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Is the Evangelical Left Fizzling?

12:00 AM, Dec 16, 2010 • By MARK TOOLEY
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NAE conducted an “Evangelical Leaders Survey” of its own board, in which respondents were restrictively asked to “name one issue on which they agree with President Obama.” The survey was apparently not interested in any disagreement. “In the current political climate, many focus their energy on fueling issues of disagreement – people of faith included,” Anderson said. "But, I find it really interesting that evangelical leaders readily look for where we can agree and support." Suggesting that most evangelicals support Obamacare seems absurd. Its provision facilitating abortions is certainly not supported by evangelicals, and was even, quietly, opposed by NAE. Several NAE officials have touted New START, but it is hardly a widely mobilizing issue among among evangelicals. The recent election results indicate that evangelicals, unlike the NAE poll of itself, probably are not overly inclined to search for political agreement with the administration.

Exit polls of actual voting by evangelicals indicate that the evangelical left remains primarily a phenomenon among evangelical elites on seminary and college campuses and among some parachurch and activist groups. The prolonged wars, culture clashes, and ultimate financial collapse during the George W. Bush years undoubtedly moved some evangelical elites and young people to the left. But the ongoing recession, explosion of government spending, and liberal stances on abortion and homosexuality by the Obama administration (the NAE quietly opposes revoking “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”), along with the president's discomfort with American exceptionalism, have likely solidified grassroots evangelicals overall within their traditional conservative politics. Like left-leaning mainline Protestant elites starting decades ago, evangelical elites increasingly will probably denounce their own constituency for its lack of political enlightenment.

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