A growing network of students at evangelical campuses are “becoming politically active in combating world poverty and hunger, the AIDS epidemic, debt relief, the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and global warming,” reports Stan Friedman in the Christian Century (May 30).
Evangelical social activists report unprecedented activity on social issues among evangelical students, even from relatively conservative and small schools. “For many of these schools, this is the first time that students are seeking to organize on campus even as they focus on issues of social justice in their chapels.“ Organizations and efforts, such as the evangelical Micah Challenge and the secular One campaign (calling on governments to give one percent of their gross national product to eliminate hunger and poverty) connect students and direct them to e-mail addresses, Web sites conferences and events such as the G8 Summit.
Larry Eskridge of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals says that participation in short-term missions have “sensitized” students to economic differences between the West and other nations. Other observers trace the dramatic rise in evangelical student activism to three years ago “when the Republican Party’s allegiance with the Christian right stimulated a backlash among younger evangelicals angered by the Bush administration’s domestic and foreign policies.”
Some of these networks are small and receive criticism and even stigma from their colleges for their relatively liberal social positions. Other activist groups find wide acceptance, especially at schools such as Calvin College in Michigan. Because the new evangelical activists don’t focus on abortion and, in some cases, press for a less conservative position on homosexuality in their churches, some critics charge that they are liberalizing their schools.