“New Breed of Evangelicals”

Partially in response and reflection on Jerry Falwell’s passing the NYTimes and the Washington Post both have articles about where “the evangelical Christian movement” is going today.

I did not post anything about Rev. Falwell’s death for various reasons. I do want to comment that although I sometimes (often) disagreed with Falwell’s positions and (almost always) disagreed with his rhetoric I found it amazing the way in which so many commentators, cartoonists, and pundits felt it wholly appropriate to immediately “jump on his grave,” as it were. Flip through Cagel’s series of political cartoons “Farewell Falwell,” for example, or consider Christopher Hitchens’ comments about him, “I think its a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.” (But watch the video to be thoroughly appalled.)

So at least there seems to be some more thoughtful reflection on what his passing means in the larger context. It is good to see individuals like Jim Wallis and Ron Sider coming to the fore.

From the NYT article:
Emphasis Shifts for New Breed of Evangelicals – New York Times

The evangelical Christian movement, which has been pivotal in reshaping the country’s political landscape since the 1980s, has shifted in potentially momentous ways in recent years, broadening its agenda and exposing new fissures.

The death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell last week highlighted the fact that many of the movement’s fiery old guard who helped lead conservative Christians into the embrace of the Republican Party are aging and slowly receding from the scene. In their stead, a new generation of leaders who have mostly avoided the openly partisan and confrontational approach of their forebears have become increasingly influential.

Typified by megachurch pastors like the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and the Rev. Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, the new breed of evangelical leaders — often to the dismay of those who came before them — are more likely to speak out about more liberal causes like AIDS, Darfur, poverty and global warming than controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

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