During election season, we will continue to see stories that make grand, sweeping statements about voter groups. As we saw with The Economist a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times makes some assumptions about evangelicals where an editor could have easily asked “where do you see evidence for your assertion?”
The piece suggests that evangelicals aren’t necessarily in line with the Republican Party (shocking, right?) or as the headline puts it, “Obama could have a prayer among Ohio’s white evangelicals.” I’ll pull out a few portions of article and ask some editing questions to show you some examples.
Still, when a group of religious leaders in Ohio held two days of meetings in Cincinnati recently to talk about economic and racial justice, issues usually associated with the political left, there was Beard, a fourth-generation Pentecostal preacher with a disarming smile, a shaved head and a set of convictions that knock holes in the stereotypes about white evangelical Protestants.
What are those stereotypes? Are we supposed to just assume some?
White evangelical voters are widely presumed to march in lock step with the right wing of the Republican Party. The reality is more nuanced.
Who makes the above assumption? Scholars? An average Joe?
In fact, various polls indicate that Obama lags behind Romney among all white Americans who express a religious faith. At the moment, the president is in a statistical dead heat with Romney only because of the strong support he gets from black Protestants, Latino Catholics and Americans who are unaffiliated with any religious tradition. (The Pew survey found, rather astonishingly, that 0% of black Protestants polled supported Romney.)
Why is the percentage finding of Romney supporters “rather astonishingly”? What percentage of the electorate are they (or at least in battleground Ohio)?
While Obama will never win anywhere near a majority of white evangelicals, his hope lies in mobilizing what support he can among religious voters and keeping the focus away from divisive social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, on which his views run counter to theirs.
Wait, didn’t Obama just publicly announce his support for same-sex marriage? How is he keeping the focus off of it? Did I miss something?
However, the organization has also made a concerted effort to reach out to white evangelicals, the group most associated with the Christian right. Several white evangelical pastors turned out for the event, and at times seemed a bit bemused by the unfamiliar surroundings.
Who (scholars, journalists or anyone else) is still talking about “the Christian right”? How would you describe how someone “seemed a bit bemused”? Are there specifics you can give to show what pastors’ bemusement looks like?
“It’s not monolithic, especially with the millennials,” said Rev. Dave Workman, pastor at the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, referring to the generation that grew up around 2000. “It’s changing rapidly, and they don’t want to be known as just a two-issue church.”
Those two issues, of course, are abortion and same-sex marriage.
Oh, of course! Because social justice-oriented groups like the Salvation Army, World Vision, Compassion International and many more organizations haven’t existed for several decades now? Listen, if anyone tells you evangelicalism isn’t a monolithic voter bloc, strike it from your notes and move along. It’s true, but it’s also one of many cliches we’ve heard for several years now.
Although he sees abortion as a “justice issue for a human being with a beating heart,” Beard also believes in “a whole pro-life position” that focuses on what happens after someone is born. “The Scriptures,” he said, “call on us to engage with the needs of the poor and the widow and the immigrant.”
All of that can lead a theological conservative to a more liberal political position.
Are you sure? Because that’s quite the leap. The whole story is filled with leaps, one where an editor could have asked more questions.
Image of hand raising via Shutterstock.