A post evangelical America?

The Washington Post On Faith asks, “Post Evangelical America?”

Lisa Miller says, “Yes”

Just as “race” has a whole new meaning in America this week, so, too, does “faith.” For at least four decades, white evangelicals have been the religion-and-politics story in this country. Their power, their rhetoric, their numbers, their theology–all have been so dominant that many of us in the media had forgotten that religious faith could be expressed any other way. Last summer, a colleague and I wrote a profile of president-elect Barack Obama that described his Christian faith–a journey that started with a deeply spiritual but not religious upbringing, progressed through a considerable amount of reading, searching and ambivalence, and culminated in an emotional homecoming in a socially active, black church in Chicago. . .

. . .The exit polls echo findings by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which last year published a massive study showing Americans to be deeply spiritual–90 percent of them say they believe in God–but less and less concerned with denominational orthodoxy. Like Obama, a quarter of Americans practice a faith different from the one they were raised in, the Pew survey showed. Among Protestants, that number is a third. Even a quarter of atheists say they believe in a higher power or a universal spirit.

Darrell Bock is a professor at New Testament Studies at the Dallas Theological Seminary who voted for Obama. For Christians like him, social issues such as abortion and gay marriage were not litmus tests this year. . .

Richard Mouw says, “No” – Evangelicals are celebrating Obama too”

After a week or so of basking in the afterglow of the presidential election, I am starting to get a little grumpy. It’s not about President-elect Obama. Like many other Americans I wept tears of joy when he addressed the nation on the evening of November 4. What is irritating me is much of the post-election analysis, especially as it focuses on religious issues.

Lisa Miller’s Newsweek piece, “A Post-Evangelical America,” is one of the things that has put me in a foul mood. . .

. . .Were these commentators really listening when President-elect Obama called for the kind of civility that really listens to folks with whom we disagree? Do they really think that the sober tone of his victory speech was a declaration that it is time to ridicule those of us who hold to some conservative values on the so-called “social issues,” in the hope of silencing our voices in the public debates?I am an evangelical who does not always get very high marks from the Religious Right for the stands that I take. But I do share some of their views on some key issues of public policy. If there is a lesson to be learned about evangelicalism these days, it is not that we have been banned from the public square because of the Obama election, but that we are not as easily stereotyped as the Lisa Miller and others want to think. We have come to an evangelical faith as people from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and economic levels. We reside in urban and rural areas, and we live in countries across the globe. We represent every “tribe and tongue.” This means too that we do not all occupy the same place on the political spectrum.

. . . In my part of the evangelical world, folks have been celebrating the election of Barack Obama.


Onto a totally different subject . . . the Washington Post’s On Faith asks, is compassion central to all religions?: “Religion scholar Karen Armstrong is asking the world to write a Charter for Compassion, based on her premise that compassion is central to all religions. Do you agree? If so, what has gone wrong?”

[Read several responses from different religious perspectives at On Faith ]

5 thoughts on “A post evangelical America?

  1. steph says:

    Do you agree with what?

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks, Steph. It’s nice to have someone out there helping me out with my huge communication gaps.

    I’ve changed the last paragraph to be more clear. On a separate subject, Karen Armstrong is asking if others agree with her premise about religion and compassion. I thought that was an interesting discussion too.

  3. steph says:

    I agree with her premise although I don’t think it is central so much as part of all religions. However the problem is that I don’t think the religious, particularly the western fundamentalist religious, are compassionate in practice. I think this is because a literalistic interpretation of religious teachings compromises their intention.

  4. Ben says:

    I think I know where you are going with this; maybe it’s an issue of selective compassion.

    I suppose we could all stand to be a little more compassionate.

  5. steph says:

    I actually think compassion is more central to some of the primal religions and this compassion extends to the environment.

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