Tony Campolo

The Political Legacy of Progressive Evangelicals

For all the media attention paid to the Religious Right, much less energy has been spent looking into its counterpart, the Religious Left. And yet, when Barack Obama first ran for president in 2008, he appealed directly to religious voters, pairing his Christian faith with his progressive politics—something his Democratic predecessors Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did as well.

Pope Francis: Protestant?

Pope Francis in 2014

Pope Francis in 2014, giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

Someone has said that Pope Francis is really a Protestant. He is, if Protestant is defined as someone who protests. His recent encyclical Laudato si' is a protest against the often irresponsible industries as they pollute the environment.

Pope Francis especially protests the ways in which coal is burned in the production of electricity. He is right to protest. What comes out of the smoke stacks of coal-fed electric power plants is linked to 50,000 deaths a year, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility. Because children and the elderly among the poor are the most vulnerable, the pope, following his namesake, St. Francis, has a special concern for those that Jesus calls "the least of these."

Why Tony Campolo 'Came Out' for Marriage Equality

Image via Tashatuvango/shutterstock.com

Image via Tashatuvango/shutterstock.com

After decades of “bridge building” between the LGBTQ community and those who identify as evangelicals in opposition to full LGBTQ inclusion, Tony Campolo spoke out in favor of both full inclusion of same-sex couples in the church, as well as for marriage equality.

“It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church,” he wrote on his blog on June 8.

Tony Campolo Embraces Full Inclusion of Gay Couples in the Church

Photo via George Fox Evangelical Seminary / Flickr

Tony Campolo speaks at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Photo via George Fox Evangelical Seminary / Flickr

After years of struggling to answer questions about his views on gay Christian couples, Tony Campolo released a statement June 8 calling for their full acceptance in the church.

Campolo, one of the most influential leaders of the Evangelical left and a core leader of the Red-Letter Christian movement, describes in detail how he came to this decision.

“It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation, and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church,” wrote Campolo.

Tony Campolo To Shutter The Evangelical Ministry He Started 40 Years Ago

Campolo and other progressive evangelicals like Ron Sider and Jim Wallis have taught evangelicals how to speak the language of social justice, said David Swartz, a history professor at Asbury University and author of the book “Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism.”

Tony Campolo to Shutter the Evangelical Ministry He Started 40 Years Ago

Tony Campolo announced closure of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. Photo: Court. Tony Campolo/Via RNS

Tony Campolo, a progressive evangelical leader who counseled President Bill Clinton through the Monica Lewinsky scandal,  announced that the organization he founded nearly 40 years ago will close on June 30.

Campolo, 78, plans to retire with the closure of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, but he will continue to write and speak, with nearly 200 engagements scheduled for 2014. He said his health is fine and he wants to write one more book on how Christianity fits with the social sciences.

By June, Campolo said he anticipates there will be about $300,000 left to distribute to the off-shoot ministries started by the larger EAPE.  The 22 ministries that were started under EAPE now operate independently and will continue, including Red Letter Christians, where Campolo plans to spend most of his time.

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