Their involvement may become as misguided as was the earlier activism of liberal Christianity.

Evangelical Christians are swarming back into the public arena. After a generation of withdrawal from public concerns in the wake of the modernist social gospel, they are “going public” and getting socially involved on a grand scale.

Resurgent evangelical interest in politics is to be welcomed and commended. Yet some observers fear—and with good reason—that this involvement may eventually become as politically misguided as was the activism of liberal Christianity earlier in this century. Some even consider 1980 the fateful year of evangelical ingress into politics, a year of decisive long-term consequences both for the United States and for the future of evangelical churches.

During the present political campaign evangelical spokesmen have been more involved in political affairs, directly or indirectly, than for many decades. A colorful “Washington for Jesus” rally, which its sponsors at first hoped would draw a million participants, rallied less than half that number, but the throng nonetheless notably outnumbered the multitudes who welcomed Pope John Paul II to the national capital. Leaders in the electronic church, a euphemism for television religion, have formulated specific questions that churchgoers are expected to address to their congressmen on political positions ranging from abortion and a balanced budget to the Panama Canal treaty and SALT II. This has been deplored as a spiritual litmus test that suspends the Christian authenticity of congressmen on particular political commitments. But the nonevangelical ecumenists who have long lobbied Congress for their own approved specifics were hardly in the best position to complain. ...

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