February 21, 2005


The New Evangelicals (EDITH BLUMHOFER, February 18, 2005, Wall Street Journal)

An ever higher number of U.S. evangelicals--perhaps nearing a third of the total--are Asian, African, Latin American or Pacific Islander. While Billy Graham would probably make their list of influential people, some of Time's others would not.

The ethnic evangelicals, having arrived since 1965, have brought a surge of fervor into American denominations. Between 1998 and 2004, ethnic congregations in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod increased to 204 from 48. Every Sunday, U.S. Christian and Missionary Alliance congregations worship in 28 languages. A 2004 article in Presbyterians Today noted how immigrants from Brazil to the Sudan were changing the ethnic mix of that denomination.

The faith of these newer Americans is--like that of U.S. evangelicals generally--rooted in the Bible and personalized by experience. It may even be more expressive and literalist than what the older forms of evangelicalism have become. But the ethnic evangelicals have little time for the much-publicized conservative interest groups that mobilize white middle-class church members.

Ethnic evangelicals and their offspring are more urban than suburban; they vote Democrat as well as Republican. New arrivals are as likely to care about immigration, human rights, poverty and religious freedom abroad as about same-sex marriage or Israel--though they do not speak with a unified voice. They often pour their money and energy into programs focused on their countries of origin.

These newcomers already wield influence in evangelical institutions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2005 6:31 AM
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