John Micklethwait Discusses the Future of the Evangelical Left

Question: Could the Democratic Party become home to evangelicals?

Micklethwait:    I think it’s highly unlikely in the short term that the Democrats will be the party of the Evangelical Christianity. I think it is quite likely in the longer term that they will… in fact, it’s already happened, what’s changed if you look back at the different student, John Kerry and then Barack Obama or the sort of people around him, you have Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton very much running, trying to bring in “people of faith,” talking about their own religious experiences in a way that previous Democrats hadn’t.  There was a desperate effort to bring it in, and as I think you indicated, there are these issues that kind of creation care as they call the environment, there’s development poverty around the world, that’s an area where actually there’s a lot of similarity I think between the sort of likes of Obama and Rick Warren, they’re both looking at all these things.  And I think there’s 2 bits going on, on the religious rite, there’s sort of birth what some people call the new new rite which is much… many ways a much more modern, still quite hard, so very hard lined on abortion, still pretty hard lined on gay marriage but certainly has no wish to be seen as intolerant, particularly in young Evangelicals, you get that very, very strongly. That even if they don’t agree with gay marriage, they go out of their way to say that they have gay friends which may sound… it’s the way that people… sometimes intolerant people try to explain things but it is very much along those lines. On… within the democratic side, I just think the levels to which… you know, you have Howard Dean running, I think, in 2002 or 2004 who put the Book of Job in the New Testament, people were… Democrats used to be completely, utterly kind of 'Christophobic' I suppose that’s the word there, they are not obviously, as a religious man but they didn’t try to emanate that. I think now, Obama, very strongly did and that I think you need to do that, given the fact that most Americans, for better or worse, you need to give the impression that their values are somewhat closer to your and there are a lot of issues like poverty, like the environment where absolutely the Democrats are speaking to that.

Not in the short-term but maybe in the long-term, says the Economist editor.

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