Thursday, November 15, 2012

An evangelical take on race and the elections

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 5:52 PM

Jim Wallis

Not all evangelicals are alike. Some of them aren't even white.

That's the point that Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, makes in the wake of the 2012 presidential election.

From his recent article:

Just as the 2012 electoral results finally revealed the demographic transformation of America — which has been occurring for quite some time — it also dramatically demonstrated how the meaning of the word “evangelical” is being transformed.

Evangelical can no longer be accurately used to mean “white evangelical.”

Wallis, who is white and is sometimes seen as a progressive Christian (and sometimes not), goes on to use statistics to set up his point, which is that evangelicals and Christians broke along partisan lines based largely on race:

Of the 71 percent (Pew, CNN) of America’s Hispanics who voted for President Barack Obama, the vast majority are either Catholic or Evangelical/Pentecostal. Obama lost the white Catholic vote, but he won “the Catholic vote” because of Hispanic Catholics. Similarly, Obama lost the white evangelical vote, but he won the majority of Hispanics who call themselves Evangelical or Pentecostal. Likewise, Obama won 93 percent of the African American vote, the majority of whom are members of black churches whose theology is quite evangelical. And 75 percent of the Asian American vote went for Obama, whose churchgoing members are also mostly evangelical.

Mitt Romney got about the same percentage of white voters that George Herbert Walker did (about 59 percent v. 60 percent for Bush), which resulted in 426 electoral votes for Bush, but only 206 for Romney.

Wallis goes on to argue that the marriage of Republicans and white evangelical leaders has created an agenda that does not honestly reflect the desires of all evangelicals, and is perhaps doing disservice to the Christian agenda.

It's an interesting argument, and one we are hearing more of, from Jim Daly's bridge-mending to the coalition of high-profile evangelicals calling for immigration reform.

As Wallis puts it:

It’s time to change the meaning of the word “evangelical.” It’s time to tell the media to look at the changing demographics, change its terminology, and take account of all the “evangelicals.” And it’s time to describe the broader list of “moral” and “biblical” issues that evangelicals care about. This is a new, diverse coalition for a new America — and a changing evangelical demographic is a central part of that. The narrow conservatism of the religious right’s white evangelicals is simply not a faith to and for that new evangelical world.

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