U.S. Religious Right reacts to “Evangelical Manifesto”

May 7, 2008

Tony PerkinsA group of mostly centrist U.S. evangelicals released a lengthy manifesto on Wednesday which called for the movement to pull back from explicit partisan political activity, saying faith was being used to express “political points that have lost touch with biblical truth.”

Leading figures on the conservative Religious Right, such as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, were pointedly not asked to sign the document — a reflection of some of the divisions emerging in the U.S. evangelical movement, which numbers over 60 million by some estimates.

“I agree that evangelical Christians have become too aligned with the Republican Party which has taken them for granted,” Perkins told Reuters, adding that he saw some good stuff in the manifesto.

But he said “it was like it was written for ivory tower Christians, like they want to rid the world of evil but don’t want to get involved in the issues to do it.”

Divisions among U.S. Evangelicals — which are becoming more visible or vocal but have long been bubbling below the surface — have taken many forms.

Most publicly, they include a shift in emphasis among some evangelical leaders from the focus on culture issues such as abortion to a broader social agenda that includes calls to action on poverty and the environment

Most centrist evangelicals remain opposed to abortion rights, which they increasingly see as a social justice issue, but it is not their main focus.

The Religious Right, which has been the bedrock of conservative evangelical support for the Republican Party in recent election cycles, has also called for a broader agenda — but insists on tackling the issues that many of its supporters care deeply about.

This includes retaining an uncompromising and very public opposition to abortion and gay rights.

What do you think? Do you think the U.S. evangelical movement has become too politicized?

7 comments

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I cringe now whenever I tell people that I am a Christian because I know they are thinking, “Oh, one of those right-wing nutters”. The unfortunate marriage of evangelical Christianity, right-wing politics and fundamentalism has made the word “Christian” a by-word…and erected tremendous barriers to sharing the good news of Christianity with others. The devil himself could not have done a better job of damaging Christianity than the right wing fundamentalist with whom Evangelicals have linked themselves.

Posted by Dan Hutchinson | Report as abusive

It is the absolute right of all Americans to have a faith and a belief, or even non-belief, but this right is protected by a secular government and law. Religious people have the right to be political, but churches were granted a special status that prohibits political actions of the kind they have been doing, strongly, for the past 20 years. The Religious Right, hasn’t just forgotten these two point, they completely ignore this and have attempted to subvert the laws and rules that theoretically protect them. They act as they have because they currently have large numbers – a “Bully Approach.” It would be nice if everyone had the guts to stand up and say “Have you no sense of decency?” and stop this political movement.

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

This is all a bunch of bull. Conservative Protestants
have begun to feel uncomfortable about being looked down on by their liberal fellow believers. They are being cowed into whining “I am not a Republican.” The left wants Evangelicals to stand in the pulpit and say, “We don’t need to participate. Jesus loves everything and everybody anyway.” If the left and the weenie Christians can accomplish that the Evangelical vote will drop by about 50% and, voila, leftists will win more elections.
That’s their objective. Some Christian leaders whose predecessors withstood torture, prison, banishment, poverty, etc. now can’t stand up to political correctness.
The liberals critics don’t have any problem with the Protestant churches whose pastors preach Democrat politics, get paid to deliver Democrat votes, and deliver 90 to 95% margins for Democrats.

Christians should practice the truths of the scripture. They should align with political parties that best represent their Christian values and work as hard as possible to advance those values.
That’s what everybody else does in a democratic republic.

Posted by Holland | Report as abusive

[...] Hellyer, Alt. Muslim) Telegraph appoints Anglican priest to write on religion (Ruth Gledhill) U.S. Religious Right reacts to “Evangelical Manifesto” (Ed Stoddard, Telegraph) Vote BNP and this is what you get… (Walls Come Tumbling Down) Return of [...]

division of church and state anyone?

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

Fundamentalism is fundamentalism. Mr. Hutchinson’s comments above echo the sentiments of many of my Muslim friends & coworkers. They, too, are being painted with the broad brush of intolerance, hatred & bitterness that their fundamentalist brethren have propagated.

Give me fundamentalist Buddhists any day…

Posted by J Cipolla | Report as abusive

[...] especially critical of the Religious Right for doing this. The response of the Religious Right was not long in coming. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, said that “it was like it was written for [...]

This is sounds so familiar, you know when religious fundamentalism starts mixing with politics. This sort of religious influence on politics I thought could or would only happen in those 3rd world countries, with almost medieval attitudes, that you can find in parts of Africa, Asia and Middle East, (Not that there’s anything wrong with that if you’re into oppression, bigotry, ignorance and all that comes with it). This article is about 21stC USA isn’t it? I thought the meaning of democracy was ‘a form of government in which the people have a voice in the exercise of power, typically through elected representatives..’ (Oxford Dict.) I can’t seem to find the word ‘religon’ as part of the Oxford Dictionary meaning? Or would I only find that ‘religon’ is part of the democracy meaning in the book of the “Evangelical American Dictionary”?

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive

Why is it that being religious suddenly should be something to hide? I’m wondering what you think about this. I came across this interesting site, opposingviews.com the other day while doing some research on religion and its place in politics. It’s a site where there are numerous interesting debates on all sorts of subjects that are on everyone’s mind.

The debate that specifically captured my attention is the one asking whether Intelligent Design has merit. I do like the idea that their debaters are not simply average people giving their opinions, but all are experts in their chosen fields. The point of view that really got to me though, is the one from the Ayn Rand Institute in which they call ID a supposedly non-religious theory, and a crusade to peddle religion by giving it the veneer of science.

They use words like it is metaphysical marijuana intended to draw students away from scientific explanations and get them hooked on the supernatural. I’d like to place my comment there, but I’d really like to get some input from you before doing so. Here’s the specific debate I’d like to comment on. http://www.opposingviews.com/arguments/i t-s-bait-and-switch Thanks so much.

Posted by Kathleen T | Report as abusive