On May 2, the Associated Press uncritically reported that an effort to clarify where "evangelicals" stand in the culture/political war in America is soon to be released. It is to be called "An Evangelical Manifesto" and is touted by the AP as a statement by "evangelicals" that "faith is now too political." That isn't all. The AP is claiming that it isn't just Christian leaders in general that are saying this but that it is "conservative Christian leaders" who are standing up and denouncing politics in religion. But a little investigation proves that "conservative leaders" is not a very good description of those who have signed onto this "manifesto." In fact, many of the most well-known conservative Christian leaders in the country have decided not to sign onto the "manifesto" and many more weren't even consulted or included in the creation of this highly political document that pretends it stands against politics.
Sadly, this "manifesto" that is claiming to want to take religion back from its political involvement is itself a political statement, one that was created by people that refused to include Christian leaders from the right side of the political spectrum. This so-called "manifesto" seems to be just another attempt by the political left to undermine the devotion of Christians to the political right.
And the AP is more than happy to help them along...
Conservative Christian leaders who believe the word "evangelical" has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.
The statement, called "An Evangelical Manifesto," condemns Christians on the right and left for "using faith" to express political views without regard to the truth of the Bible, according to a draft of the document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
If we are to just swallow whole what the AP is selling, we'd imagine that Christian leaders on the conservative side are upset over what has happened to their faith. In fact, the AP flat out declares it to be so.
The document is the latest chapter in the debate among conservative Christians about their role in public life. Most veteran leaders believe the focus should remain on abortion and marriage, while other evangelicals—especially in the younger generation—are pushing for a broader agenda. The manifesto sides with those seeking a wide-range of concerns beyond "single-issue politics."
This so-called "manifesto" has not been released, so we do not have a full list of all those who have signed onto the letter. But many details about the contents and those who have signed onto the thing have been reported. And what we find is that a large number of those Christian leaders who are associated with powerful right leaning organizations were refused a place at the table of the creation of this document.
This raises a lot of questions. For instance, if known conservative leaders weren't involved or haven't signed onto this thing, how can it be claimed to be apolitical much less a product of "conservative Christian leaders"?
Warren Smith, the publisher of the Evangelical Press News Service, has reported that something seems amiss with this "conservative" project.
The list of people who have not been asked to sign it, or who have chosen not to, is as revealing as the list of those who have, or will. Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins both told me they had not seen the "Manifesto." Tom Minnery, executive vice president of Focus on the Family and the organization's "point person" on public policy issues said neither he nor James Dobson has signed the document.
Other conservative evangelical leaders who often speak out on political issues have been kept out of the process. That list includes Rick Scarborough of Vision America, and former White House speechwriter and Beverly LaHaye Institute senior fellow Janice Crouse.
Also shunned, at least so far: the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land, Ohio-based Phil Burress of Citizens For Community Values, Faith2Action's Janet Folger, homeschool guru Michael Farris, and Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright.
There is also a growing list of evangelical heavyweights who have been asked to sign but have (so far) refused -- due either to flaws in the document or, as one prominent evangelical leader told me, to the "exclusivity" of the list of signatories.
This project is beginning to look more like a group of Christians with anti-conservative views attempting to steal the mantle of leadership away from those who are now associated with Christianity in America. But to what end? We know that over the last year the political left has made major attempts to claim Christianity for themselves.
The left has made a concerted campaign to take over Christianity and use it for the purposes of the Democrat Party and the cultural left in America today. People like Dr. Tony Campolo, and Jim Wallis have been known to work closely with the Democrat Party. The failed presidential bid by John Edwards also made attempts to work with the Christian left. Various organizations have sprung up since the late 1990s to further the leftist agenda in politics.
Is this "Evangelical Manifesto" just another attempt by the far left in America to co-opt Christianity in America? It's a bit hard to believe otherwise since the people that put this project together studiously excluded so many prominent conservative Christians.
But one thing is for sure, the MSM will present them as "conservative Christian leaders" even as hardly any known and real conservative leaders are involved in this project.
(Photo credit: theramblings.org)