The Seattle Times ran an article this week, Young, evangelical ... for Obama?, that says exactly the same thing. Interestingly, the article leads with Michael Dudley, a sophomore at Seattle Pacific University and son of an evangelical preacher, who says, "I think a lot of Christians are having trouble getting behind everything the Republicans stand for." A sentiment I believe resonates with many in our generation.
The article also cites a study by the Pew Forum showing that support for the GOP among young evangelicals has dropped 15%. While Pew reports that 19% of white evangelicals now vote democrat, only 5% of the 15% of evangelicals who have left the GOP now affiliate with the Democratic party. The others are what Shane Claiborne, author of Jesus for President, says are socially-conservative but globally aware. "I don't think it's a new evangelical left," Claiborne told the Seattle Times. "There's a new evangelical stuck-in-the-middle." These middle-dwelling Christ-followers are nomads, gypsies, wanderers in the land of the unaffiliated "independent" bloc.
This rise in independent voting among evangelicals is catalogued in detail in Marcia Ford's new book, We the Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter (Tyndale, 2008). The cover describes this group perfectly: "We are independent voters, neither Republican red nor democratic blue. Many of us are people of faith who are tired of partisanship in the church. We believe that together we can bring about radical reform by avoiding partisan politics and finding creative solutions to our nation's many problems. Starting now."
I predict this GOP exodus among evangelicals will continue unless, as I have stated, one or both of the parties adjust. If the GOP develops agressive platforms on issues like poverty, human rights and the environment or the Democrats can begin embracing non-negotiable issues like traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life, they will likely scoop up these evangelical misfits. Unfortunately, I don't see either solution happening anytime soon, which leaves many a young evangelical wandering in the wilderness for an indefinite period of time.
How do you feel about politics and the American political landscape?
Are you sensing this shift among your friends and peers?