May 16, 2007
Evangelical vote up for grabs
Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR’s resident religion reporter, had a wonderful piece on the air this afternoon that began with the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s death, transitioned into his ruminations that the green movement was “Satan’s attempt to redirect the church’s primary focus,” and then moved into territory not talked about often enough: That many of today’s evangelical Christian are not members of the party of Falwell or Robertson or Dobson. They are, as I like to call them, Reluctant Republicans.
They think abortion is bad and they’re uncomfortable with the thought of gay sex—but, you know, they have this gay friend—and they don’t know what to make of stem cell research because they’re not sure what it is. Also important to them are the environment and issues relating to social justice—hunger, poverty, genocide—of which they see Jesus as the greatest proponent.
I came across this issue at an RNA conference two years ago, shortly after President Bush had been re-elected on the overblown moral values issue. (Polls show that the vaguely bound “moral values” button played as significant a role in voters decisions for those who re-elected Bill Clinton, too.) But the movement away from the hard-line old times is getting stronger.
That’s why Hagerty traveled to Florida, to the Northland Church, a megacenter pastored by Joel Hunter, who was inline to head the Christian Coalition, if he only could have watched the environment rot. What she found was a bunch of Bush-voting Republicans more likely to follow Bono than Pat Boone (no offense to Mr. Boone, who attends The Church on the Way in Van Nuys).