Sunday, May 20, 2007

A New Breed of Evangelicals?

(Flickr user Ann Althouse via CC)

[Read an update to this post here]

The New York Times has a decent story up about the "new breed" of Evangelical Christians:
Typified by megachurch pastors like the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and the Rev. Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, the new breed of evangelical leaders — often to the dismay of those who came before them — are more likely to speak out about more liberal causes like AIDS, Darfur, poverty and global warming than controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
I think I speak for a large portion of this generation of Christians when I say: It's about damn time.

As tempting as picketing abortion clinics with pictures of dead babies may be, it's important to realize: Every day, people are dying of preventable causes. Children go without food and water, and die of starvation/dehydration. AIDS continues to spread rampantly in Africa. And genocide and war ravage many parts of the world as I type these words.

And that's not even talking about the environment; God gave us charge of his creation and we've been doing a crappy job of taking care of it. It's time to step up and make sure that we don't leave a desolate and uninhabitable wasteland for our descendants.

The NYTimes article ends a little bit ominously:
There are other signs of attitude changes among younger evangelicals. Recent surveys conducted by the Barna Group show that younger “born again” Christians are more accepting of homosexuality than older ones and are less resistant to affording gays equal rights. But on abortion, they remain almost as conservative as their parents — more fodder for both political parties to weigh as they consider the future.
In other words, although our generation can put aside gay marriage and divorce as a major, divisive issues, the abortion question is one that will probably remain unresolved in our lifetimes. Still don't know how I feel about this one...

Any thoughts?


Richard said...

the picture made me smile.

Anonymous said...

Yes, abortion will continue to be divisive. The SCOTUS did the country a big disfavor with Roe v. Wade. This issue should have been addressed legislatively. If so, it would be behind us now.

Synova said...

Perhaps there is something fundamentally different about abortion than about homosexuality or divorce?

Also, if you're talking about young people... what does the rhetoric around abortion say to children except that they are consumers rather than producers, burdens rather than joys. Without intrinsic value, only valued if they are "wanted".

mcg said...

I too am glad to see Christian advocacy for a wider range of social ills. However, you seem to be advocating a relaxation of focus on abortion at the same time. I see no need for that; indeed, respect for life at all stages is a worthwhile motivation for not just abortion but also AIDS, genocide, poverty, and so forth.

I don't consider it "ominous" in the least that young evangelicals remain conservative on that issue. On the contrary, I find that enccouraging. And you say "As tempting as picketing abortion clinics with pictures of dead babies may be, it's important to realize: Every day, people are dying of preventable causes." Well, yes; abortion is one of those preventable causes. However, I am new to your blog, so perhaps you are simply more liberal on the topic of abortion than I am. And if so I accept that in the spirit of respectful disagreement.

I will say however that the lesson of abortion translates to many of these other issues. That is, their solutions are complicated by politics. Abortion is preventable, AIDS is preventable, genocide is preventable---in theory. The abortion debate illustrates the gulf between theory and reality. That is not to say we should weaken our resolve for those issues we believe in, but that we should understand the obstacles we face and adopt both the patience and the strategy needed in light of them.

technogypsy said...

Divorce, abortion, just have this little problem as a Christian of an opposition going back to the founder. There are more issues than that. Some very unpopular like money-lending...

So what do you drop becomes the question?

I did like the sign too.

AlphaLiberal said...

Guess what, folks? The distortion of Chrisitanity to reflect the most bizarre hard-right politics we've seen in our lifetimes is driving a lot of people away. I'm one of them.

I really dsipute that Jesus wanted his followers to go and persecute the homosexuals, condemn and attack people trying to protect creation, comfort the rich and afflict the poor and any other modern manifestations of the abused faith. (For example, the role of "true believers" in the DOJ corruption scandal.)

The values I learned in Sunday School are alien to modern Christianity, which is obsessed with power and political allegience to a corrupt Republican Party.


Troy said...

I would vehemently disagree with Darfur and AIDS as "liberal" causes. Liberals haven't done a damn thing about Darfur -- who has?) and liberal "tolerance" and hatred of all things abstinent (politically I mean) aid the spread of AIDS at home and abroad. Global warming is indeed a liberal cause -- muddle-headed irrrationality. It's ironic that many of the folks who are derided for advocating Intelligent Design are now within the scientific fold on global warming. Ugh.

I would agree with mcg on abortion -- it has and will continue to kill many more people than any anthropogenic enviro-apocalypse. It is entirely preventable as is AIDS, etc.

Great sign too btw.

Anonymous said...

AlphaLiberal: You'd let the behavior of people drive you away from God? One wonders about your commitment to God in the first place. Doesn't seem that it was very strong in the first place. But its your decision. Hope you don't end up regretting it.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I think Christians have woken up to the other issues besides gay marriage and abortion. Sexual slavery, AIDS, the homeless etc. These are not liberal issues, they are everyone's issues. The difference is that liberals think simply throwing money at the problem will solve it while gaining them power (don't bite the hand that feeds) while conservatives want to help them with a hand up. Big difference.

AlphaLiberal said...

I like the sign, too.

"AlphaLiberal: You'd let the behavior of people drive you away from God?"

I said I was putting distance between me and organized religion.

“Organized religion” is by no means the same as “God.”

I do miss the hymns and get a few in when I visit the folks. Overall, though, I’m disgusted with organized Christianity.

Troy said...

Alpha Liberal... While I understand the sentiment, what can really be accomplished in individual units -- besides the few (and what an exceptional few!) in Scripture? Even Christ organized his own group and there were many other disciples as well. Organizations aren't bad -- people are. I can do more for AIDS sufferers here in SoCal through my church and our collected resources and talents than I can on my own. There's not much wrong with organization that individual Godliness can't at least ameliorate.

OTOH -- Rock of Ages sounds awesome in my shower -- and since Rick Warren has unwittingly led to the demise of the good old hymns that's about the only version I get nowadays.