Who Speaks for America’s Evangelicals?

Frank Pastore
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Posted: Aug 12, 2007 12:01 AM
Who Speaks for America’s Evangelicals?

Liberals are predictably doing everything they can to win in 2008. Everyone knows a key part of their strategy is to “get religion” and trick as many Christians as possible to care less about the Bible, abortion and gay marriage and more about liberal policy positions: secularism, socialism, bigger government and higher taxes.

This includes spinning conservative Christians with the yarn that their brand of Christianity is now obsolete and that “everyone important” is buying the “new and improved” progressive, emergent, sensitive, conscientious brand of Christianity that these new liberal Christians are selling. And, in order to become “cool, popular and relevant” once again, old Christian dogs will have to learn new liberal tricks.

Nonsense.

Conservative Christians aren’t becoming liberals.

Believers aren’t becoming unbelievers.

And solid, Bible-teaching pastors are as popular as ever — they believe as I do that, “If you teach it (i.e., the Bible) they will come.”

It’s only because liberals still dominate the majority of print and broadcast outlets that you’re hearing so loud and so often about the “new and improved” evangelicals. But don’t believe the marketing/PR hype that conservative Christianity is somehow being overtaken by a kinder, gentler, more liberal and more tolerant expression of the faith.

It’s just not true.

You’ve got to see through their ad campaign.

Remember, it’s never about theology or religion for liberals: “It’s the politics, stupid!”

Take, for example, last week’s opinion piece in USA Today by Mark Pinsky, author of A Jew Among the Evangelicals: A Guide for the Perplexed, and a self-confessed “left-wing Jew” (he says so here). The piece is entitled, “Who Speaks for America’s Evangelicals?”

Pinsky, with obvious bias, asks,

Who speaks for America’s evangelicals? Will it continue to be bombastic, GOP-leaning, Southern preachers, such as the late Jerry Falwell, and strident, hard-line broadcasters such as Pat Robertson and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson? I don’t think so.

He then gives his preferences,

The emerging face and voice of American evangelicalism is that of a pragmatic, politically sophisticated, pastor of a middle class megachurch. A younger generation of ministers such as Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life”; Bill Hybels, of the pioneering Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago; T.D. Jakes, the African-American pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, as well as a music and movie producer; and Frank Page, the re-elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention … Or, this younger generation might be personified by someone like Joel Hunter, of Northland Church, just outside Orlando.

And then he tells you what all liberals are hoping for,

Pastors like Hunter, Warren, Hybels, Jakes and Page have a shared vision. They want to change the tone of the national political debate, making it less confrontational, and to open the movement to tactical coalitions with mainline Christian denominations, other faiths and even liberal secularists on a broad spectrum of issues.

And then he echoes the Religious Left’s talking points,

[T]he younger pastors want to broaden the evangelical agenda beyond what Hunter calls “below the belt” issues linked to sexuality. For them, people of faith should engage issues such as AIDS, Darfur, economic justice, war and peace, prison reform and human trafficking. For Dobson and Robertson, this represents an unacceptable dilution of focus and a squandering of political capital.

See? It’s all about the politics.

If you’re still not convinced Pinsky’s piece is all about helping the Democrats win in ’08, consider the last three sentences of his piece. They tell you all you need to know. I’ve entitled them the Hope, the Strategy, and the Spin.

• The Hope – “All of this matters because in the swing states and districts in the Sunbelt where control of the White House and Congress are decided, even a slight shift in the allegiance of white evangelical voters can turn the outcome from red to blue.”

• The Strategy – “By the same token, by putting a more moderate face on evangelicalism, these younger leaders might inoculate religious candidates from the charge that all Christians are flame-throwing fundamentalists, thus making them more palatable to independents and even blue-state voters.”

• The Spin – “As Joel Hunter says, the evangelical vote is now a ‘jump ball.’”

See, it is all about the politics.

And, as far as answering the question, “Who speaks for America’s evangelicals?” I asked listeners to my daily radio show on KKLA to name the Christian leaders they most respect.

It was no surprise to me the most common names were the national ministries we carry on our station. Why? Because these guys know how to teach the Bible.

For Christians, what’s most important isn’t the politics, it’s the Text.

The leaders that were named? Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Charles Stanley and Alistair Begg.

And the number one answer, far and away, to the question, “Who is the most respected Christian leader today?”

James Dobson.

So, when you ask “Who Speaks for America’s Evangelicals?” you’ve got to insert the word “conservative.” James Dobson is still the person who speaks for the majority of America’s “conservative” evangelicals.

And, as for who speaks for America’s “liberal” evangelicals?

It really doesn’t matter much, because at that point it’s not about the Text, “it’s all about the politics, stupid.”