Continuing the Journey: Evangelicals Reaffirm 1973 Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern & Expand Declaration for Today’s Challenges

A Group of Inter-Generational and Racially Diverse Evangelicals Confront Misleading Media Representation of Evangelicalism and Commit to Saving the Christian Witness

Washington, DC –  Diverse evangelicals, led by people of color and women, want to bring the “good news” back to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in direct contrast to the “bad news” perpetuated by older, white, and partisan evangelical men. Evangelicals are typically identified in the media and by the public as a predominately white, politically right-wing faith group with little to no concern about the poor and oppressed.

Missing from the national conversation is a recognition that evangelicals are an ethnically diverse group.  According to the PRRI 2017 American Values Atlas, thirty-five percent of evangelicals are people of color. Although the media focused on the eighty-one percent of “evangelicals” who voted for Donald Trump, it ignored the fact that seventy-two percent of evangelicals of color voted differently. This distortion undermines the Christian witness and negatively impacts American politics.  Millions of people have left the faith, especially younger believers, during a time in which evangelicalism has become increasingly partisan and politicized. 

 The release of the “Chicago Invitation: Diverse Evangelicals Continue the Journey” signals a commitment to transform the current, false narrative around evangelicalism into a liberating one based upon Jesus’ teachings, the authority of scripture, evangelism, and God’s Biblical call to justice.

 “In 1973, I participated in the process that led to the release of the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern. The declaration came out of a multiracial and intergenerational group thatunanimously agreed upon the affirmations we included and felt the result reflected the work that God had done among and through us. That was 45 years ago. Reading it today can be heartbreaking — realizing how far in the wrong direction ‘evangelicalism’ has now gone, so diminished and distorted. In my tradition, we would call that spiritual ‘backsliding.’  45 years later, the need to reclaim the true meaning of the word ‘evangelical’ is as urgent as it has ever been. The soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are both at stake,” said Jim Wallis, President and Founder of Sojourners.

Adam Taylor, Executive Director of Sojourners, notes the urgent need for a representative conversation around evangelicalism by stating, “It is imperative to redefine evangelicalism through the witness and lens of what has long been a much more diverse movement.  The future of evangelicalism requires us to recognize that according to recent data, white evangelical churches are in decline while membership in many ethnic and diverse churches is flourishing.  It is critical that the evangelical movement be defined by theological convictions and not political ones, because as Jesus points out you cannot serve two masters, in this case the gospel and a political party.  By changing the public narrative to include diverse evangelicals, we can help rehabilitate the perception of evangelicals and enable our nation and the church to better cross the bridge into a more inclusive, multi-racial future that mirrors God’s kingdom come.”

"Evangelical people of color and women have been on the frontlines in the fight for dreamers (#prayfordreamers), fighting against the separation of children from their parents at the border (#notwithoutmychild), standing with folks in Charlottesville, and standing with the #metoo movement (#silenceisnotspiritual).  We are trying to follow Jesus' teaching in the Bible and to take seriously Jesus' invitation to stand with those are the margins of society, to care about those who are being dehumanized because of their race, their gender, or their immigration status.  Organizations like Christian Community Development Association and their work with dreamers, and fellow diverse evangelicals who advocate for refugees help me to understand God's heart for the poor and the invisible people in our society.  This statement re-affirms these commitments and helps connect the dots to the most pressing issues in society today,” said Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Executive Director, Evangelicals for Social Action/The Sider Center.

Available for Interviews: Jim Wallis, Adam Taylor, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, and Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

Full Text of 2018 : The Chicago Invitation: Diverse Evangelicals Continue the Journey