For over thirty years, evangelical leaders have worked tirelessly to mobilize their followers. They have primarily used broadcast media, books, and rallies to change the theology of the modern church. This new theology of involvement has led to policy recommendations and the reengagement of millions in the political process.
The last eight years, the conservative Christian movement has reached the pinnacle of its popularity and influence. In each of the last two elections (2004 and 2006), nearly 60 million evangelical voters charged the polls. They focused on a handful of priorities that pressed the cultural envelope of both thought and communication. To call their efforts successful would be an understatement. In fact, they have begun a quiet revolution that is about to transform politics as we know it.
The evangelical approach of the 20th century was to choose one political party to infiltrate. Based on careful analysis thirty years ago, evangelicals felt that the Republican Party was the most naturally compatible organization for their ideas. Their presence in politics helped to galvanize the fledgling conservative movement, while striking fear in the hearts of their liberal, political enemies. Unfortunately, their major concerns – the sanctity of human life, protection of the nuclear family, and religious liberty – have been misrepresented by their opponents as narrow-minded and petty issues.
The evangelical game plan of the 21st century will involve holding their own among Republicans while proselytizing emerging Democratic leaders as well. In addition to candidate cultivation, the massive media engine of the evangelical community will be focused on defining new moral frontiers for our society. Evangelicals will broaden their agenda to include many moral concerns of the younger generations.
Despite relentless opposition by secular power brokers of both parties, evangelicals will emerge once again as the deciding voting block in 2008. There are at least eight national issues that are begging for clear leadership from evangelical leaders. These issues are:
1. The war in Iraq
2. Moral response to terrorism
3. International relief efforts
4. Immigration reform
5. Rebuilding New Orleans and Mississippi
6. Character based education reform
7. Environmental policy reform
8. Health care reform
Let’s discuss each of these issues very briefly.
1. The War
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.