Evangelical Coalition Issues Manifesto Calling for Less Politics, More Religion

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Evangelical leaders banded together last month to issue a statement calling for an end to the politicization of religion.

"We are not uncritical of unrestrained voluntarism and rampant individualism," the signers say, "but we utterly deplore the dangerous alliance between church and state, and the oppression that was its dark fruit. We Evangelicals trace our heritage, not to Constantine, but to the very different stance of Jesus of Nazareth."

In their "Evangelical Manifesto," the signers also criticized the excesses of the Religious Right and call for "an expansion of concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage."

"Christians from both sides of the political spectrum, left as well as right, have made the mistake of politicizing faith; and it would be no improvement to respond to a weakening of the religious right with a rejuvenation of the religious left," the Manifesto asserts. "Whichever side it comes from, a politicized faith is faithless, foolish, and disastrous for the church--and disastrous first and foremost for Christian reasons rather than constitutional reasons."

The document, unveiled at the National Press Club May 7, adds, "Called to an allegiance higher than party, ideology, and nationality, we Evangelicals see it our duty to engage with politics, but our equal duty never to be completely equated with any party, partisan ideology, economic system, or nationality.... The politicization of faith is never a sign of strength but of weakness."

Elsewhere the statement says, "We are firmly opposed to the imposition of theocracy on our pluralistic society."

Os Guiness, a leading crafter of the Manifesto, told U.S. News & World Report, "The issues of life and marriage are crucial, but the appeal to fear or hatred is not a Christian approach."

Some observers say the 19-page document indicates that a lot of evangelicals are desperately worried that their "brand" is in trouble. Young evangelicals could bail out of the movement if it is increasingly seen as dominated by the likes of Pat Robertson, Richard Land, James Dobson and Jerry Falwell. …