If we pretend that progressive evangelicals are not REALLY evangelical, then all evangelicals must be conservatives, and therefore progressive evangelicals cannot really be evangelicals

Racist, AIDS-denying spokesman for the American Family Association Bryan Fischer says progressive evangelicals are solely to blame for the defeat of Mitt Romney.

Fischer is referring to the nearly 7 million evangelical Christians who voted to re-elect President Barack Obama.

“It’s hard to overstate the extent of the progressive failure here,” David French writes of the 2012 elections.

While I think Fischer is an idiot and that he’s overstating his case, I’m happy to accept this “blame” if doing so further gets under his skin. You’re welcome, Mr. Fischer. Any time.

But while millions of evangelicals said a resounding “No” to the agenda of the religious right, it’s wrong of Fischer to isolate us for special credit/blame. As Martin E. Marty said, the majority of Americans, “who voted against the Religious Right leadership included millions of evangelicals, most Catholics, mainline Protestants, significant numbers of black church members, and, yes, many non-churched citizens.”

David French — a proponent of that failing religious right agenda — offers his own creative take on the crushing disappointment he suffered Election Day, when his multi-year devotion to Mitt Romney ended in tears, as all such exquisitely intense, beautiful passions must.

French consoles himself by asserting that Tuesday’s overwhelming rejection of religious-right values somehow constitutes, above all, a defeat for progressive evangelicals. See, if we just reclassify all the evangelicals who voted for Obama as “post-evangelicals,” then it becomes very clear that evangelicals nearly all voted for Romney. Q.E.D.! All those progressive evangelicals Fischer blames for tipping the balance? Just reclassify them as really something else, call them:

Post-Evangelical dissenters (I say “post” because many of these political dissenters also dissent from key elements of Christian orthodoxy).

By “key elements of Christian orthodoxy” French apparently means the Holy Trinity. No, not the doctrine of the Trinity, but the three sacred “key elements” by which French defines the boundaries of the evangelical tribe: 1) opposing LGBT rights; 2) seeking to criminalize abortion; and 3) voting for Mitt Romney.

Zack Hunt has a thoughtful rebuttal of French’s “argument.” (He’s not addressing French specifically, but something like a less absurdly self-negating approximation of the same general idea that French attempts.)

Mark Silk breaks down the statistics that French’s claim of “progressive failure” ignores, citing the Public Religion Research Institute findings labeled “The End of the White Christian Strategy.”

But really the best response to French’s failed attempt to console himself by condemning other Christians as illegitimate comes from Nelson Muntz.

As Tony Jones notes, progressive Christians are newly emboldened by the momentum of their victories against paleo-culture warriors like French. Far from being silenced by the culture-warriors’ constant efforts to redefine tribal purity:

Progressives have begun to make their voices heard in new ways — at least in ways not heard for several decades. … Collectively, progressive versions of Christianity are gaining a foothold in the landscape of American cultural conversation.

Or as Carol Howard Merritt writes:

The last election showed the decline of the Religious Right’s power. Not only that, but the mute button is off. We can begin to hear progressive Christian voices, whether they come from those who grew up Evangelical and are now rejecting the views of their youth or they have been working for justice all along. And we can now claim that our work has been hard, but it has not been in vain.


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