Friday, October 31, 2008

A New Generation of Religion and Politics

My recent interview with PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly has been posted on their website and is titled "Jonathan Merritt: A New Generation of Religion and Politics." Rather than add a bunch of commentary on this post, I would rather you go check it out for yourself and let me know your thoughts. Where do you agree with me? Where do you disagree? Do you you think I am crazy?

The full spot will begin airing this weekend, and is based on a new survey of young evangelicals being released. You can find some of the details here. The full PBS segment on younger evangelicals includes B-roll footage and narration as well as other's opinions.

On a side note, you will notice that I am wearing a To Write Love on Her Arms shirt for the interview. TWLOHA is an amazing organization that deserves a minute of your time. Check them out.

**Update: The whole television report has been posted on PBS' website.**

**Update: The following email was sent out today from Marc Andreas, who serves as VP for the top US adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services:
Dear Friends of Bethany,
Here's a link to a short 3-minute video of national expert Jonathan Merritt that does an excellent job of representing the philosophical shift going on in the younger evangelical community. This is having a significant impact on our marketing strategy as we reach out to new adoptive families, foster families, donors and volunteers in the greater church community. Our message of global orphan care resonates very strongly with this younger audience. Thanks for being a partner with us as we reach out to help the more than 143 million orphans around the world.
(The only problem I have is that he calls me a "national expert." More like "national troublemaker.")**


Anonymous said...

Good review Jonathan. I would be interested to hear what they didn't play in the clip.

I agree with your point on abortion. However, in the same light as you point; that to turn a blind eye on the conditions that cause death around the world (such as unclean water etc) is the ultimate hypocrisy; the equally abhorrent flip side is (I believe) to turn a "blind" eye on the killing of the unborn is equally hypocritical. In this case (the case of life), there is no "lesser of two evils". Killing one to let the other live is evil no matter how you address it or try to justify it. I am not saying that you try to justify - but there are plenty on both sides of the fence that suggest so.

I also disagree with what you said about aligning with more liberal or conservative “platforms”. I don’t think that Christians can ever really align with either if we truly walk in Jesus’ teaching. I like to tell people that I’m not right or left wing, I’m not even on the plane.

Just my humble opinions.

Jonathan Merritt said...


I totally agree with your last paragraph from a public standpoint. The fact of the matter is, Jesus never aligned himself with any of the partisan political factions in his day, and we shouldn't either.

But on the flip side, that platform can be realistically disingenuous. In a two party system like ours, no one votes in a 50/50 split. Inevitably, everyone leans (usually heavily) to either the liberal or conservative side. That is where I focused my statement. For some time, the scale has tipped clearly to one side and now it is shifting. And this is historically remarkable.

While you may say that you are "not even on the plane," if you vote regularly, I bet you end up sitting on one wing more than the other. If not, kudos to you. You are a rare breed.

Anonymous said...

You are a rare breed

With this I can agree... ;)

A friend of mine just recently wrote to me (widely liberal and into discourse and debate)...

He said "Usually, in my experience, right wingers tend to be informed via Fox and Rush. That said, the arguments are easy targets for the informed, i.e. those of us who watch both sides. You are turning out to be a uniquely interesting case in my experience, given that you are A: Unplugged, and B: Christian. Dont run into many of your type in current experiences."


Katie Corbett said...

What a great interview... I really appreciate the point you made the very beginning about "good neighboring." I know that I,so often am concerned with certain global initiatives and how I can make this world a better place that I often forget to look right outside my door and offer direct care to those around me. What an awesome responsibility God has given to us.

In the end of your interview you said that young evangelicals are striving to live their lives consistently with the teachings of Jesus. I could not agree w/ your more. I feel there has been a huge push recently to really get into the Bible and see what it really says, not just believe what our parents and grandparents have been telling us. I know for me, my daily goal is to be an accurate depiction of Christ who lives in me.

Thank you for representing Christ well in your words and actions. Good Job!

Anonymous said...

Yes Katie...that is correct. There [is] a huge push recently to really get into the Bible and see what it really says, not just believe what our parents and grandparents have been telling us.

This(for me at least) even includes not only 'public issues' but also why the church celebrates some of the ways we do.

There are times when I think even in the Christian/Evangelical/Protestant churches we are more like pre-reformation England when scripture was only read in Latin by the bishop and the common man didn't read nor were they told they could understand. We take too much for granted when we hear a 'pastor' preach....

Shrewd and vipers and harmless as doves isn't just when dealing with the world outside of the church.

Katie Corbett said...

I definately agree that we often take for granted hearing our pastors speak to us and no matter how great the teaching is,it should never take the place our of our own study of God's word...that being said, I definately don't think we should ever discount what they say to us or push it aside. God places godly men and women in our lives to go before us and teach us...which wquite valuable to me as well. :-)