For nearly four decades, perhaps American evangelicals' most prominent and admired politician was a man associated with liberal politics, one of the country's leading voices against the Vietnam War and military spending, and a critic of the nascent religious right.
Mark Hatfield, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate and two terms as governor of Oregon, died Sunday, August 7, at age 89.
"For a certain sector of evangelicalism, he was the political hero," said David R. Swartz, assistant professor of history at Asbury University. "He was morally upstanding, explicitly spiritual, and they really admired him for identifying as an evangelical so publically. Someone admired by the secularists and political elite was exhilarating for them, especially before the 1970s Newsweek cover on 'The Year of the Evangelical.' Hatfield offered respectability they craved."
Indeed, Hatfield's outspoken faith earned him the nickname (used both warmly and derisively) "Saint Mark" among his colleagues. But his staunch opposition to the Vietnam War also put him at odds with many evangelical leaders. A group called the Christian Freedom Foundation, with heavy backing from Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, sought to "get rid of those so-called liberal Christians like Mark Hatfield." Bright himself promised "to pray the wrath of God on Mark Hatfield," though he had invited Hatfield to join Campus Crusade's board of directors in the late 1950s, when the politician was Oregon's secretary of state. (Hatfield himself had become interested in Campus Crusade while teaching political science at Willamette University, where he was an advisor to the chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.)
Wheaton College president Hudson Armerding felt that ...