The Common Good

The Faces of Christian Politics

Source: Newsweek
Date: April 2, 2012

If such a thing as the evangelical left exists, Jim Wallis is flying its flag. The evangelical minister, who heads the Christian social justice group Sojourners, argues in his magazine, books, and speeches for liberal policies on matters like social justice, the war in Afghanistan, nuclear-arms reduction, and most recently the decision to block the Keystone pipeline. That’s made him popular with some religious Democrats. But scholars of the evangelical and conservative Christian movements question the depth of Wallis’s support, claiming that his true success lies in publicity-seeking, not proselytizing, and that he’s essentially a media creation. (The same goes for other liberal and moderate evangelicals like Brian McLaren, a pastor who supports tolerance–if not outright acceptance–of gays, and Richard Cizik, a moderate and former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals who was drummed out of his job after backing gay marriage.) The reality is somewhere in between, argues John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron. “From my perspective, ‘liberal’ evangelicals really do exist, especially among young and well-educated evangelicals,” he says. “However, they make up only a small portion of the evangelical community as a whole.”