April 14, 2008
The Whole Package
I remember working in the 2004 Election about as fondly as those who attend boot camp. It was a conservative state, in a conservative district, and more than once a day (when I was in the field with the candidate) I encounter someone asking me where the candidate was on "abortion." Jesus Christ! I wanted to shout. Don't you people get it? Hoping desperately that people of faith would look beyond the single issue and see the whole package. Guess what. This year, younger people of faith actually do get it.
This month's cover story in C&E Magazine is about the "new evangelical divide."
"It is generational; the way we view the Gospel is more well-rounded-or we see it that way," laughs Ginny, 33. . . But pro-life for us is more holistic, more all of life and all of the environment-endangered species, and not just the human species."
I feel like progressives of faith have been trying to advocate this kind of thinking since they were hoodwinked in the 2004 election by fear and clever marketing on behalf of power-hungry pastors. To put it in perspective check out these charts from a CBS poll done right after November 7, 2004.
"In the years since, white evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29 "have become increasingly dissatisfied with Bush and are moving away from the GOP," according to Cox. Just since 2005, Republican affiliation among young evangelicals has slipped from 55 percent to 40 percent..."
The most beneficial of those numbers are issues specifically. Values voters who look outside the single issue box are now seen fighting causes previously ignored by these groups a few years ago. For example, as part of a series of blogs, Bid for Green has begun posting Unexplored Connections in dealing with the climate crisis.
C&E sees similar trends.
"Another factor is that so many Christian college students have been changed by their experience helping victims of poverty and natural catastrophe. For some, it was volunteering in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. For others, it was a spring break trip to a Third World country, now a common rite of passage for evangelical youth."
On campuses that trend continues. More and more students are becoming active in community outreach, causes that give back, preserve, clean up, or help those who need it most. In just a few short years we've managed to create a culture of compassion beyond the marketing ploys and church focus groups.
"On Christian campuses, academics have for a decade been moving away from "the either/or mindset of either fundamentalism or the Social Gospel," says Lisa Sharon Harper, author of the forthcoming Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican...or Democrat. But it's just in the last couple of years, she says, that "evangelicals en masse are beginning to realize that the Good News encompasses both." For her book, Harper interviewed 67 evangelical leaders across the country and found that "almost everybody said yes, absolutely there is a shift happening that's prevalent in this new generation."
I like the conversations now. Enhancing compassion and moving beyond "tolerance" instead to appreciation is something I find the Millennial Generation is more eager to embrace. And I say Amen to that!