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Friday, March 11, 2005

Evangelicals take on bigger, broader goals.

The New York Times reports that the National Association of Evangelicals officially issued its far-reaching political platform yesterday, but the article doesn't adequately describe the NAE's ambitions. (Here's a pdf version of the NAE's platform, "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.") Representing 45,000 congregations and 30 million members, the NAE has big plans, as Rob Garver explained last week at the American Prospect's website:

The preamble to the document quickly makes clear that the group is not looking to influence policy on the margins but to become a major voice in the political process: “Evangelical Christians in America face a historic opportunity. We make up fully one quarter of all voters in the most powerful nation in history. Never before has God given American evangelicals such an awesome opportunity to shape public policy in ways that could contribute to the well-being of the entire world. Disengagement is not an option. We must seek God’s face for biblical faithfulness and abundant wisdom to rise to this unique challenge.” . . .

The policy statement is broad in scope, has been years in the making, and has been vetted by hundreds of evangelical ministers from across the country.

What the March meeting will indicate is that American evangelicals have been thinking, planning, and, indeed, praying for a long time about how best to actively engage in the political process. What they have decided is that they are required, not just as citizens but also as Christians, to advocate for political change and, above all, to mobilize the more than half of self-identified evangelicals in the country who currently don’t vote.

What the Times article does point out, however, is that the document isn't entirely good news for the Republican Party:

Barbara Williams-Skinner, president of the Skinner Leadership Institute, a Christian training center in Tracy's Landing, Md., criticized evangelicals who decide their votes using abortion and same-sex marriage as a litmus test.

"The litmus test is the Gospel, the whole of it," said Ms. Williams-Skinner, an African-American who told the group that she is a Democrat who opposes abortion.

Ms. Williams-Skinner was the sole speaker to draw a standing ovation.

("Evangelicals Open Debate on Widening Policy Questions," Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 3.11.05, reg req'd; "Bible Bloc: The Evangelical Political Movement Is Just Getting Started," Rob Garver, The American Prospect Online 3.2.05)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 11 March 2005 at 8:34 AM

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