Joshua Hopping of Sweet, Idaho, helped put George W. Bush in the White House, and four years later helped keep him there. As an evangelical Christian, Hopping was part of the so-called “values voters” bloc that some pundits credit with Bush’s electoral success. But this year, Hopping isn’t a lock to support the Republican ticket. He says he’s open to consider which candidate best embodies his Christian values—and that very openness represents what could be one of the most significant shifts in this election season, because evangelicals, especially those under 30, are no longer a safe bet to vote for the furthest-right option on the ballot.
Why the loosening of party attachment? The questions that matter most to Hopping, 28, aren’t as narrowly defined as they used to be. He says he’ll be paying close attention to what the candidates are saying about the issues most important to him, which now include not only abortion and same-sex marriage but also the environment, poverty, and immigration—“and that’s not even counting the war in Iraq, health care, social security, and all those other things that are important,” Hopping told Sojourners. Looking at the records of the two parties on those issues, Hopping says, gave him pause about the unquestioned convictions he held in the past. “I said, ‘wait a minute,’ I want to take another look and see who’s out there, who actually cares about life beyond the womb.” Hopping says this line of thinking feels outside of his conservative comfort zone, but he cannot ignore his new convictions, particularly about the environment.
“Eight years ago, I began working in the environmental field, and it really hit me that God tells us to take care of the environment. The more I read the Bible, I see that the environment affects the poor, the young, and the old—the same people God said to go reach,” he says.