Support for Rubio surges among evangelical leaders

World Magazine has been surveying the candidate preferences of over 100 evangelical leaders.  As we blogged about a month ago, their pick was Marco Rubio.  Today that support is even greater, with 53% of the churchmen saying he is their #1 or #2 choice.  The support for Jeff Bush, though, has plummeted.

And Donald Trump is at the very bottom of Republican contenders, with only 5% saying he is #1 or #2, and 81% saying they would never vote for him.  That’s rather different from rank-and-file evangelicals, 23% of whom support Trump, though Ben Carson–that other outsider who is also near the top of the polls–has passed him with that demographic at 29%.  Carson, the African-American surgeon who is a devout Christian of the Seventh Day Adventist tradition, must not be forgotten. [Read more...]

When Christian voters support the least Christian candidate

There once was a time when evangelical voters favored candidates who were Christians and who modeled “family values.”  Today the favorite candidate among evangelical voters is someone who says he has never repented of his sins, has been married three times, brags about his sexual conquests, and has made much of his fortune by building gambling casinos.

At least those who once called themselves “the moral majority” can no longer be accused of being “judgmental” in their politics.

Is this indifference to a candidate’s faith and morals a sign of political maturity in the Christian right?

Or is it the end of the Christian right, with its members caring more about such issues as immigration more than they do moral or religious issues? [Read more...]

Pastors defying the IRS by politicking from the pulpit

More and more pastors are endorsing particular candidates from the pulpit, purposefully defying the IRS law for non-profit tax-exempt organizations.  So far the IRS is ignoring the violations, but the pastors are goading the agency by sending it tapes of their sermons.

Is this a violation of Romans 13?  Also, under Romans 13, shouldn’t churches just pay taxes, thus preserving their ability to preach whatever they want?  Or can you make a case for this kind of civil disobedience?  There is also, of course, the theological issue of what is supposed to be preached from the pulpit–namely, Christ and Him crucified for sinners, as opposed to worldly powers and principalities.  Or can you give a theological reason for preaching about political candidates? [Read more...]

Back to the social gospel

Hillary Clinton cited her commitment to the “social gospel” in a speech to United Methodists.   That goes back to the 19th century when many Protestants said that instead of emphasizing the gospel of eternal salvation in Heaven through Christ, they should emphasize a gospel of building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

The social gospel, which inspired all kinds of social reforms and progressive political activism,  became the hallmark of liberal theology.   After World War II, even in liberal theological circles, neo-orthodoxy reacted against the utopianism of the social gospel, though in the 1960s it came back with liberation theology.  Conservative theologies, of course, rejected the social gospel, but today there is arguably a social gospel of the right. [Read more...]

Pulling back from the culture wars?

Church historian Martin Marty discusses how conservative Christians are pulling back from the culture wars.  He cites the leadership of Pope Francis for the Roman Catholics and Russell Moore for the Southern Baptists.  An additional factor is the increasing secularization of the conservative movement, citing the Tea Party’s general indifference to moral issues the church has been concerned with.  (He might have added the active atheism and hostility to Christianity of the hard-core libertarian followers of Ayn Rand.)

Read what Dr. Marty has to say–and what I have to say about what he says– after the jump.   [Read more...]

Prayer and Protest

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the civil rights protest that featured Martin Luther King, Jr., giving his eloquent “I Have a Dream” speech.  The Washington Post printed a number of accounts from people who were there.

Raymond S. Blanks tells about meeting at his Baptist congregation and holding a prayer service before getting on the bus to Washington.  He describes marchers singing hymns and listening to sermons. “Before noon,” he recalls, “the Mall was transformed into a place of prayer, protest and pride.” [Read more...]