Evangelical churches are splintering under the strain of politics, and a longtime conservative said the mingling of faith and partisanship has been a disaster.
More than 40 percent of evangelical pastors have said they've considered leaving their ministry, and The Bulwark's Peter Wehner said that political divisions within their congregations have worn them down and turning Christians against one another.
"I reached out to probably thirty or forty pastors and theologians, and what was interesting to me is I didn’t get a single dissenting voice in terms of the divisions and the acrimony that’s rising within evangelical churches, splitting them apart," Wehner said. "A lot of it is political, but some of it is just stuff that’s in the air. It’s just a tropism to our disagreement in temperance and antipathy."
Most evangelical Christians say with complete sincerity that their faith is the most important thing in their life, Wehner said, but he said partisanship has warped what that means.
"Increasingly core to a lot of people in the Christian faith, and particularly in the white evangelical world, is politics and culture," Wehner said, "and in a sense, faith is engrafted. It’s a secondary issue. A friend of mine uses the term 'hood ornament — that faith becomes a hood ornament: It validates these pre-existing attitudes and ideologies. But the way it’s being done is that people are unaware of it, because they’re going through and, in my experience and in my observations, is they’re proof-texting their preordained political, cultural, sociological beliefs, and then saying this is what the Bible says."
"When that happens, it can really become dangerous for politics and for faith, because you’re taking already intense issues and passions and divisions and you’re overlaying on that the sense that I have the imprimatur of God on this," he added, "and then you’re in a struggle of the children of light and the children of darkness, and we need politics to have the temperature turned down, not up. I’m afraid to say, and sad to say, that for a lot of American Christians, they’ve made not just their faith worse, but our politics worse, and it’s a terrible witness for the church and for the claims of being followers of Jesus."
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