1. 'I believe in the Word of God. I am just not mad about it'
E. J. Dionne takes a deep look at the Southern Baptist election of Frank Page and says it shows evangelicals are mellowing out. "Page's upset victory could be very significant, both to the nation's religious life and to politics," Dionne says. By beating out the stalwarts of the conservative resurgence in the SBC, Page is broadening the Southern Baptists' appeal. Not cast in the mold of the combative, conservative leader, Page isn't fighting the liberals, but talking about preaching the gospel in a denomination whose membership has remained stagnant for several years.
While Dionne's analysis of Page's election is reductionistically political, and the election is not as momentous as he makes it, he is on to something. "The evangelical political agenda is broadening as new voices insist on the urgency of issues such as Third World poverty and the fights against AIDS and human trafficking," he says.
Rich Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals (and a self-described "Ronald Reagan movement conservative"), has been a leader in urging evangelicals to make environmental stewardship a central element of their political mission. This has earned him attacks from such prominent leaders on the Christian right as James Dobson.
Religious movements stay vibrant thanks to the complicated interaction of fidelity, reflection and reform. The evangelical world is going through a quiet evolution as believers reflect on the perils of partisanship and ideology and their reasons for being Christian. This will probably affect the nation's political life, but it will certainly affect the country's spiritual direction. My hunch is that ...1
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