Can Evangelicals be Democrats?


Nine evangelical Christian leaders sent a letter last week urging pollsters to ask Democratic voters — not just Republicans — if they consider themselves to be evangelical believers.
According to Religion News Service, the signees were: Jim Wallis of Sojourners, David Neff of Christianity Today, Joel Hunter, Randy Brinson, Randall Balmer, Glen Stassen, Paul Corts, David Gushee and Brian McClaren.
Gushee, Stassen and Corts, at least, are Baptists who signed the letter asking the National Election Pool (that provides data to major news outlets) to broaden their questioning to both parties.
According to the article, these Christian leaders claimed recent polls “have pigeonholed evangelicals, reinforcing the false stereotype that we are beholden to one political party.”
Of course, the challenge beyond polling practices is the difficult task of defining an evangelical. Many within the Religious Right would discount some or all of the signees of this letter because they are not fundamentalists.
However, it would be interesting to see the bigger picture of voting patterns throughout the presidential election process, especially during this early stage with such an oddly-religious collection of candidates.
These letter-writing leaders are right to point out that not asking voters in both parties to self-identify as evangelical Christians has “prevented the public from seeing the full picture of how the bipartisan courtship of evangelical voters affected the outcome of the first contest of the 2008 campaign and perpetuated the misperception that all evangelical Christians are Republicans.”

5 Comments

  1. My question has always been, ‘How can a Christian even consider being a Republican?’

  2. A man much wiser than I (Dr. Shurden, I think) once said something to the affect of “I certainly hope that the umbrella of Christianity, as well as Baptist, is large enough to cover all kinds of people from both political parties.”

    I’d tend to hope that the same would be true for the title ‘evangelical’ as well.

    Personally, I tend to agree more with the Republicans in their economic theories but with the Democrats with their attention to the less fortunate. Unfortunately, I’m too cynical to support either party because they both seem to be filled with politicians. Therefore, I shun the labels of “democrat” and “republican” and I proudly display the badge of “politically apathetic”.

    I know that many do not share my views, but I have this feeling that there are more important things I could be doing with my time than arguing about which candidate will represent me the best. I think that they truly represent only themselves.

  3. Thanks for the feedback. I think the leaders made their point well with the stated concern about being “pigeonholed.”
    When Christian allegiance is exclusively tied to any political figure, party or cause, it is weakened.
    I think the fact that conservative Christian leaders (even if just among the Republican candidates) are divided during this current campaign is healthy.
    Of course, the voter guides will be forthcoming at some point — telling us God’s position on everything from building a fence around Mexico to defense spending.

  4. Were I a tad brighter and a good bit younger, would embark on several dissertations on the ambience of the matter you raise in this blog.
    When can you and Buddy Shurden bring Balmer and Kimball and Charles Marsh to talk about all these matters framed in Garry Wills?
    I hope before the Fall Presidential election.
    I have given Rob Marus an assignment at Bl.com. I hope you will check it out immediately and be as of much assistance as you can.
    And at that board check on how the Paige Patterson Center for Richard Land Cultural Studies is going.

  5. There was a recent article by Jim Wallis about the “fall of the Religious Right.”

    As a young evangelical, and a student of Theology, I can see a shift among my peers. My generation of Evangelicals is growing restless with our Republican Predestination, and have started to embrace new causes.

    We no longer hang our hats on simply Gay marriage and Abortion, but seek consistency, opposing torture and genocide, just as fiercely.

    Some people write off this shift as the young being infected with those “liberal” agendas, but I would say it is born out of scripture and our love of Christ and neighbor.

    As a former Republican, and current moderate, I would like to see evangelicals untethered from any party and given the right to see each party from what they are, morally ambiguous.

    Each party has members who fight for things we believe in, and members that make our skin crawl. I think my generation, the one of invisible children videos, creation care activists, and consistent pro-life activist will not last long as elephants,
    but may not be excited donkeys any time soon either.

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