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Swartz argues persuasively that the most significant politician to arise out of the Evangelical Left was Mark Hatfield, a moderate Republican from Oregon. Swartz shows how Hatfield's strong opposition to the Vietnam War had its roots in his experience as a lieutenant serving in the Pacific during World War II. Due to his military position, Hatfield was "among the first Americans to see the devastation of the nuclear strike on Hiroshima." As Hatfield rose to power in the Oregon Republican Party, eventually serving in different elected capacities for 45 years, he never lost touch with the formative experience of war in Asia.

"Here were people [in Hiroshima] dehumanized in my mind throughout the war, thinking of them as one vast, massive enemy, not human, not like any of us," wrote Hatfield. "Now on their shore, I knew the brilliant truth. They were exactly like us, suffering, afraid—human. Oh, so human. As the adults relaxed and smiled, as my lunch was completely given to the children, my loathing vanished. I stood awash, clean in an epiphany which has never deserted me. Hatred had gushed out, transmuted into the powerful balm of compassion." Before returning home, Hatfield sailed to Haiphong in Indochina, where he witnessed what he described in a letter to his parents as the "wealth divide between the peasant Vietnamese and the colonial French bourgeoisie." This he blamed on French colonizers, a conclusion that would later inform his contrarian stance on the Vietnam War.

Hatfield's rise to national prominence in the '60s and '70s as arguably the most important anti-war politician coincided with his elevation within evangelicalism, a point brought home by Swartz:

Despite his strong antiwar activism, Hatfield continued to be a welcome presence among many evangelicals. He traveled the evangelical circuit in the 1960s and 1970s, speaking at countless graduations and symposia. He served on boards of evangelical institutions and published books with evangelical publishers. Letters asking for donations to Hatfield's re-election campaigns circulated across the country in evangelical circles. He cultivated close relationships with Billy Graham, Bill Bright's Campus Crusade, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Carl Henry, and Christianity Today, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Such close ties suggest the presence of a liberal activist faction within establishment evangelicalism.
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