We have now heard Donald Trump’s words, literally ad nauseam, as he boasted about forcing himself on women, kissing them and grabbing them. Now, while the Republican Party implodes, many conservative evangelicals are brushing off the comments.
In an effort to triumph over the religious right, many progressive Christians have married their faith and politics to the Democratic Party, leaving little to no gap between their political visions and the party’s policies. Instead of celebrating this as a successful strategy for re-ascendency, I see it compromising radical Christian commitments to peace and justice.
Jimmy Carter rode to the White House in 1976 on the twin currents of his reputation as a “New South” governor and a resurgence of progressive evangelicalism in the early 1970s. Progressive evangelicalism, which traces its lineage to 19th-century evangelicals and to the commands of Jesus to care for “the least of these,” represented a very different version of evangelical activism from that of the religious right.
The closing of the doors of Exodus International earlier this summer doesn’t just signal a sea change in evangelical thinking about homosexuality. It also highlights some evangelicals’ dubious claims of adherence to immutable convictions.
The scene at the Church of the Reformation several weeks ago—just a couple blocks from the U. S. Capitol—was a mixture of resolve and celebration, equal parts political rally and family reunion. People milled about on the front steps posing for photographs, greeting old friends and making new acquaintances.
It would be easy for those of us who lean to the left of the political spectrum to dismiss the right by saying that they are waging a war on women, but that would deny the whole picture. What about Sarah Palin? What about Michelle Bachmann? And what about the other Grizzly Mamas who are being plucked, groomed and prepared as we speak?
I’m proud to be a part of a movement whose great concern is learning to love your neighbor as you love yourself. And as we move into the new year, I hope those voices of justice will grow stronger—and I wish for some other things as well.