Katie Barge at Faith in Public Life has a great compilation of Falwell legacy coverage that demonstrates that the major media seems to be finally “getting it” that evangelicals really are far more diverse and broad in their political interests than previously assumed.
It was not so long ago that I regularly spent a portion of my morning sending reporters compilations of news articles demonstrating evangelical activism agenda around issues such as climate change, global AIDS, Darfur, and immigration, to make the case that evangelicals are not in fact monolithic. Alan Cooperman’s Washington Post story, “Evangelicals Broaden Their Moral Agenda” (October 16, 2006), signaled a shift, but it was a seen a break with conventional wisdom.
The coverage of evangelicalism following Rev. Jerry Falwell’s passing has convinced me that my morning routine is no longer necessary. The old conventional wisdom about evangelicals – that they care only about abortion and same-sex marriage – is out. And the new conventional wisdom – that evangelicals are not monolithic and care about a broad range of compassion issues – is in.
She then follows with links from the AP, The New York Times, NPR, Time, The Washington Post, and CNN all supporting this new conventional wisdom. And I’ll add one more from yesterday’s Washington Post:
[A] sometimes bitter debate is pitting evangelicals who want to keep their political activity tightly focused on a few issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, against those who want to embrace a broader agenda, including climate change and global poverty.
Of course, we’ve been proclaiming for a while now that the monologue of the Religious Right is over – but it’s gratifying to see that now even the mainstream media are reaching a consensus that this shift has taken place. Of course, evangelicals are still far from consensus on which moral values issues matter most, but the breadth and depth of the new conversation is encouraging. It’s nice when the conventional wisdom finally catches up with a prophetic word.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the Web Editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.