When I tell people about my recently released book Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism, I sometimes get a snort in response: “The evangelical left? All three of them!?” This quip has some basis in reality. Polls from the election show that over 70% of evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney. The politics of Jesus appears to be thoroughly Republican.
But things are not entirely as they seem. That impressively high number counts only white evangelicals. Black evangelicals vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Latino evangelicals are about evenly split. And evangelical immigrants from around the world combine conservative theological and moral stances with progressive economic and foreign policy views in ways that defy the Western imagination. Limiting evangelical politics to the category of “white evangelicals” is rather misleading for a missionary-minded group that sees itself as part of a multiethnic, global communion.
Even reducing evangelical politics to the categories of Republican and Democrat is overly narrow. The evangelical left can’t be reduced to the Democratic Party, just as white evangelicalism can’t be reduced to the Republican Party. There are millions of evangelicals who vote for pro-life Republicans despite holding more progressive positions on poverty, capital punishment, and the environment. And there are many evangelicals who vote Democratic despite profound disagreement with the party’s pro-choice orthodoxy. The historical and global portrait of evangelicalism is of a group more politically creative than the electoral structures that try to contain them.
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