A Republican is Impressed by a Young Generation of Evangelicals

Michael Gerson is the author of the new book, Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don't). He was once the main speechwriter for President George W. Bush and named by TIME as one of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” Gerson now writes for Newsweek and is an opinion writer at The Washington Post. He's written about his experience with our ministry of the CCO, where he took part in our annual Jubilee Conference.

Faith Without a Home

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, February 27, 2008; Page A17

I have seen the future of evangelical Christianity, and it is pierced. And sometimes tattooed. And often has one of those annoying, wispy chin beards.

Those who think of evangelical youth as the training cadre of the religious right would have been shocked at Jubilee 2008, a recent conference of 2,000 college students in Pittsburgh sponsored by the Coalition for Christian Outreach. I was struck by the students' aggressive idealism - there were booths promoting causes from women's rights to the fight against modern slavery to environmental protection. Judging from the questions I was pounded with, the students are generally pro-life - but also concerned about poverty and deeply opposed to capital punishment and torture. More than a few are unable to consider themselves a Republican or a Democrat - homeless in the stark partisanship of American politics.


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BoseKnows said...

Though I wasn't at that conference, I would have to identify myself as one of the young evangelicals he describes

In 2000, had I been old enough to vote, I would have voted for G.W. Bush because of message he put forth on moral issues like abortion and his "compassionate conservatism." For a while, I saw Republicans as the "Christian" party.

Gerson alludes to this in his article: "Since the 1980s, evangelicals have returned to the Republican fold, largely because Democrats embraced abortion on demand, moral relativism and intrusive, bureaucratic government."

Now, however, there is a shift in the other direction because, for all it's claims to moral superiority, the Republican party has failed to deliver on many of its promises in regards to moral issues. After years of controlling both the White House and the Congress, efforts to address abortion, gay marriage and other social issues have been half-hearted at best, falling by the wayside as focus looms heavily on "The war on terror."

I think that many evangelicals feel they've been the victim of a bait-and-switch. Even Pat Robertson endorsing a pro-choice candidate, as Gerson notes, exemplifies how the political right has set aside the moral issues it claimed to champion.

Personally, I've come to the conclusion that the legislation of morality does little good when so many people are intent on living immorally. To me, it's more important to empower government to enact social justice than police morals loosely based on Christian ethics, especially if since such policing will do more harm than good.

The other big issue here is the war itself, which even previously right-leaning evangelicals are beginning to see as ineffective at best, and, at worst, increasingly unjust. It's becoming harder and harder to make the argument that an American military presence in Iraq is doing anybody any favors.

It's good to hear that others, like me, recognize that neither of the major political parties has a monopoly on the Christian worldview.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Bob. Good article too. Good to see people like that moved to see something different than the status quo. And good to see this awakening among the younger generation.

Michael Kruse said...

Thanks for the link, Bob. Great article.