Richard Mouw is on the steering committee that drafted “An Evangelical Manifesto.” Yesterday, NPR interviewed him about the “Manifesto,” and the audio is available here. Or you can listen to it below. The interview begins at 27:20.[audio:http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/17/90266651/npr_90266651.mp3]
I am not yet ready to post all of my reflections on the document, though I can tell you now that my review will be mixed. One of the reasons for my skepticism is confirmed in this interview. As everyone knows, leading evangelicals like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Charles Colson, Albert Mohler, and others have not signed on to support the “Manifesto.” Mouw tells NPR that many of those who haven’t signed “have a vested interest in promoting and using their religious leadership to promote a certain kind of political agenda.” Is Mouw suggesting that the abstainers are abstaining because of some personal benefit that they derive from partisan politics? Does this suggest that the abstainers care more about their “vested interest” than about affirming the gospel?
Here’s a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview:
NPR : A number of prominent Christian leaders across the country are not among the list of those who signed. What do you want to say to those who want to remain political?
Mouw: Well, I think that we have seen in the last 30 years or so, you know, the evangelicals really became prominent around 1980 with the formation of the moral majority. And I think that many of them have a vested interest in promoting and using their religious leadership to promote a certain kind of political agenda . . . And uh, when there are those of us who want to say that we claim the label even though we don’t necessarily identify with that political agenda, that ideology, this obviously will create some tension.
NPR: There’s been some talk of a bit of a rift between older conservative Christians who focus on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and younger ones who might be a bit more concerned about things like the environment. Do you think this manifesto will help seal that rift at all?
Mouw: I think that’s, for many of us, that’s part of the motivation. There was a George Barna survey recently that reported that many younger Christians including many younger evangelicals see evangelicals as narrow-minded, bigoted, and mean-spirited people. And I think that many of us care about providing an alternative evangelical identity that will allow those of that younger generation to continue to be concerned about some of the central issues of the faith without having to, in doing so, without having to identify with the religious right.