The demons of the white evangelical past
White evangelical political loyalties and their lessons for the rest of us
If white evangelicals are united by anything, it isn't theology.
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson understood evangelical anxieties and played to them. But the strategy backfired.
Why do most white evangelicals vote Republican? How has this affected Republican politics? Matthew Sutton gives us our first good account of how and why evangelical political views developed the way they did. Three elements were crucial—premillennial eschatology, World War I, and the Puritan heritage.
Last week, evangelical congregations across America began screening a documentary called The Stranger: Immigration, Scripture and the American Dream, produced by a group called the Evangelical Immigration Table. Among EIT's advocates are a host of uncommon bedfellows: Mathew Staver of the Liberty University School of Law and Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and popular pastors Max Lucado and Wilfredo de Jesús. Immigration reform has attracted such a spectrum of advocates that it shows how it is a fortuitous issue for American Protestants.
If you happened upon the front page of the Wall Street Journal [today] you saw the headline, “Evangelicals Push Immigration Path.” It’s one of several recent articles focused on white evangelicals’ changing tune when it comes to legal paths to citizenship. Megachurch pastors are willing to lose members over the issue. The National Association of Evangelicals is organizing a campaign to educate and prod congregations to political action.
The presidential election revealed that the “God gap” in electoral politics remains as large as ever—and is much larger than the gender gap that was often touted during the campaign. Mark Silk summarizes it: Those who said they attend worship weekly preferred Mitt Romney by 20 points, 59-39. Those who said they attend less frequently went for Obama by 25 points. That compares to a male preference for Romney of seven points and a female preference for Obama of 11. How fervently one practices one’s religion is—apart from race—still the best predictor of how one votes.