Some (especially the younger generation of) Christian Evangelicals are embracing new causes. This makes perfect sense. After all, the old ones have been exhausted and we’re not converting anyone by continuing to have them with ever-increasing shrill tones. Those have reached such a high dB level that we are causing people to have tinnitis. Yes, we still believe in abolishing abortion and we still frown on an unrepentant gay lifestyle, but everybody knows that already, so why do we have to keep harping on it? It’s counterproductive and we come across as fanatical bores, so shuddup about that already! Here is Tom Krattenmaker’s take on it:
This younger wave will not stick to the narrow old script — abortion, gays, the erosion of Christian prerogatives in the public square — that has governed publicly applied evangelicalism since the ’70s.
These modern-day abolitionists, along with growing ranks of faith-fueled activists in the fight against global poverty, disease and other forms of human degradation, might not see themselves as political. Even so, intentionally or not, they could end up changing the meaning of a political movement and idea — “pro life” — that has been at the center of one of the most rancorous political arguments of our time.
Here are some more details about the new conversation, some of which might be a bit troubling to old-school evangelicals:
Also finding room on a more broadly defined “pro-life” movement are poverty, torture, immigration, health care, disease prevention and climate change. With that has come more talk of respecting the humanity of gay men and lesbians and new interest in cooperating with progressives and non-evangelicals (including the new president) on strategies to reduce the incidence of abortion.
“Respecting the humanity” of homosexuals might be code for conceding the gay marriage debate. “Reduc[ing] the incidence of abortion” means no longer insisting that abortion be completely eliminated. Those two issues might be deal killers. Of course, nobody seems to be dealing with the Christian Right right now anyway, so it might be a moot point.
All in all, though, having this conversation makes much more sense than continuing to have the old one. After all, the objective is to bring more people around to our way of thinking, perhaps to save some souls and, as a bonus, win some voters, too! The key to winning the libertarians’ vote will be to show how we can take up these causes without involving the government. The key to winning back the Hispanic vote will be to show that we value them as partners in embracing causes like these, causes with which they naturally tend to gravitate. Add those two groups to the existing base and that sounds like a majority coalition to me.