Dec 19, 2014

When the left misunderstands evangelicals

Kim Bobo, founder of Interfaith Workers Justice, says workers' rights activists and other leftist groups have failed to connect to evangelicals because they misunderstand evangelicals:
One of the things that has not been smart has been to lump evangelicals and fundamentalists in with the conservative Christian Right. While a lot of people have been confused on things and connect with the Christian Right on stuff, to lump this huge group of people or write them off as not part of our [workers' rights] movement is dumb.

You see that right now on immigration reform. The evangelical world is completely solid on immigration reform. And at the local level, we see a lot of fundamentalists and evangelicals involved in the work.

We need to understand there are some very well-funded, concerted efforts by right-wing forces to continue to capture [evangelicals]. The Heritage Foundation published a small study guide entitled 'Seek Social Justice.' It argues that the best way to help poor people is to do it through your church, because we are closer to people, and thus the best way to get there is to cut taxes of rich people and give more money to the church. It also makes these wild statements like, 'If people aren't happy with their jobs, they can just go find another one.' Really? It is not a very sophisticated argument.

We should not assume [evangelical Christians] are a static group of people that is owned by the Right Wing. This is a set of folks that have a set of values of their faith that are being contested. I think that we need to be in there contesting for them. It's hard because the Right Wing understands the importance of the faith community in these issues. They put a lot of money into funding right-wing religious organizations; the progressive world doesn't.
It's not exactly what Bobo is talking about, but it's worth noting that even while the Religious Right has maintained its electoral strength -- about a quarter of voters were white evangelicals last election and nearly 80 percent voted Republican -- the minority of evangelicals on the political left has persisted too.