Monday, February 11, 2008

Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love

Below is an article of interest by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 02-03-08, concerning the view liberals have of non-liberal Christians. If you are a member of the Christian Left (yes, there is such a thing-think of the loudmouths who claim to speak for mainline denominations but really don’t, such as Winkler of the United Methodist Church), you are pretty much accepted by liberals because you are perceived as “one of them”. However, if you are on the Christian Right, you are the enemy, to be vilified, mocked, or just dismissed as some fundamentalist nutcase. So much for tolerance. That’s why I like what this article has to say – a breath of fresh air.

At a New York or Los Angeles cocktail party, few would dare make a pejorative comment about Barack Obama’s race or Hillary Clinton’s sex. Yet it would be easy to get away with deriding Mike Huckabee’s religious faith. Liberals believe deeply in tolerance, and over the last century have led the battles against prejudices of all kinds, but we have a blind spot about Christian evangelicals. They constitute one of the few minorities that, on the American coasts or university campuses, it remains fashionable to mock. Scorning people for their faith is intrinsically repugnant, and in this case it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of how far evangelicals have moved over the last decade.

Today, conservative Christian churches do superb work on poverty, AIDS, sex trafficking, climate change, prison abuses, malaria, and genocide in Darfur. Bleeding-heart liberals could accomplish far more if they reached out to build common cause with bleeding-heart conservatives. And the Democratic presidential candidate (particularly if it’s Mr. Obama, to whom evangelicals have been startlingly receptive) has a real chance this year of winning large numbers of evangelical voters.

“Evangelicals are going to vote this year in part on climate change, on Darfur, on poverty,” said Jim Wallis, the author of a new book, “The Great Awakening,” which argues that the age of the religious right has passed and that issues of social justice are rising to the top of the agenda. Mr. Wallis says that about half of white evangelical votes will be in play this year. A recent CBS News poll found that the single issue that white evangelicals most believed they should be involved in was fighting poverty. The traditional issue of abortion was a distant second, and genocide was third.

Quoted in the “Media Roundup,” an e-newsletter published by the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, 02/04/08.

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