Starting Nov. 9, the media will be clogged with political pontifications. Here are a pair of major themes for those on the religion beat.
(1) What happened with white Catholics, the perennial religious swing voters? How about blue-collar white Catholics?
(2) What’s ahead for demoralized evangelical Protestants after a campaign that divided them and undermined their clout?
Journalists should also ponder whether evangelicalism’s major weakness extends well beyond politics. So said the Rev. Russell D. Moore in the annual First Things magazine Erasmus lectureship on Oct. 24. He’s the chief socio-political spokesman for the huge Southern Baptist Convention and a fierce moral critic of Donald Trump, especially on racial and ethnic issues. His speech critiqued the candidate -- without ever uttering his name.
However, Moore’s major theme was that many evangelicals’ Trumpism is merely a sign of weakness that at root is intellectual. He said to influence America’s “post-Christianity culture,” religious conservatives must develop stronger “public arguments” on moral questions and on “why and how Christianity matters.” That, in turn, will require much more “theologically rigorous” thinking. (The video of this important address is at the top of this post.)
Many observers over the years have said that for all its innovations and energy, U.S. evangelicalism is all too weak intellectually, thus limiting cultural influence.