Evangelical social activism of a more liberal bent appears to be gaining ground, even if its impact seems uncertain, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Jan. 22).
The new evangelical activism remains committed to pro-life and traditional family causes, but these “activists believe that serving God also means acting on a `biblically balanced agenda’ that would, among other things, erase poverty, trim tax cuts for the rich and protect the environment,” writes Bob Kemper.
Behind much of the new interest in taking on more liberal causes is the National Association of Evangelicals’ recent manifesto called “An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.” The new movement is evident nationwide. In Alabama, an attempt to overhaul the tax system that would raise taxes of the wealthy evangelical professor at the University of Alabama’s Law School. In South Carolina, Republican and Democratic civic groups fighting for more state money for poor rural public schools found a key ally among the state’s conservative Christians despite the Religious Right’s longtime pursuit of voucher-financed private schools.
[The Alabama initiative was not passed, and the results of the South Carolina activism are unclear]. While the new evangelical activism is distinct from the evangelical left, such as represented by Jim Wallis of Sojourners, it does set itself apart from the old guard of the religious right, such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Already, evangelical groups such as Focus for the Family have criticized the movement for diluting the evangelical concentration on abortion and other family issues.