Evangelical Update

A resource for lefties who want to understand conservative Christians.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Social Justice and Politics

One of my initial stereotypes about Evangelicals is that they are more interested in issues such as abortion and homosexuality than social justice issues such as poverty and racism. I hate to say it, but my stereotype holds. Admittedly I usually read white American Evangelical blogs (not on purpose, that just happens to be the group I tapped into), and in all my readings from this group I don't think anyone has ever mentioned anything having to do with egalitarianism (correct me if I'm wrong) and only very rarely have I read about poverty. Usually poverty is discussed in the context that government should not be responsible for reducing poverty.

When I have questioned evangelicals about social justice issues, the answer is always the same: "Yeah, we Christians should do more about that," but I don't see any interest in it. There are definitely Evangelicals out there who are committed to social justice, and who even vote Democrat, but Evangelicals are largely politically conservative.

However, it is one thing to be concerned about social justice and quite another to do something about it. It can be argued that Evangelicals actually do something about it because many of them tithe (give 10% of income to the church), while most mainline Protestant churches to not actively encourage this behavior (thanks Ilona for reminding me of this). Tithe money goes toward all types of social justice-type endeavors.

One thing that blew me away was that many Evangelicals don't think Republicans are conservative enough! For instance I remember reading one woman complaining about James Dobson, of "Focus on the Family" fame, being too liberal and too willing to reach out to the main stream. She also shamed Dobson for his son's behavior. Amy tore up her Florida Republican voter registration card after Jeb Bush did not engage in illegal action to prevent Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removal (I cannot find that post, sorry). There was a lot of rhetoric surrounding Republican's lack of illegal behavior - many Evangelicals felt that a true Christian politician would go to jail for his/her beliefs.

I've contended for a while now, that in the irony of all ironies, Republicans have hijacked Christianity purely for political gain. Many Evangelicals agree, and many are interested in the Constitution Party. Carmon Friedrich and her son Pieter organize the The Backwater Report, which supports the Constitution Party. Reverend Bret McAtee, a Reformed minister in Michigan, wrote an interesting article about "White Evangelical Stupid Protestants," attacking Christians for voting Republican. And in the wake of Laura Bush's comedy act a few weeks back, it appears that many Evangelicals are not even convinced that Laura Bush is a Christian (here and here)!

[Update: I thought about striking this paragraph all together, but it's still there so that you can understand why the commenters are so annoyed with me.]
The point of this is to show what I perceive to be yet another rift between liberal and conservative Christians. Conservative Christians concentrate on the salvation part of Christianity ("Faith, NOT Works."), while Liberal Christians tend to concentrate on The Beatitudes part of Jesus' message.

Update: From the comments so far, it looks as though I may have blown it on this one - apparently I've come across as highly critical when that is not what I meant. I'm learning here too - I'm by no means an expert on Evangelicals! Perhaps conservative Christians are just too humble for us to know what they are doing. Please read the comments to see what I'm talking about.