Long before the age of Falwell and Robertson,
evangelical Protestants from William Jennings Bryan to
Billy Graham were anything but right-wing zealots.
Today, a new generation of evangelical leaders are
rediscovering their progressive roots.
By Harvey Cox | July 9, 2006
IN THE SPRING OF LAST YEAR, President Bush flew to
Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Because of its
conservative religious reputation, his advisers thought
it would be a safe and friendly place, but the visit
did not turn out as expected. He was greeted by a
petition, signed by a third of the faculty, and a large
student demonstration. Both denounced the invasion of
Iraq as not meeting the classical Christian criteria
for a just war.
Indeed, as the president has tried to shore up support
among religiously conservative voters in preparation
for this fall’s congressional elections, returning to
such issues as a constitutional amendment banning
same-sex marriage, he has found himself grappling with
a new challenge. Evangelical Protestants are becoming
increasingly concerned about a wide range of issues-the
Iraq War, the environment, torture, and poverty, for
example-which put them at odds with much of the Bush