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Are Evangelicals the 'New Internationalists?'
A New York Timesop-ed piece last week by columnist Nicholas D. Kristof argued that the "destructive" religious right of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, which sought to "battle Satan with school prayers and right-to-life amendments, is on the ropes." In its place, he says, a new school of evangelicals is saving lives and reshaping American foreign policy. Kristof calls these American evangelicals the "new internationals."
Kristof begins by noting the January/February issue of Worldwide Challenge, a magazine published by Campus Crusade for Christ. The cover story focused on the poverty of rural Cameroon.
Kristof says the magazine's focus illustrates what he calls "a broad new trend": activism by American evangelicals in fighting sex trafficking, slavery, AIDS and religious persecution in forgotten parts of the globe.
But is evangelical international activism really a new trend?
"Evangelicals have been active in foreign policy really since the beginning of the Christian right," says John Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. "The development activities that he rightly praises have been going on a long, long time. My response to this piece was, 'Where have you been?'"
Various scholars told Christianity Today that although the umbrella observation that evangelicals are internationally minded may not be breaking news, Kristof's article does provide insight for evangelicals to consider.
"This is a new recognition of something we've been aware of for a while," says Dwight Gibson, North American director for World Evangelical Alliance. "But it tells me how much of a ghetto we as evangelicals have put ourselves in for a key journal like The New York Times to print this and for it ...1