New Voices, New Dialogue

March 23, 2006

Jim Wallis has a good column about how there is starting to be a greater diversity of issues discussed within the religious community. Here are a couple highlights:

For more than a decade, a series of environmental initiatives have been coming from an unexpected source - a new generation of young evangelical activists. Mostly under the public radar screen, they were covered in places such as Sojourners and Prism, the magazine of Evangelicals for Social Action.

... Recently, more establishment evangelical groups, especially the National Association of Evangelicals, also began to speak up on the issue of creation care. Leading the way was Rich Cizik, NAE Vice President for Governmental Affairs, who, on issues like environmental concern and global poverty reduction, began to sound like the biblical prophet Amos.

... The Evangelical Climate Initiative is of enormous importance and could be a tipping point in the climate change debate, according to one secular environmental leader I talked to. But of even wider importance, these events signal a sea change in evangelical Christian politics: The Religious Right is losing control. They have now lost control on the environmental issue - caring for God's creation is now a mainstream evangelical issue, especially for a new generation of evangelicals. But now so is sex trafficking, the genocide in Darfur, the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and, of course, global and domestic poverty.

... The Religious Right has been able to win when they have been able to maintain and control a monologue on the relationship between faith and politics. But when a dialogue begins about the extent of moral values issues and what biblically-faithful Christians should care about, the Religious Right begins to lose. The best news of all for the American church and society is this: The monologue of the Religious Right is over, and a new dialogue has just begun.
Amen! It is good to see some dialogue beginning to occur. Monologue—regardless whether it is from the right or the left—is not healthy for the community. Perhaps a deeper and more nuanced understanding of putting our faith into action will emerge.