic re-evaluation of previously under- questioned militarism. Hoping, hoping, hoping!

    Jason, I wonder if lazy journalism is quite the issue, at least around here. In the US, politics was strongly influenced, for a time, by a mass of evangelicals that were attracted by rightwing politics. I understand this didn’t happen much in other countries. I think it has to do with the close cultural connection between US religion and a fading modernism that has masqueraded as Christianity itself. It certainly seems to be breaking up, and now will require some discipline for journalists; guessing where followers of Christ may show up in politics could become much more issue-related, and less generically left or right.
    Thanks a lot for your comments!


    June 25, 2007 at 2:24 pm

  4. From this distance we can never understand why Christian=rightwing. It shouldn’t equate to right or left – that is old school lazy thinking by journalists.


    June 25, 2007 at 1:14 am

  5. Yes, I have seen just this trend in local Christian groups. It is wonderful that many of these groups are returning to more traditional roles such as helping the poor and sick. As a non-christian, I have watched with horror as many churches here in the US seemed to be moving toward holy war. As always, very good take on the issues Monte.

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer


    June 23, 2007 at 2:07 pm

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