It’s safe to assert that religious groups and “evangelicals” have had an incredibly strong impact on the direction of nations. From political activism to voting patterns, most politicians closely study the ways of the evangelical like tea leaves. As a group voter block in the Bible belt and many Midwestern states, evangelicals become key players in election season – especially to the Republican candidates, the majority of which identify as so-called “evangelicals”.
An evangelical is some who builds their lives around their belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
However, what it truly means to be an evangelical gets incredibly twisted during campaign season because the meaning simply becomes a label rather than an identity. People loosely sling around the term evangelical and candidates soon fall to relentless pandering. Christians are Christians not because of a lifestyle or a deep, internal yearning to know God but rather because of their voting patterns. The sect of the populace who claims to believe in God – however loosely – are somehow by default pro-life, pro-gun, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-Muslim, etc. and vote according to that rhetoric. When it comes to politics, a faith group has been reduced to a voting block.
Here is why that is wrong:
Faith is more than politics
Although “evangelicals” have absolutely exerted significant leverage on every society they are found in (i.e. Martin Luther, John Locke, William Wilberforce, etc.), the politicization of American evangelicalism truly pulled itself into an activist group in the early 1980s with the founding of “The Moral Majority.” The group was meant to unite voters with similar judeo-Christian ideology in order to guide the moral direction of the United States through political institutions. It’s difficult to determine specifically when the label “evangelical” began deteriorating, but this election, it’s extremely clear that the word means nothing more than a lackadaisical demographic category for non-progressives who aren’t exactly atheists.
Faith is more than politics because being a true evangelical Christian demands more than just identifying yourself as one. It requires the complete transformation of your heart, mind, soul, and life. It consists of daily sacrificing your fleshly, worldly desires and dedicating everything you do to glorifying your Creator. Being an “evangelical” means being completely unable to not share with everyone you meet the sheer joy that comes from living a life that aligns with the Lord’s plan for you.
How do political strategists claim to quantify the life change that comes from an all-powerful Creator who painted the sky and filled the oceans? How can you limit the beauty and tragedy of a the sacrificial lamb of God to a voting block?
Short answer: you can’t.
Politicians who claim to be Christians shouldn’t have to pander
“God bless ____!”
You know you’ve heard candidates throw this line around in the areas dense with the “evangelical” vote (i.e. the South). One of the most important qualities of a person living in accordance to God’s will naturally is drawn to transparency and also has the ability to display it, so a politician who claims to be a believer putting on a show in an effort to push evangelical voters to support him/her is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
A politician claiming to be an “evangelical” has no reason to pander if they are truly being transparent. Pandering to Christians is the equivalent of Northern candidates suddenly having a Southern accent when in Alabama or of Donald Trump saying “Two Corinthians” at Liberty University.
The goals of Christianity cannot be reduced to a political subgroup.
True evangelicals should not have the goal of maintaining a particular earthly kingdom, but about calling people into the kingdom of God. This goal cannot be achieved by political activism alone or by electing the most Christian candidate to public office. Of course, it’s important to protect our religious rights, but the only way to change the country and push it back to God is to change hearts all across the nation.
Evangelical is not equivalent to pro-life, anti-gay, pro-gun, anti-Muslim, etc. because evangelicalism is overflowing with healing brokenness, redeeming the fallen, and uplifting the downtrodden. It is embracing your worth in Christ and recognizing your worthlessness without your Creator.
The future of evangelicalism is life-filled, gospel-centered, fierce, electrifying and unwilling to be anyone’s political stepping stone.