How many political issues do American evangelicals care about? Apparently, just two: abortion and same-sex marriage. At least that is the impression you’d get if you read about evangelicals in the mainstream press.
Earlier today, CNN updated their “Fast Facts” page on former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Aside from general biographical information and a timeline of his career, the page includes only three “Other Facts,” including this one:
Evangelical Christian who opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.
Australia’s Herald Sun describes another Minnesota politician, Michele Bachmann, in similar terms:
The former tax lawyer staked out positions against big government, with calls for slashing taxes and debt, while touting her credentials as a Christian evangelical opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Abortion and same-sex marriage. And that’s that.
With the media constantly connecting evangelicalism with these issues it’s no surprise that many people believe these are the only two moral, cultural and political issues that matter to evangelical Christians. As important as these issues are, though, they are just two of a multitude of concerns that comprise the public agenda of American evangelicals.
Evangelicalism is religious movement that span across a broad range, from left to right, across the political spectrum. There is no singular “evangelical perspective” on any political issue. And on doctrinal matters? Even that question will cause fierce debates.
Yet for many journalists, politics is the metanarrative that frames all others belief structures. Since I can’t convince them to stop treating religion as a subset of politics, I thought it might be useful to at least help them broaden their perspective by pointing out how evangelicals tend to faith prioritizes and influences political views. I’ve been an evangelical my entire life and a close observer and participant of evangelical trends — particularly in the media and politics — for the past fifteen years. But you don’t need to be an insider to recognize the main concerns of the evangelical community — especially evangelical leaders — tends to revolve around six key principles.
These six principles, of course, do not comprise an exhaustive list. While I incorporated many of the themes from the National Association of Evangelicals’ paper on civic engagement, the list remains rather subjective and based on my own experience. Still, while it won’t provide a definitive answer to the question of what American evangelicals care about, I believe it’ll show that the political concerns are more broad-based than is often realized. The six principles are: