Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Ah, but to Dream!

This is a couple of days old now, but it may still be of particular interest for some of the regulars around here. I'm a little too busy to say much about it, but it is something to be a little optimistic about. (The stuff re: abortion, homosexuality, and traditional theism notwithstanding.)

Evangelical Leaders Reexamine Principles

The National Assn. of Evangelicals is circulating a draft of a groundbreaking framework for political action that strongly endorses social and economic justice and warns against close alignment with any political party.

Steeped in biblical morality and evangelical scholarship, the framework for public engagement could change how the estimated 30 million evangelicals in this country are viewed by liberals and conservatives alike.

It affirms a religiously based commitment to government protections for the poor, the sick and disabled, including fair wages, healthcare, nutrition and education. It declares that Christians have a "sacred responsibility" to protect the environment.

[. . .]

In the midst of a presidential election year, war and terrorism, the framework says Christians in their devotion to country "must be careful to avoid the excesses of nationalism." In domestic politics, evangelicals "must guard against over-identifying Christian social goals with a single political party, lest nonbelievers think that Christian faith is essentially political in nature."

"This is a maturing of the evangelical public mind," said Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, one of the nation's principal evangelical schools. "Instead of just assuming an automatic alliance with a specific party — and that's been traditionally the Republicans — it says evangelicals ought to be more thoughtful."

[. . .]

[Richard] Cizik, the association's governmental affairs official, said he hoped that the framework would spur discussion before the November presidential election.

But its greatest influence probably will be over the long term, said the Rev. Kevin Mannoia, the association's past president. Mannoia said he set the framework process in motion because he saw a need for a coherence in the evangelical response to public policy issues. Mannoia's successor, the Rev. Ted Haggard, agreed and followed through.

"I think short term it probably won't have a lot of impact. In the long term it will have a fairly significant impact," Mannoia said. "It will gradually seep into the consciousness of evangelical leaders, and it will become a guiding light."

One can but hope, I guess.