Liberals Dream of a Resurgent Religious Left

By David R. Wheeler, Editor

The front page of today’s New York Times features an article by Laurie Goldstein titled “Liberals Fighting for Their Faith: Seeking to Break Right’s Grip on Nation’s Moral Agenda.”

As much as I enjoy watching my fellow journalists wrestle with the topic of religion, I was surprised that the Times considered this a Page One, above-the-fold story.

Yes, there are stories of frustrated millennials. Yes, there is data about a more diverse clergy. But before we do anything else, let’s stop and meditate on something for a second. According to the Pew Research Center, white evangelicals came out in higher numbers for Trump than they did for Romney, McCain, or George W. Bush. Trump received 81 percent of the white evangelical vote.

Remember how George W. Bush courted the evangelical vote? Remember that his favorite philosopher was Jesus Christ — the person who “changed [his] heart”?

Remember that?

Well, he received 78 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2004.

A much stronger article about the politics of religion in America appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. In that article, Ian Lovett analyzes the effect of Russell Moore’s denunciation of Trump.

Moore, the head of the SBC’s public-policy arm, caused a split within the denomination when he took a stand against Trump.

“2016 has destroyed evangelical credibility,” Moore wrote last October on Twitter. The tweet linked to an opinion piece calling evangelical leaders’ support for Trump “a scandal and a disgrace.”

Many individual churches protested Moore’s stance by halting payments to the national denomination. The SBC lost its access to the White House.

Moore was forced to apologize. “As I look back over the last year, I am grieved by the tensions in our denomination,” he said. “I…apologize for failing to distinguish” between people who voted for Mr. Trump despite reservations and “those who put politics over the gospel.”

The humbling of Russell Moore, I believe, is a much stronger indication of the role religion currently plays in America.


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