“Evangelical” Does Not Equal “Political”

When journalists talk about so-called “evangelical voters”, the former are doing the public a disservice. That is because the word evangelical has nothing to do with politics.

An evangelical is a believer in Messiah Jesus who strives to share the Gospel message with those who have not yet heard it or read it. Such a believer can do so without ever being involved in political issues.

If evangelicals register to vote in elections, then they don’t have join any political party. If they do join one, then they can join any political party – including the Democratic Party – and still be evangelicals.

When journalists say “evangelical voters”, what they mean is “church-going voters who mix religion with politics”.

This mixing of religion with politics is detrimental to evangelism. In a blog post immediately following the election of President Donald Trump, Reverend Thabiti Anyabwile has this to say:

“I think the evangelical turnout for Mr. Trump signals several fatal weaknesses in the movement. First, the [evangelical] movement has surrendered any claims to the moral high ground in electoral politics. Even though many evangelicals chose Trump while having significant reservations about his character, they nevertheless chose Trump. They did not choose character. To be clear, Mrs. Clinton was not an objectively better moral option. But not voting, voting third party, or writing in, as many said they would, were also options. The lion’s share of evangelicals put character concerns aside and pulled the lever for a man whose character is every bit as “flawed” as President Clinton’s, whose impeachment evangelicals supported. For that choice, as many have already observed, the moral high ground is lost.”

In the same post, Rev. Anyabwile states, “The number of evangelicals who put gospel and character before politics and party are small.”

Just how bad that politics interferes with the evangelism is revealed in a story that Russell Moore tells:

“I remember being a church one time where a young man, maybe 14 years old, came down to the front and was talking to me—African American young man, it was the first time he had ever been to church—and he was asking me questions about heaven. He was wearing an Obama t-shirt. But this man in the church, an elderly white man, walked by and said, ‘You need to get a different t-shirt.’ And my response was to say, ‘Here is this kid, his first time in church, asking how to inherit eternal life, and all this guy cared about was his t-shirt.’”

That elderly white man might have been a member of that church, but if he had been an evangelical, then he wouldn’t have said what he said.

In a commentary for the Gospel Coalition, Russell Moore explains the flaw in trying to use the muscle of the state to make people conform to religious beliefs:

“There is precedent in the Bible, of course, for a religion using the state to force people to externally conform to it. But those examples are of Nebuchadnezzar and the Beast that John saw rising from the sea (Rev. 13), not the church of Jesus Christ. Religious freedom means religious freedom for everyone, including those who reject our gospel. We plead with our neighbors to be reconciled with God, as long as it is still the day of salvation (2 Cor. 5–6). We long for that change to happen the only way it can: by the Spirit’s enlivening power, not by some city council’s roll call vote. External conformity, backed up by government power, is easier to achieve than Great Commission gospel advance. It also leads nowhere but to death.”

The Gospel message transcends all politics, which is why the words evangelical and voters shouldn’t be linked together.

So, what should journalists call church-going voters who mix religion with politics? Why not simply call them church-going voters? After all, that is what they are.

Evangelical Preacher

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  • Perhaps Robertson missed it, but this country was founded to protect the free practice of Religion. Religious persons, communities, and organizations are free to inform their political choices in light of their faith. Our government is barred from impeding the free practice of religion, not vice versa.

    • Brett Buck

      Of course he missed it. He’s so busy explaining to us all how the world works, and composing one pompous but illucid lecture after another or blankly watching an Alf marathon but not getting the joke, that he doesn’t have time for the pedestrian business of researching his topic.

      It’s almost like performance art – bad performance art.

      • Scalia

        Like a broken record, David repeats himself without even hinting to address the fact that everything he raises has been thoroughly refuted on these boards. This piece is so rife with stupidity, it should not be dignified with a response.

        • Walter_Cronanty

          I was really disappointed when I realized this wasn’t “I’m Superior Because I Self-Identify as a Moderate, Part III” [or, maybe it really is – can’t tell from logic of post].

  • Paul Hooson

    Some churches so self-absorb themselves in politics that God is hardly ever mentioned in their churches. Some, like the late D. James Kennedy come to mind where his Fort Lauderdale church still largely functions as a political cult. For the last three weeks, his program has attacked the antiKKK Southern Poverty Law Center as an example.

    A joke comes to mind. – A black man tries unsuccessfully to join a segregated white church for many years, but is denied membership each time. Finally, in frustration he tearfully prays to God. “Lord, I’ve been trying for years to join that church”. But God comforts him, “Don’t worry my son. I’ve been trying to get into that church for many years myself”.

    • jim_m

      Paul is so obvious to what is going on that he fails to realize thatD James Kennedy died a decade ago. Funny how it is that he hasn’t moved on in his prerecorded programs. Plus, his TV and radio ministry are not sermons from the pulpit and should never be confused with such.

      Paul, you are an ignorant bigot.

      • Paul Hooson

        No. His adopted daughter, Jennifer. continues a far right political cult and TV show entitled TRUTHS THAT TRANSFORM. Next weekend they are running a half hour attack program against THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER. It is completely false that THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER which has sued the KKK for wrongful deaths for lynchings of blacks or only lists organizations who seek to obstruct the equal rights of the gay community somehow was behind the Rep. Scalise shooting. Among many other websites, the mentally disturbed shooter has only surfed the SPLC among many more Websites.

        The political cult founded by D. James Kennedy once ignorantly proposed some sort of internment or concentration camps for those that were HIV positive and other extremist views.

        • Retired military

          “once ignorantly proposed some sort of internment or concentration camps for those that were HIV positive and other extremist views.”

          gee Lberals today call for the internment, imprisonment or banishment of conservatives from American.

        • jim_m

          The SPLC attacks ALL non leftist groups as racist hate group while it only started allowing blacks n its board in the last decade when people started pointing out that the SPLC was more white than the KKK.

          The SPLC was behind the violence at the FRC and was a motivating factor behind the baseball shooting and the attempted assassination of Scalise.

          You are supporting a violent hate group.

          • It’s what Bircher’s do…

          • Paul Hooson

            I was sent numerous invitations to join the SPLC or donate and refused all requests to do so. I don’t like belonging to or contributing to any political group, but I donated many hours of work or money to Christian and Jewish charity organizations instead. Followers of Dr. Kennedy’s political cult felt it too unpopular to suggest that rounding up homosexuals in internment camps was too extreme, but hoped that soapboxing that those who are HIV+ could be interned could be sold politically. And, D. James Kennedy even supported banning publications sold by the PLAYBOY Magazine corporation, although none of the publications would meet legal definitions of obscenity. Issue by issue, D. James Kennedy’s political cult is an extremist organization who do not believe in the Bill Of Rights or the established rule of law. The SPLC only lists Kennedy’s organization as opposed to the civil rights of homosexuals, which is rather mild. They are not listed among violent groups such as the KKK who have committed numerous violent acts as well as murders.

            D. James Kennedy’s daughter, Jennifer Cassidy and six others were banned from the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in 2007 and operate their extremist political cult not part of the church now run by the grandson of Billy Graham. Billy Graham’s grandson has steered the church back to a religious message and is nonpolitical in their beliefs.

        • jim_m

          So the SPLC fights against the KKK? So What? The Nazis fought against the Communists. That didn’t make them a shining beacon of hope.

  • HpO

    You can tell yourself that, brother David Robertson, that “evangelical has nothing to do with politics”, but history isn’t on your side. And I’m talking church history of Evangelicals. Here’s a sample from Amy Black, “Evangelicals and Politics: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Headed”, Evangelicals, Magazine of National Association of Evangelicals, Fall 2016:

    “Throughout the 19th century, many evangelicals were active in social and political reform movements. … In the 1970s, (while) evangelicals tended to support Democrats … high-profile Christian leaders began to talk more publicly about politics, and … encourage theologically conservative Christians to get more involved. … Evangelical voters responded, providing strong support for Reagan in 1980 and 1984. … Since the 1980s, evangelicals have been a key Republican voting bloc in presidential elections (and) become an essential part of the Republican base. … The election of President George W. Bush energized conservative evangelicals (who, then) in 2004, … worked aggressively for Bush’s re-election, expecting that Bush would prioritize their agenda in a second term.”

  • Vagabond661

    Another pitiful attempt to silence the Religous Right.

    How moderate of you.

  • jim_m

    David labors under the misapprehension that the First Amendment requires the silencing of religious people on matters political.

    The reason people speak of evangelical, Catholic, Black, Hispanic, etc voters is that people with common belief sets and common life experience tend to vote in similar fashions. You claim that Evangelical and voter should never be used together in a sentence is like the bigoted news that refuses to describe the alleged rapist by his race.

    Refusing to identify the person by relevant characteristics only keeps everyone ignorant.

    • Vagabond661

      When you look at David’s work here on Wizbang as a whole, he seems to violate Wizbang’s own rules of engagement. He posts opinions which are whole or in part made up to bolster his beliefs.

      He’s been called out too many times by other bloggers for his tripe.

      Maybe it’s time to ban David.

      • Nope.

        • Vagabond661

          Well, it was it was a tongue in cheek comment, anyway.

          • jim_m

            David serves as a cautionary tale.

          • Madness takes its toll, please have exact change to hand?

  • yetanotherjohn

    For those who want a little theology on this subject, look up “Left hand kingdom and right hand kingdom”. When the founding fathers drafted the first amendment, the concept of the left and right hand kingdom was at its root. The idea in a nut shell is that God is in control. He is in control of the right hand kingdom, which is the church (aka the believers) and He is in control of the left hand kingdom, which is the various governments. It is through the right hand kingdom that God freely provides eternal salvation. It is through the left hand kingdom that God copes with some of the brokenness of this world through the government protecting us against wrong doers.
    As a believer, we are citizens of both the right hand and the left hand kingdoms. You should never let your opinions about people or events in the left hand kingdom interfere with what we are called to do in the right hand kingdom. The story of the young man in the Obama T-shirt (if true) shows that, horror of horrors, sinners go to church. But just as we should not let our opinions on left hand kingdom stuff interfere with right hand kingdom activities, we should let our right hand kingdom influences inform our left hand kingdom actions and thoughts.
    The first amendment metaphor of a wall between church and state doesn’t match up to the language of the first amendment nor the writings of our country’s founders. Government must not impinge on our conscience forcing us to believe or not believe something nor forcing us to act against our conscience. But that is not a restriction on us using our conscience to inform our decisions about what government should or should not do.
    As to the distinction between evangelical voters vs church-going voters, I think Dave is missing the point. Pollsters often break out Catholic voters as a distinct subset from evangelical voters. Both are church goers. The idea behind evangelical voters is trying to distinguish identifying characteristics of the voter, just as Black, White, male, female, college educated, over 55, etc. voters is identifying characteristics about those voters.
    gospel before politics.

  • Retired military

    How can you tell if the democrats and the msm (but I repeat myself) will say that religous speech is political? If they disagree with it then it will be political.
    democrat Example of each
    : Catholic stance on Abortion – Political
    Pope talks about illegal immigration – religous.

  • Wild_Willie

    “…our unalienable rights by our creator.” Hm? God given credit for rights in our official founding document? I guess to David he is an evangelical voter.

    The term evangelical voter is made up by the opposing party (dems) and the MSM. It means nothing. There is no way a true believer can NOT vote without relying on the beliefs of Jesus Christ. Just as people who hate GOD will vote against candidates that love God. If you truly believe in God and is not influenced in your total life by His teachings, I would hazard to guess you really do not have a strong relationship with God.

    We aren’t overlooking Trump’s character flaws, we have come to know the bigger sinners and lack of character plus totally compromised humans are currently in D.C. Most are bankrupt human beings who have sold their souls to the highest bidder. ww