A group of prominent Evangelicals has urged Christian conservatives to expand their concerns beyond “single-issue politics” in a new 19-page document examining the place of Evangelicals in political life.
The document, called “An Evangelical Manifesto,” was signed by more than 70 theologians, pastors, and other figures. It warns Christians against adopting any one political view and too closely mixing religion and politics.
"That way faith loses its independence, Christians become 'useful idiots' for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology," they wrote.
The manifesto asks for “an expansion of our concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage." It also condemns anti-intellectualism among fundamentalists and the many U.S. evangelicals who “pose as victims.”
Drafters and early signers of the document include Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in California; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners Magazine; and Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters.
The document argues that the culture war has become a “holy war” with a “dangerous incubation of conflicts, hatreds and lawsuits.”
"Our problem is not mislabeling by the press or rebranding because we have a bad image," Os Guiness, an evangelical scholar and a drafter of the document, told the Associated Press. "The problem is reality. Much of evangelicalism is not evangelical."
Organizers of the manifesto insisted they did not time the release for the presidential election. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has had difficulty winning over evangelicals.
According to the Associated Press, John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life, said the document was relevant to both major political parties.
“Republicans need to realize that evangelicals care about a lot of things," Green said. "The message to Democrats is similar: Don't ignore us. If you pursue the right issues and have the right platform, there are many evangelicals who will consider voting for you.”
James Dobson, founder of the conservative group Focus on the Family, reviewed the document and was asked to sign it, Dobson spokesman Gary Schneeberger said. Dobson reportedly consulted the group’s board of directors but did not sign it “due to myriad concerns about the effort,” according to Schneeberger.
Schneeberger said one of Dobson’s concerns was that no African-American pastors or theologians were on the invitation list.
Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant group in the country, said he was not asked to sign the document, the Associated Press reports.
Janice Shaw Crouse, director of the Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, weighed-in on the document saying that it was “blurring the distinctions between liberal and conservative” and would confuse Christian voters about important issues like opposition to abortion and gay marriage.
To read the entire manifesto go to: http://www.evangelicalmanifesto.com/