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