One of the most astute observers of contemporary evangelical politics is Marcia Pally, a professor at New York University and author of The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.
This requires political independence, an idea with increasing emphasis since 2005, when Christianity Today lambasted the conflation of Biblical values and American or Republican ones. In 2006, Frank Page, then president of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, said, “I have cautioned our denomination to be very careful not to be seen as in lock step with any political party.”The Evangelical Environmental Network, Evangelicals for Human Rights, Red Letter Christians and The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good have all had aims that conflict with Republican policies. In 2007, the National Association of Evangelicals, against the Bush administration, issued its “Evangelical Declaration against Torture.”In 2010-2011, it repeatedly protested against Republican budget cuts for the needy.
If this looks like a shift worth noting, it gets bigger when one looks at evangelical youth – the political future. The significance of the under-40 Democratic vote in 2008 grows when one considers that coming-of-age politics guides political preferences throughout life. And as Jonathan Merritt, a young Southern Baptist pastor, said in 2008 of the Republican appeal to younger evangelicals, “The McCain campaign is really out to lunch.”
Today, fully 65 percent of evangelicals ages 18-30 favor bigger government and more governmental social-service provision, such as Obama’s Affordable Care Act and government aid to the poor – not exactly Republican positions. They are, as Associated Press religion writer Eric Gorski found, “even more anti-abortion than their elders” on ethical grounds, “but also keenly interested in the environment and poverty.”