The Common Good

Media Coverage Of Evangelical Christians Ignores Blacks And Latinos

Date: March 28, 2012

Lisa Sharon Harper, author of the book “Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican or Democrat” and co-author of “Left, Right & Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics,” says the term “evangelical” has a meaning different than what is portrayed in the mainstream media.

“The media would do well not to call [the religious right] evangelicals,” says Harper, also director of mobilizing for Sojourners, a Christian social justice organization in Washington. “They’re really thinking about a political bloc. They’re not thinking about theological evangelicals.”

Harper notes that political evangelicals tend to be white, live in suburban or rural areas and have a history of supporting a conservative agenda over the past 30 years. In contrast, she says theological evangelicals have existed for hundreds of years and have challenged the status quo.

She points to William Wilberforce, the evangelical Christian, who led the movement to abolish slavery in Great Britain in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Wilberforce also worked to end poverty and cruelty to animals and to expand educational access.

Harper says contemporary evangelical Christians strive to raise awareness about similar issues. “What you’re finding among theological evangelicals is there’s such a broader spectrum of issues that they care about,” she says. “It won’t just be abortion or same-sex marriage. It will also be the prison industrial complex and how that impacts the black community and the Latino community. It will be the issue of immigration.”