Saturday, September 15, 2007
Red Letter Christians
This month's Esquire Magazine features the Esquire 100, a "register of emerging ideas, trends, discoveries, products, people, and obscene gestures you should know about before everyone else does." One of the entries is Red Letter Christians. Nothing like mixing religion and politics as our friend John Ashcroft and the religious right have done for years, so here I go, again.
No. 91 - Red Letter Christians
The Reverend Jim Wallis suggests this experiment: "Go to a street corner and ask 'What do you think of evangelical Christians?' You'll get a lot of adjectives like angry, hateful, intolerant."
The D.C. based Wallis and his allies across the country say they want to reclaim a gentler Jesus for evangelical Christianity. In 2005, they formed a loose-knit group of evangelical pastors call the Red Letter Christians. (The phrase comes from the color of the words of Jesus in some old Bibles.) Instead of focusing their wrath on, for instance, gay marriage, their issues are poverty, the environment, peace and education.
Wallis and his colleagues, such as the Baptist minister Tony Campolo, say they aren't Republican or Democrat, but their politics are definitely more moveon.org that Fox News. Bono is an honorary member. And surveys show that up to 35 percent of evangelicals do not consider themselves part of the religious right. Wallis's network alone has almost 700 churches. They are likely to be a small but influential factor in the 2008 election.
Tony Campolo defines a Red Letter Christian as "Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, we want to unite Christians who are concerned about what is happening in America." Campolo goes on the say "We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; . . . and who are broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation."
Here's a challenge find some red letters, the words of Christ, that discuss gays. Looks like Congressman Cleaver is not alone in his desire to see discrimination against gays to end.