Wednesday at AEI, a discussion cosponsored by AEI's Values & Capitalism project and Hope College explored public policy engagement by the US evangelical community in recent decades, offering critique as well as recommendations for improved evangelical political engagement.
In a keynote address, Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center urged Christians to maintain an "Augustinian sensibility" in their civic engagement by more clearly realizing the world's fallen state but simultaneously "seeking the welfare of the earthly city" through "convicted civility" and prudence. Timothy Dalrymple of Patheos responded by calling for renewed evangelical engagement more characterized by independence, charity, and radical honesty.
Like the structure of the three-part book this event was based on, panels on domestic policy, global issues, and cultural engagement ensued. During the first, leading Christian college professors discussed our criminal justice system, free market economics, antipoverty policies, and immigration. During the second, foreign policy scholars commented on Christianity’s connections to contemporary human rights language, Middle East instability, and the application of "both truth and grace" in settings plagued by conflict and war.
Finally, the third panel challenged evangelicals to move beyond a "culture wars" mind-set and instead act, as Dalrymple explained, as "cultural conservationists, conversationalists, and entrepreneurs." As one place to start, Jeff Polet of Hope College urged Christians to counter dominant cultural trends in cohabitation, the hookup culture of many college campuses, and a steep downturn in US fertility rates -- as these dynamics shape the lives of many millennials now struggling to find work.
The emergence of evangelical Christians on the American political scene has been a critical development of the past several decades. Yet while religious voting patterns have been closely scrutinized, evangelical participation in current policy debates has not. How does a biblical response to poverty, or convictions about the dignity and responsibility of work, translate into public policy? In an age of international conflict, how do evangelicals approach global issues? When questions about federal spending, rising debt, and the best ways of encouraging free enterprise are sharply debated in the public square, what can Christian citizens bring to the table?
At this AEI Values & Capitalism event, cosponsored with Hope College, leading Christian college professors will highlight recent findings about how — in these consequential times — values inform evangelical participation in policy debates. Complimentary copies of “Is the Good Book Good Enough? Evangelical Perspectives on Public Policy” (Lexington Books, 2nd Edition, 2013) will be available for all conference attendees.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.