Tag Archives: politics

Who Defines Evangelicalism? An Interview with Mark Noll

29 Apr

President Donald Trump holds an Evangelicals for Trump rally at a Miami megachurch in January of 2020. (Adam DelGiudice/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media/Getty)

Now more than three years into Donald Trump’s presidency, amid the coronavirus pandemic and his run for reelection, the debate over his white evangelical base continues to rage. Columns and editorials have been written, pundits have clashed, friendships and family ties have been strained. Through it all, some basic questions have underwritten the exchange—What is an evangelical? To whom does the label apply? What policies and politicians should an evangelical support? Of all the recent books tackling these questions on American evangelicalism—and there are many—one stands out as complete and comprehensive.

Mark Noll, David Bebbington, and George Marsden—all esteemed scholars of American religious history—have assembled an impressive line-up of contributors in their edited volume, Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be. Bebbington, now retired from Scotland’s University of Sterling, is perhaps best known for outlining four main characteristics of evangelicalism. Marsden and Noll, who held the same chair in succession at Notre Dame, have also long explored the salient traits of evangelicals, including their role in higher education. In Noll’s 1994 book about the tension between his twin loves of intellectualism and evangelicalism, he famously wrote, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

In this latest volume, Noll has helped bring together many minds to ponder different facets of the questions facing evangelicalism. Among them are names that have appeared in the pages of Religion & Politics and around the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, including Darren DochukMolly WorthenKristin Kobes Du MezJemar TisbyTimothy Keller, and Thomas S. KiddEric C. Miller spoke recently with Noll about the book by phone. Their conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

So begins a fascinating interview by Eric C. Miller of historian and evangelical Mark Noll about a new book on evangelicalism. You may read the entire Religion and Politics piece here.

Presidential candidate and former pastor Mark Charles confronts American history

12 Sep

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Mark Charles may be the only 2020 presidential candidate who can list working as a Christian pastor on his résumé. But when you ask him how his faith informs his politics, he doesn’t exactly preach.

So begins Jack Jenkins’ Religion News Service report on my friend Mark Charles’ presidential campaign as an independent. You may read the entire story here.

Church Ladies and Grassroots Political Religion

16 Apr

A large group of women carry many signs, including a large banner that reads "The Women's Wave Rises: 2019 Women's March on Washington."

Following the excitement of the 2017 Women’s March, many white suburban women in swing districts revitalized the Democratic Party from the ground up. In their research in several swing states, historian Lara Putnam and political scientist Theda Skocpol looked past the massive one-day demonstration to find that college-educated and middle-aged women had returned home to invest in local Democratic politics. Motivated in part in opposition to the 52% of white women who voted for Trump, “middle America’s mothers and grandmothers,” some of whom had been Republicans and independents, formed local chapters of Indivisible, attended town halls, and volunteered for campaigns for the 2018 election. Many of these new activists invoked a shared gender identity, in this case informed by a distaste for Trump’s “brand of male authority.” Yet as critics of the Putnam and Skocpol report have noted, liberal white feminists have often advanced their causes by drawing on white supremacy instead of battling it. Many newly politicized white women have had to reckon with their racial privilege as they have worked alongside African American women and men and others who have been traditionally part of the Democratic base. In their relational organizing, and in their confrontation with their racial privilege, the experiences of today’s white women political activists resemble those of the United Council of Church Women (UCCW) in the mid-twentieth century.

So begins Gale Kenny’s concise essay on some of the recent history of white Protestant women’s political activism. You may read the rest of her OAH Process post here.

An Iowa Governor Worth Remembing: Robert E. Ray, 1928-2018

9 Jul

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Image result for Robert Ray Tai Dam

My friend Jim Schaap has posted a fine remembrance of former Governor Ray. It is worth your read, here.

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On Evangelicals, a Christian America, and Supporting Trump–an Evangelical Historian’s Lament

29 Jun

John Fea is a Christian, a historian, and a friend. His new book, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, has just been released by Eerdmans Publishing. At History News Network, he has an opinion piece about evangelicals, thinking historically, and politics. You may read the piece here. (See his related piece at The Atlantic on evangelicals and fear here.)

Romans 13 and Political Theory: An Interview with Micah Watson

23 Jun

At the Twelve, Debra Reinstra inteviews a political science colleague at Calvin College on thinking well–thinking Christianly, so to speak–about being a citizen in light of the U.S. Attorney General’s invoking of Romans 13 in regard to U.S. immigration policy. You may read the interview (it is not lengthy) here.

IS THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT DRIVING AMERICANS AWAY FROM RELIGION?

2 May

A religious cross is seen as the moon is illuminated by sunlight reflected off the Earth during a total lunar eclipse on October 8th, 2014, in Los Angeles, California.

Religion in America has been rocked in recent decades by two societal shifts: the rise of Christian evangelicals as a right-wing political force, and the increasing number of people who decline to affiliate with any faith tradition.

New research presents evidence that these trends, usually discussed separately, are in fact related. It reports the rate at which people disassociate themselves from religion is higher in states where the Christian right exerts its political muscle.

So begins Tom Jacobs’ report at Pacific Standard on some new research. You may read the entire report here.

Can “Evangelicalism” Survive Trump?

14 Dec

Photo: Lisa Svelmoe

In fact what we call “evangelicalism” is made up of a vast number of different churches and organizations from around the world that are mostly disconnected with each other, even though they share a number of basic common features (notably, “biblicism,” “conversionism,” “crucicentrism,” and “activism,” as defined by David Bebbington). And if we start our thinking about “evangelicalism” by recognizing this fundamental diversity, that invites a second thought experiment: what if we thought first of “evangelicalism” in the light of its many majority world manifestations, instead of first through an American lens?

So writes historian George Marsden on evangelicalism. To read his entire post at the Anxious Bench, click here.

California’s Midlife Crisis

27 May

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Hector Tobar reflects on California as the primary there nears. This election year, youthful optimism is in short supply among jaded Angelenos.

Source: California’s Midlife Crisis – The New York Times

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The Joy of Caucusing

26 Jan

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

It’s fun to live in Iowa! Who knew? But every four years, we are the center of the political universe. More than just fun, the Iowa caucuses have rebuilt my faith in American politics. They have transformed me into an interested, active participant. The allure is hard to resist. Beyond fun, it is the hands-on closeness, and the grassroots participation … Read More

So writes RCA pastor Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell at The Twelve. Read more about the experience of caucusing in Iowa here: The Joy of Caucusing – THE TWELVE

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