Time Praises 'Kinder and Gentler' Christianity

Young evangelicals seem to be cut from a different cloth than their forbearers, and that's got the secular media praising the Lord.

In "Young Evangelicals: Expanding Their Mission," Time contributor Amy Sullivan celebrated that the younger generation of evangelical Christians represent a "kinder and gentler" Christianity that defies the "fire-and-brimestone conservatism" associated with the older generation of evangelicals.

Sullivan reported that the applications to secular organizations like Teach for America have tripled among Christian universities, a much faster increase than from secular universities. "Internal surveys showed that more than half of incoming corps members said they were motivated by their faith to join Teach for America," Sullivan pointed out.

But Sullivan's piece on Teach for America turned into a critique of traditional evangelical leaders. She said younger Christian's emphasis on caring for the less fortunate represents a "remarkable cultural shift" for the movement. This "remarkable shift" involves the increase in younger evangelicals' activity in "nonideological causes" like fighting against sex-trafficking and solving poverty relief.

Young evangelicals no longer rely on churches and private charities to do good deeds, Sullivan said. Unlike their predecessors, they are open to partnering religious organizations with the government to accomplish what the church has traditionally viewed as missions work.

While their parents' exposure to third-world poverty was mainly limited to slideshows from visiting missionaries, Sullivan described younger evangelicals' exposure as "more direct and sustained," ranging from downloaded videos about the Invisible Children movement to short-term summer missions trips.

Sullivan cited a Public Religion Research poll from October 2008 which showed that young evangelicals are less opposed to the expansion of social services than older generations. This generational gap difference also extends to positions on same-sex marriage and military strength.

Young evangelicals favor expanding government's role in providing social services and abandoning traditional social policies, but Sullivan described them as "nonideological," "socially-conscious, cause-focused and controversy-averse." In fact, "liberal" seemed to be the only label Sullivan refused to apply, instead insisting that young evangelicals still remain "fairly conservative."

Sullivan quoted Don Miller, Christian author of "Blue Like Jazz," who said that using labels takes away from their true identity. "We're not like Pat Robertson. We're not like Republicans. We're not like our parents." Miller certainly isn't like Republicans. As Sullivan noted, he's a registered Democrat who campaigned for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.