Hi Hanna, Jeff, Jerry, Michael, and David,
Welcome one and all. Each of you has already made significant contributions to the matter at hand—either by fostering it, covering it, or studying it—and I’m glad for the chance to bring your voices together. I’ll get things started, then step aside and let you all at it.
Let’s begin with a broad observation, and a question:
Evangelical Christians have not grown much in number in this country in recent decades, but they have certainly grown in prominence and influence. As Michael Lindsay’s new book “Faith in the Halls of Power” shows, evangelical leaders today are not only visible figures like James Dobson, Rick Warren, or even George W. Bush; they are also professors at leading colleges and universities, managers of Fortune 500 companies, well-networked figures in government offices, and creators of respected art and entertainment. Evangelicals are part of the American elite.
This news should not necessarily be unusual or surprising, though it may be to some, including evangelicals who have long felt themselves to exist in the cultural backwaters of the U.S. But it’s worth asking about the short- and long-term effects of these elite evangelicals on American life. Based on what you have observed and experienced, how do you feel about people with evangelical beliefs working at the highest professional, political, and cultural levels? Are powerful evangelicals good news or bad news for America?
I look forward to your responses.