Monday, May 12, 2008

Young, Evangelical and for who? What?

Young, evangelical ... for Obama? By Haley Edwards a Seattle Times staff reporter notes that 15 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 29, a group traditionally a shoo-in for the GOP, say they no longer identify with the Republican Party. This comes from a September 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. College-age and 20-something Christians may be leaving the GOP, but only 5 percent of young evangelicals have joined the Democrats, according to the Pew survey. The other 10 percent are wandering the political wilderness, somewhere between "independent" and "unaffiliated." Shane Claiborne, a Philadelphia Christian activist and author of "Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals," has a different name for these folks: "political misfits."
Claiborne has traveled around the country the past several years, speaking and preaching mostly to college-age Christians who are "both socially conservative and globally aware." That makes them disenchanted with both major parties, he said.
"It's not about liberal or conservative, or Democrats or Republicans," he said. "I don't think it's a new evangelical left. ... There's a new evangelical stuck-in-the-middle."
"I think it's a new movement starting," said Amy Archibald, 19, a sophomore at the evangelical school. "Most of us would never blindly follow the old Christian Right anymore. James Dobson has nothing to do with us. A lot of us are taking apart the issues, and thinking, 'OK, well, [none of the candidates] fits what I'm looking for exactly.' But if you're going to vote, you've got to take your pros with your cons."
Judy Naegeli, 25, who works at a Christian philanthropy, says easy access to information about the world via social-networking sites, YouTube and blogs is the reason her generation is more concerned with social justice.
"It's changed our perspective. ... Each generation chooses their cause, and ours is AIDs in Africa, or poverty or social justice," she said.
Tyler Braun, 23, a Portland seminary student who opposes abortion and gay rights, said he'll probably vote for Obama because, since he'd would like to see U.S. troops leave Iraq.
Braun, the seminary student, said he's not totally committed to any candidate yet.
"I just keep thinking, if Jesus were alive now, he wouldn't necessarily be voting Republican," he said.

I am not surprised with this study and change in the mood of our country and young people. I wonder what this says to the church? And I wonder what we the church have to say to them? Are we listening to people like Shane Claiborne to hear what they have to say? Or have we lost touch and quit listening and caring? Perhaps Obama is listening or represents the possibility of change and betterment in our country. How can we the church do a better job than we are doing?

The Methodist church continues to shrink in numbers, in numbers of young people, and young people going into the ministry. Somewhere we are missing the boat, lost touch, and maybe we are even quickly sinking. What are we going to do about it? I don't think we have the luxory to say "Oh they'll come back when they have kids." cause it may really be too late then. And I don't think we should ever do that. Perhaps we need a changing of the guard, a willingness, a honesty, and an integrity that we don't have right now.


Rev SS said...

Regarding your closing comments ... change the "maybe" to "definitely" and hear my loud AMEN ... (Methodists and Presbyterians both need this) We need to be re-formed and blown about by the Holy Spirit into a body of Christ that is about his work instead of our comfort and control!

Anonymous said...

yes, as an Illinois resident seeing so much Obama, I'm wondering why the churchy folks aren't saying these things, and meaning it. I second the "definitely" and Amen!
Amy @ windandmercy

Sally said...

..we need a change- well said we in the UK need a change too!