Christianity,  Politics

Evangelicals Less Relevant Than Ever Before?

Andy Crouch is an editor at Christianity Today. Recently he commented on the fact that more and more evangelicals are leaving behind abortion and marriage as transcendent moral values in their choice for President next November. He writes:

“This could turn out to be the election where both parties realize that the evangelical vote is so hopelessly split down the middle that it’s not worth courting them at all because what parties need are blocs that can be appealed to en masse. Paradoxically, evangelicals would become less relevant than ever before.”

Well, Crouch certainly right about that. For more on evangelicals who no longer prioritize defending the unborn, read here:

“Young, evangelical … for Obama?” – by Haley Edwards (The Seattle Times)


  • Paul

    “For more on evangelicals who no longer prioritize defending the unborn…”

    Enough, Denny. Seriously. Your rhetoric on this subject is old, tired, stale and frankly, relatively uninformed.

    Go ahead, stack the supreme court with justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade. All that does is give the choice back to the states. Best case that you’re looking at is that about half the states outlaw abortion, and none of those states would be all that far away from states that would have still have legal abortions. Getting one would be a road trip away. What are you going to do, set up road blocks with urine tests for women at the borders?

    Seriously, Denny, I get tired of you (and Darius and Mark…) telling me how I think or what my priorities are. You don’t know squat about the Christian left or our priorities because you so rarely engage us in conversation, and when people do, it’s mostly to tell us that voting democratic is a sin (hi Darius), or that liberal thought is evil and unbiblical (hi again, Darius). Did you even know that Jim Wallis is a guy who puts orthodoxy well before his politics? Probably not.

    Saying that other issues are important besides abortion does not mean that abortion isn’t important. Not by any means. But being that if you get your wish of an overturn of Roe v. Wade, that you’ll still have half of the states representing 3/4 of the population still able to get an abortion. Then what Denny? How much good will your “the right president can change everything” blathering do then? Trust me when I tell you that at that point, you’ll wish you had put a president in power that realizes that there are root causes to unwanted pregnancies and that you’d better address them if you want to get the abortion rates lowered.

    All of this talk about how liberal Christians are somehow bad, and yet the conservative guy still has nothing to say about tragedies in Myanmar or Central China (where there are a whole lot of Christian missionaries, btw…oh wait, they’re pacifist mennonites…never mind).

  • Mark

    Hi…long time reader, first time writer.
    Thanks for helping us to never forget the issues. Your blog is always professional, informative, and intelligently Christian. Keep up the good work, Dr. Burk!

  • Matt Svoboda


    You are just as biased as Denny. As if all the missionaries helping out Myanmar and China are pacifist mennonites… You act like it is a waste of time to try and put good judges on the bench to AT LEAST give it back to the states. I think it would be a huge step forward because about 50% of the states are pro-life!(yes, the conservative ones.)

    I would never say that you are living in sin or anything ridiculous because you are a liberal. Although I do admit that a lot of the things you say on this site I do think are unbiblical.

    You can’t say that you do defend the unborn and then vote for Obama who is the most pro-choice person to ever run for president. You say that you are not a one issue voter… good for you. In saying that you are indeed supporting a man that is happy killing the unborn. Congratulations, you are not a one issue voter… instead you vote for the killing of the innocent. You really display the biblical picture of Jesus. Obviously I am kidding. Do you not see how that is unbiblical?

    I truly do not understand where you, my good friend Brett, and other ‘liberal christians’ are coming from. I will admit that. Paul, there is no way I can see that what you believe, as what I’ve read on this site, is biblical. Hate the religious right, I don’t care. But that does not mean supporting Obama is the answer! McCain isn’t the religious right, why not vote for him? Could it be that you take just as much pride in being a liberal democrat as the conservatives take pride in being of the religious right? I believe it is so… You are pushing a liberal agenda just as much as Denny is pushing his agenda.

    Don’t attack Denny or any other believer, it is unbiblical. I am sure Denny has prayed for the people of China and Myanmar, if not more, than you and all of your other ‘liberal Christians.’ It is dumb to say he has nothing to say about. Because he didn’t put it on his blog you come to the conclusion he has nothing to say? That is a bad argument. All he could do is give the facts and say pray and send support, but if you turn on your tv you see it on every station…

    Sorry for the rant. If I was harsh, I apologize.

    In Love,

  • Paul


    1) I wouldn’t, for a second, claim that I’m not as biased as Denny. Please also tell me that the sky is blue, the White Sox will not make the playoffs and that sugar is sweet.

    2) I never said that ALL of the missionaries in China are pacifist mennonites. But there has to be some reason why Denny can skip like a broken record (Christian Liberals are bad, Christian Liberals are bad, Christian Liberals are bad, Christian Liberals are bad), but he can’t speak out about humanitarian crises throughout the world. He can make sure to put up a post saying support the Center for Keeping Women Barefoot and Pregnant, but he can’t bring himself to say, hey, do your Christian duty and send some money and pray your prayers. And when he had a chance to confront me straight on, instead he turns tail and just says thank you to someone who says something nice to him. But frankly, this gets old, Denny posts post after post about how the Christian left is wrong, and then says little about it when he’s called out.

    3) I’m not saying that giving abortion back to the states would be a bad idea. However, so many right wing evangelicals treat elections as if voting for a Republican will make the birds chirp, the bees sing and get ABBA back together to sing Dancing Queen on American Idol. It ain’t the case. Insofar as 50% of the states being pro-life, that’s a best case scenario. South Dakota is supposedly a pro-life state. But shockingly, after Republicans got the referendum on the ballot, the RNC distanced themselves from it, and the referendum got beat hard. In states where it goes up to referendum, an abortion ban will likely not pass, and in states where it’s left up to the legislature, I can guarantee you a blue sweep in the next election that no one here wants to see.

    4) I might say things that are unbiblical, but I would say that everyone on here, including Denny himself does likewise. specks and logs, my friend.

    5) “You can’t say that you do defend the unborn and then vote for Obama who is the most pro-choice person to ever run for president.” Bull. I can vote for people that will work hard to ensure that unwanted pregnancies don’t happen in the first place. I can vote for people who will fund programs that help single mothers, so that keeping a child isn’t nearly as much of a burden. I can fund local crisis pregnancy centers, and I can lend a helping hand volunteering whenever and wherever possible. Here’s my question to you and all of the other “I believe in smaller government unless George Bush tells me that more government is good government” types: what are you going to do to help stop the enormous increase in illegal abortions that will occur in Arkansas or Oklahoma the day after an abortion ban goes into effect? Who are you going to vote for then?

    5) John McCain, Mr. I love me some John Hagee and Rod Parsely, Mr. I spoke at Liberty University, Mr. my voting record is like a Republican guidebook to ruining the country is not the religious right? Stay off the kool-aid boy.

    6) You say upthread that you would not call me evil or anything ridiculous for being a liberal. However, further down in the post, you do exactly that. Make up your mind, sir.

    I too, do not mean to be harsh. However, day after day after day of reading “Christian Liberals are bad, Christian Conservatives are good” is like reading Animal Farm without the humor. If Christians aren’t supposed to criticize other Christians, then Denny’s got a lot of public repenting to do.

  • Darius

    Matt, I appreciate those who can say the truth more eloquently and lovingly than I. Good comment. 🙂

    Hi Paul. I just thought I would say hi back since you said “hi” to me so many times. 😉

    I actually never said anything about it being sin to vote for a Democrat. I have actually voted for a Democrat (on a local congressional race) before. He had as much of a pro-life platform (or lack thereof) as the Republican candidate, and I didn’t want to encourage anti-life ideals in the Republican party, so I voted for the incumbent Dem. I just said it is a sin to vote for a vehemently pro-abortion candidate like Obama. I will stipulate that some candidates are pro-choice (though what does semantics matter, since if someone allowed another person to be murdered because they were “pro-choice” on murder, we would consider them a coward at best, and an accomplice at worst). However, Obama is NOT pro-choice. If he truly were pro-life yet for leaving the choice to parents and doctors, he would support bills that abortion lobbyists even support. But one only has to read his rhetoric to know that he views babies as a curse and that they don’t deserve life unless their parents want them. It’s no small step from his belief system to the one that Peter Singer espouses (infanticide up to a few months or years old).

  • Matt Svoboda


    You make some good points.

    But, Point 5 is terribly wrong though. If McCain was as conservative as you imply than he wouldn’t be working his butt of to win over the conservative evangelicals. One of his best friends is a liberal from New York! You are definitely mistaken about McCain.


  • Darius

    “If Christians aren’t supposed to criticize other Christians, then Denny’s got a lot of public repenting to do.”

    Paul, pray tell where you find that in the Bible. I’m beginning to think you read a different one than the rest of us, because I can give you a few verses that tell us to do EXACTLY what Denny does on a regular basis: preach against false teaching and evil deeds.

  • Darius

    “Center for Keeping Women Barefoot and Pregnant”

    Paul, are you referring to crisis pregnancy centers? If so, this reveals two things about you. One, you don’t have a clue what happens in them. Two, your other comment about funding them is hogwash, cause if you truly view them with such disdain, you would never give them money.

  • Ted

    Paul (comment #1)

    I would gladly welcome the Supreme Court’s opportunity to let my state, Kansas, decide whether or not to outlaw abortion. Then maybe we could put out of business Dr. George Tiller, who specializes in killing babies in the 3rd trimester. Or at the least, make him pack up and move to another state.

  • JB

    I am officially volunteering to referee a UFC style fight between all of you girls. We could call it Upward Cagefighting.

  • Darius

    Matt, don’t surrender the debate. Paul made almost no good points. He indeed implied that ALL Christian missionaries in China are pacifistic Mennonites and that Denny doesn’t care about them or Myanmar. It was a dispicable thing to say, stemming from his bitter and spiteful liberal worldview.

    Paul, your repeated “solve the root causes of abortion first” rhetoric is probably the most uninformed blathering on these Manifesto threads. I guess if you repeat it long enough, you think it eventually becomes true, negating all evidence to the contrary. The root causes for abortion are these (in no particular order): the legalization of abortion (laws do make a difference in the views of a society), the cultural view that babies are a curse, the cultural idea that sex should be enjoyed with no responsibilities, the cultural belief that babies (and mentally and physically handicapped people) have less worth than a “normal” educated human adult, the worldview that humans are of no greater worth than a mosquito and that this life is all there is, and general moral poverty. As someone else said, economic poverty is not a root cause of abortion, but merely a symptom of cultural and societal impoverishment. Again, I would encourage you to read Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Defines the Underclass by Theodore Dalrymple if you want both an amazing read and a much more eloquent description of what moral poverty looks like in society and its connection to economic poverty.

  • Trent G.

    While were at it. Denny, I too have a list of topics you must address on YOUR OWN PERSONAL BLOG in order to pass my litmus test. Please include at least two posts on missionary work in South America, one on the renewal of the biblical gospel in European acedamia, and three posts on the Christian church under Putin’s presidency (puppet or otherwise) in the former Soviet Union. These will prove to me that you are indeed worthy of listening to.

    Also, I demand that you personally address everything Paul has to say. If you could do this in a separate post it would be ideal, as his arguments deserve the respect of a separate post all together. But if you wish to prove yourself “less than manly” you can merely address him in the comments section. Either way, he has proven himself time and again to be extremely teachable and he speaks with such humility (I mean look at the very precise language he uses to insult you) that you must make time out of your day to respond to his “extremely insightful” comments personally. Thanks.

  • Mark Gibson


    Don’t expect straight answers from Paul. It is like reading liberal bumper stickers. If you do call him out on one of them (like I did on NAFTA and free trade), then he just changes the subject or accuses you of un-Christian behavior. His first post on this thread is a perfect example.

  • Hector

    Denny, I think young Christians shouldn’t vote for Obama because on the whole his ideas are inconsistent with limited governement which I happen to think is the wisest form of government for the sake of the church and the gospel.

    But, I think you are setting up a false dichtomy. Evangelicals can prioritize defending the unborn, feeding the hungry, caring for the environment, and a host of other virtuous activities.

    If young people literally do not think murdering the unborn is a sin then they are wrong. But it could also be (and I suspect is the case) that they want other issue to get some evangelical airtime as well, and so are directing us to *other* transcendent moral values.

    Rather than making a case for the priority of one virtue over another, we should be teaching and admonishing christians (as I am sure you do) to promote virtue in every social and cultural arena.

  • Benjamin A

    Though Paul and I don’t agree on many topics I’ve never had a problem discussing issues with him in a civil manner.

    If all the personal sarcasm is put aside, and a civil tone employed, issue centered dialogue might be possible.

    You may have good things to add to the conversation, but dragging a brother through the muck, makes your points less enlightening.

    Notice how Denny absorbs so many personal shots. Go ye therefore and do likewise. It builds credibility!!!

  • Denny Burk


    In my post I specified “certain venues,” and then focused on the venue of the upcoming election. We have to make priorities when it comes to electoral politics. No candidate will embody all of our ideals. So we have to pick the candidates that get the main things (i.e. the most important things) right.

    Of course evangelicals have to be engaged in addressing a broad range of issues both in their ministries, their activism, and their dialog in the public square. I have not disputed the fact that there other other important issues (e.g., poverty, the environment, etc.). I’m simply making the observation that in some venues (e.g., the ballot box) there will be times when we have to make a choice for the transcendent value. I’m not sure the Manifesto makes room for this.


  • Darius

    Benjamin, Denny is civil and yet Paul still rips on him every chance he gets. Exactly how are we “dragging him through the muck” as opposed to correct him where he is wrong?

  • Darius

    Benjamin, I would refer you to the FIRST comment in this thread, made by Paul. Do you honestly think that was a civil way to begin a comment thread after Denny’s completely civil post?

  • Benjamin A


    True. That was not civil. However, those who are more aligned with Denny’s perspective could do that perspective more good by being civil as Denny is civil.

    Proverbs 26:2 “Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, So a curse without cause does not alight.”

    Examples of muck are-

    “Paul made almost no good points…

    “It was a despicable thing to say, stemming from his bitter and spiteful liberal worldview.”

    “Paul, your repeated “solve the root causes of abortion first” rhetoric is probably the most uninformed blathering…

    “Also, I demand that you personally address everything Paul has to say. If you could do this in a separate post it would be ideal, as his arguments deserve the respect of a separate post all together…

    “Don’t expect straight answers from Paul. It is like reading liberal bumper stickers…

  • Darius

    Ben, you’re getting at “eye for an eye” stuff. I agree. I find it quite difficult to reign in my responses to vitriol and untruth. Feel free to continue to call me on it. My bad.

  • Darius

    I actually finally read the article to which Denny linked in this post… that’s heart-breaking to see so many young people my age or younger who don’t understand how to apply Christianity to politics and haven’t studied enough history (thank you educational system that focuses more on condoms and bananas than actual learning) to know the evils of socialism. Worldviews, like fashion trends, always come back into style. No matter how many times it is proven wrong, socialism will rear its ugly head. And each time, they put new makeup on the pig. Oh well, give them a couple decades to see the foolishness of it all. Until then, they enable the deaths of millions of more babies.

  • Darius

    Spam caught on of my comments…

    Denny, would you say that a good way to combat this is for the church to start better addressing political worldviews and the philosophies behind them and how they relate to God’s truths? I think the church has largely failed in this regard. We talk about some worldview stuff, like postmodernism, Darwinism, etc. but rarely about political socialism, communism, liberalism, conservatism, fascism, and more. The church teaches people how to serve and help others, and one huge way to serve others is to help provide them a government that doesn’t oppress them or promote vices in them.

  • jeff miller

    evangelicals less relevant? Yes, as a politicized voting block in the old kingdom. But the more important question is, Are you and I becoming more relevant as a voice for disciple-making in the kingdom of God.

  • jeremy z

    paul welcome. okay. take a few breathes, relax, and see through the issue.

    it is essential you vent your frustrations. welcome to the denny burk show.

    greg i seriously laughed out loud for 2 minutes regarding your comment.

  • Dan P


    I have been a reader since your response to Greg Boyd on Piper and the bridge in Minn. Though there are a lot of things that I disagree with you on, I am grateful that your articles at least make me think about my own beliefs.

    In response to this post, I have trouble accepting that “abortion and marriage as transcendent moral values.” I don’t see how that can be supported in the Bible over things like “poverty, [or] the environment.” Jesus states that the most important things are Love God and Love others. I don’t understand how we then raise marriage and abortion to a pedestal while other things like war and poverty are beneath them. One of the common themes of Jesus’ was take care of the poor. Thanks for the discussion.

  • Darius

    Dan, I guess I have two questions for you. One, where do you get the idea that “saving the environment” is promoted in Scriptures? I completely agree that poverty is a huge issue in the Bible, but environmentalism? How is this not merely an example of the culture corrupting the church?

    Two, what does fighting poverty at the federal and state (government) level look like to you? Is capitalism a Biblical ideal, or something closer to socialism? I would say that to truly love the poor would be to enable them to become unpoor. Socialism and welfare does the opposite, holding people in poverty for generations by promoting a lack of responsibility and work ethic. It also promotes a lack of charitability in the wealthy, by forcibly stealing their money and redistributing it to the poor. Meanwhile, capitalism BY ITS VERY NATURE promotes a sense that each man is responsible for himself alone and if he is willing to work, he can rise in life. Socialism says that people are cogs in the machine of class warfare that keeps them down, whereas capitalism accepts the truth that man is usually what he makes of himself.

    I understand the appeal of socialism, because it allows people to think they are actually DOING something to help others, while the gears of capitalism pretty much operates unmanned, so to speak. Unfortunately, socialism has been proven fatally flawed on numerous occasions in the last 100 years.

  • Paul

    interesting. Lots of attacks. Nice work guys. And thanks to Benjamin A for being a voice of reason.

    I am way too busy right now to get into a projected back and forth, so I will answer once and probably not be back to be the overly emotional, bitter, etc, etc, etc liberal.

    1) Darius in #6: as you will see throughout my comments directed at you, we agree more than you think. I agree that there ARE pro-choice candidates and there are pro-abortion candidates. And trust me, after hearing the comment about how he wouldn’t want his daughters burdened with an unwanted pregnancy, it started making me uncomfortable to vote for him. Honestly, at this point, it’s probably more likely that I’ll vote Green Party or Socialist Party before I vote for Obama. Either way, between the xenophobia and racism that is rampant in America, there’s no way that Obama wins anyway, so enjoy four years of McCain ruining the country even more.

    2) Matt in #7: don’t look at McCain’s rhetoric or how his campaign advisors spin him, look at his voting record. Save for a small number of votes (stem cells, McCain/Feingold and a handful of others), his voting record is about as conservative as it gets.

    3) Darius in #8: please read everything before commenting on something. The quote you snipped was directly aimed at Matt in #4: “Don’t attack Denny or any other believer, it is unbiblical.”

    If it’s unbiblical, then a whole bunch of folks on the right side of the aisle have a whole bunch of repenting to do. However, I know that Paul told us to rebuke those who state a different gospel than what was given to us in the four accounts of the gospel.

    4) Darius in #9: I was referring to the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, NOT Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Sheesh.

    5) Ted in #10: I agree. However, I think that once the votes and referendums play out, if they’re given a chance to (and I highly doubt that they really will), I tend to think that the only states that will ban abortion will be a handful of states in the deep south and Utah. I would like to be wrong in that regard, but given the nationwide polling numbers regarding voters takes on the pro-choice/pro-life divide, it’s usually 60-65% pro-choice, 30-35% pro-life. Numbers skewed like that are going to make any politician think twice about actually going forward with a bill.

    6) Darius in #12: Darius, I think you make a common mistake that is all too easy to make in very conservative parts of the country. Let’s look at what you call the root causes of abortion…

    “the legalization of abortion (laws do make a difference in the views of a society)”

    agreed, but now we have to deal with the fact that pandora’s box has been opened. Overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t close the box, it only keeps it open less widely. Now we have to look at this from a completely different angle than we would have prior to 1973.

    “the cultural view that babies are a curse”

    Agreed. This is a problem. But unless there’s a crisis pregnancy center on every corner, and an adoptive couple ready for every unwanted child, that view will continue unabated. That doesn’t make it right, but it is the truth.

    “the cultural idea that sex should be enjoyed with no responsibilities”

    This isn’t exactly a new idea. David did it, one of David’s sons did it to his half sister, and need I remind you about ancient Greece or Rome? Christians don’t need to capitulate to this view, but they certainly need to understand that it’s the view of most in the secular world and a much bigger portion of the Christian world than any of us wants to admit.

    The problem is, Darius, with yours and others’ comments on this subject is that you think you can reach non-Christians with a Christian world view. At this point, especially in America, where the Christian point of view can be found anywhere and everywhere, the people that aren’t being reached aren’t going to be reached. And those are the people having the unattached sex, and those are the people that need to hear about birth control, abstinence for secular reasons and generally how to not get pregnant in the first place.

    “the cultural belief that babies (and mentally and physically handicapped people) have less worth than a “normal” educated human adult.”

    We agree completely here.

    “the worldview that humans are of no greater worth than a mosquito and that this life is all there is, and general moral poverty.”

    The problem here is that this is an all or nothing scenario. Either all life is worthy, at which point, you chuck the death penalty and only go to war when attacked (or get war declared upon you as was the case w/Germany in WWII), or no life is worthy, at which point, you might as well go to Iraq and incite a civil war. We as Christians CANNOT have it both ways.

    7) Mark Gibson in #15: I might very well be a sounding board for liberal bumper stickers, but at that point, you are nothing less than my counterpart on the right, sir.

    re: NAFTA response…I will get to it when I have time. I work a day job, I work a night job, I have a wife, a kid and a dog and my grandfather just passed. Telling you why NAFTA is a bad idea just is not on the top of my list of responsibilities at the moment.

    8) Darius in 20 & 21: I’m sorry, but this line from Denny…”…For more on evangelicals who no longer prioritize defending the unborn…” is (a) jive, (b) in poor taste, and (c) just as uncivil as anything I’ve written. Sorry, that’s the way I see it. Saying that there are lots of fish to fry is NOT a bad thing.

    9) Darius in 24 & 25: I tire of your pointless shots on liberalism. Does it fail? Sometimes. So does capitalism. And when capitalism fails, it hurts a lot more people than when liberalism fails.

    We can agree that actual communism is as much of a pipe dream as libertarianism, and that applied communism is a dismal failure. But countries like Germany, Japan and to a lesser extent, Canada, seem like they’re doing alright. And strangely, I’ve never heard a Canadian complain about their healthcare system.

    I think that covers everything. Feel free to flame away, as I won’t be around to defend myself.

  • Paul

    uhhh, I just got spammed. And with one of the most reasonable and evenhanded responses I’ve ever given to Darius in the brief history of our discussions.

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