Hey Brody File readers. Take a moment to read this article from Newsweek. A portion of it is below but you can read the whole piece here.
My guess is this story will resonate positively with some and be sad for others. I’m curious what you think. Get my analysis after the article excerpt.
V.Doug Paul was born in July 1981 in Richmond, Va.—demographics that make his birth, in a sense, historic. He was born, six months after Ronald Reagan's inauguration, to conservative Christian parents who knew for the first time the thrill of voting for a candidate who represented their values, Christian values. Graduates of Oral Roberts University, Gregg and Glenda Paul had thrown themselves into the Reagan campaign, canvassing and making calls. "I liked the direction he was going. I liked his ability to communicate," remembers Gregg. "I liked that he was very much pro-life, less government." When Reagan won, the Pauls felt they had contributed to his landslide.
In Doug's childhood home, a prayer was said over every meal. The family went to church so frequently that Doug imagined it was never closed. He didn't knowingly hear a secular pop song until he was in the ninth grade: he thought Michael Jackson was a Christian singer. His life and values were shaped by what his parents and pastors taught him about the Bible: Scripture was the divine word of God and clearly sorted righteous acts from sinful ones. Doug grew up not just believing, but knowing that abortion and homosexuality were wrong. It went without saying: when he grew up, he would vote Republican.
In 2008, another historic wave swept the country, and this time Doug Paul was no longer a child. He voted—against his parents, against his pastors, against his history—for Barack Obama. More wrenching, he left the church in which he was born, baptized and married to start his own congregation. His mother, especially, remains bewildered by his choices. "My big question," she says, sitting on a landing in her suburban house, "is why do you think this way?"
"It's hard," says Paul in a separate conversation, "because you want the people you love to understand and to validate what you think is right—and that doesn't always happen."
So much has been written about the Joshua Generation, the young white evangelical Christians who pundits predicted would usher Obama into office in overwhelming numbers. Following such high-profile do-gooders as Rick Warren and Bono, moved to action by global poverty and environmental decay, these Christians were supposed to turn away from their parents' obsession with abortion and gay marriage and pull the lever for Obama. The truth, as always, is a lot more complicated. Young Christians liked Obama much better than Kerry: a third of white evangelicals ages 18 to 29 voted Democratic this time, compared with 16 percent in 2004. Still, a third is hardly a majority. And their grandparents liked Obama less: a quarter voted for him, compared with a third for Kerry. On the whole, Christians shifted negligibly to the left: 24 percent of them voted Democratic, compared to 21 percent in 2004. Exit-poll data then demonstrate not a political sea change among evangelicals—who remain more socially conservative than most other religious groups, especially on abortion— but painful generational divisions within their ranks. Disagreements revolve around priorities: how best to express Christian values in a fast-changing world.
Folks, the plight, if you will, of young Evangelicals is already a storyline in presidential politics. But now with Obama becoming President, my sense is that the storyline will grow even larger.
Think about it. You have younger Evangelicals who are more willing to engage and talk about issues beyond abortion and gay marriage and you have a President who sees his faith firmly rooted in social justice issues. It’s a match that could mobilize a movement.
The question is how much should “traditional” Evangelicals be threatened by this? Does it really take the pro-life movement off course if the conversation switches and the focus is less on abortion or gay marriage for that matter? Some will say yes and you can’t blame them for that at all. They are passionate about those two very important issues and they should not be made to feel bad about it.