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The New Evangelicals

Though public support for both major political parties is very low, one group of voters is usually exempted from this malaise: evangelicals. It’s assumed that at least these “values voters” are getting what they want. But we should look more carefully.

A sizable portion of evangelicals have left the right, so to speak, in what the theologian Scot McKnight called “the biggest change in the evangelical movement,” nothing less than the emergence of “a new kind of Christian social conscience.” These new evangelicals focus on economic justice, environmental protection and immigration reform — not exactly Republican strong points. The religious right remains a potent political force, but where once there was the appearance of an evangelical movement that sang out in one voice, there is now a robust polyphony.

In numbers, that means Christians who don’t think of themselves as part of the religious right come to roughly 24 percent of the population, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Subtract the Catholic left and you’ve got some 19 percent of the population distributed among the ‘60s evangelical left; younger, emergent progressive churches; and red-letter Christians, who focus on Jesus’ words in scripture (printed in red) and who lean towards progressive activism. Others have quietly broadened the activism associated with the religious right.

New Evangelical Manifesto

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