Monday, May 23, 2005

A Conservative Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility?

I've been saying this for years to anyone who would listen, and to many many who didn't listen. Just last night, we sat next to a conservative couple from church that we used to be close friends with.....They're so angry over my views and writings...none of which I ever mention to them...that they barely speak to us.

I hope they read this MSNBC article. I pray that they do, not for the sake of our friendships, but for their sakes.

And I truly hope that the evangelicals cited in this MSNBC atticle believe their own words....that this is not just another mirage in the far-right religious desert.

These are a couple excerpts...please take the time to read the entire article. It's guaranteed to surprise you.

Evangelicals rethink their public face - faithful must branch out beyond politics, leaders say by Alex Johnson, MSNBC reporter

"Evangelical leaders are re-examining whether American evangelicalism has suffered from its portrayal as a conservative political movement rather than as a broad religious philosophy rooted in a literal reading of the Bible.

Although evangelical leaders have been among the most prominent spokesmen for conservative causes, “evangelical” and “religious right” are not the same thing. Studies indicate that as many as 40 percent of Americans who call themselves evangelicals are politically moderate or identify with the Democratic Party.

But two recent declarations by evangelical and conservative religious thinkers suggest that evangelicals have become too closely identified with conservative political activism, at the expense of attracting new followers. The declarations are likely to be hot topics of conversation when the Southern Baptist Convention holds its annual meeting next month in Nashville, Tenn....."

And the article continues....

The declarations — a statement of principles by the National Association of Evangelicals and a study of growth in Southern Baptist congregations — serve to crystallize discontent among many evangelical and conservative Christians with their public perception in recent years.

The NAE document, “For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility,” was the product of three years of work. It was created by two dozen scholars who bridged the spectrum of conservative to liberal evangelical thought encompassed by the organization’s 45,000 churches, which represent 52 U.S. denominations. It was released in March for general distribution with a book of essays that expanded on its seven main points....

'Evangelicals have failed to engage with the breadth, depth, and consistency to which we are called,' says the statement. It was signed by nearly 100 of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders, among them James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family; Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; David Neff, editor of Christianity Today; Charles Colson, president of the Prison Fellowship ministry; and the Rev. Rick Warren, author of the best-seller 'The Purpose-Driven Life.' "

And then....

The National Association of Evangelicals’ statement identifies seven areas of concern in which evangelicals should step up their social engagement:
— We work to protect religious freedom and liberty of conscience.
— We work to nurture family life and protect children.
— We work to protect the sanctity of human life and to safeguard its nature.
— We seek justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable.
— We work to protect human rights.
— We seek peace and work to restrain violence.
— We labor to protect God's creation.

I feel like sobbing from joy and relief when I read this.

There's hope that evangelical churches will yet fully turn toward God's words.

Praise God.

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