Evangelicals, contra their isolationist or xenophobic image, have become a well-traveled group, going to places usually reserved for anthropologists and peace corps volunteers. This new globalism constitutes a distinctly different movement from the Christian globalism of the past.
Evangelicals & evangelicalisms
For years Barack Obama has courted the support of evangelicals. Way back in 2006, Obama served as the keynote speaker at the Call to Renewal conference, a gathering of religious progressives sponsored by the evangelical Sojourners magazine. Citing the religious activism of Frederick Douglass, William Jennings Bryan, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Obama went out of his way to praise the social engagement of evangelicals like Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Jim Wallis, and Tony Campolo. At the time, Obama’s speech was hailed by evangelicals and others as a model of religious political engagement. But that wasn’t the reaction Focus on the Family’s James Dobson had this summer after hearing the speech for the first time. Though the Dobson/Obama debate is itself worthy of analysis, it is even more useful as a Rorschach test for contemporary evangelicalism.