Marcia Pally’s incisive essay on “the new evangelicals” highlights a relatively small but growing population of white evangelicals who appear to be embracing broader, less conservative visions of the common good, and public policy views (at least partially) more in line with Democratic politics than their recent forebears. While her descriptions presumably are not limited to those who necessarily call themselves “new evangelicals,” she does invoke the work and ideas of public evangelicals who clearly self-identify as such. This points to an interesting observation worth considering here: to assume the mantle of newness is to make an ideological statement as well as a historical claim.Read the rest of What has been will be again.
Omri Elisha is assistant professor of anthropology at Queens College of the City University of New York. His first book, Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches (University of California Press, 2011), is an ethnographic study of socially engaged evangelicals affiliated with conservative megachurches and faith-based organizations in East Tennessee. His research on evangelicalism has also appeared in scholarly journals such as Cultural Anthropology and Social Analysis, as well as popular blogs such as The Revealer, Religion Dispatches, and The Immanent Frame. He has been a Resident Scholar at the School for Advanced Research, and was awarded the 2009 Cultural Horizons Prize by the Society for Cultural Anthropology.
Posts by Omri Elisha:
I watched the last presidential debate in a crowded Manhattan restaurant with large-screen TVs and surround sound. By the end of the night, my drink tab was twice what it normally would have been, and it’s all because of Joe the Plumber. [...]Read the rest of Presidential drinking games, and other secular devotions.
It is impossible to overstate the significance of the local church pastor in the lives of conservative Protestants. Even in an age of Christian parachurch networks, media outlets, political action groups, and celebrity elites, the primacy of pastoral authority – and the larger congregationalist ethic on which it draws – remains a deep and impenetrable part of the evangelical subculture. But what does this authority mean in the present day and how does it pertain to the renewed prominence of religion in electoral politics?Read the rest of The makings of a pastoral presidency?.