January 31, 2012
Tony Campolo: If Evangelicals Vote Gingrich, Count Me Out
"The need for Red Letter Christians to no longer be labeled 'Evangelicals' became abundantly clear" with S.C. vote, he said.
Tony Campolo has long been one of America's most high-profile evangelical Democrats. From his 1976 campaign for Congress, to his service as spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton amid the Lewinsky scandal, to his work on the 2008 Democratic Party platform committee, his party affiliation has never been in doubt. And while others have questioned his evangelical bona fides (he experienced a heresy trial in the mid-'80s), he has always emphasized his identity as both an evangelist and as an evangelical, even as the two words have experienced their share of baggage. Even the name of his organization remains the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.
But EAPE isn't Campolo's only organization. In a post this week, Campolo says his more political group, Red Letter Christians, should stop using the e-word.
"The need for Red Letter Christians to no longer be labeled 'Evangelicals' became abundantly clear this past Saturday following the South Carolina Republican Primary," Campolo wrote, citing exit poll data that evangelicals in the state overwhelmingly voted for Newt Gingrich. "I, for one, am quite willing to join the 'forgive, forget and move on' crowd, but it does make me wonder if Evangelicals are going to sound believable when they say that they tend to vote Republican because of their religious commitments to the family."
Campolo says membership in Red Letter Christians requires traditional evangelical commitments like the authority of Scripture, the doctrines of the Apostle’s Creed, "a personal transforming relationship with the resurrected Christ." But, he says, "we want to be more non-partisan politically than appears to be the case for so many of our South Carolinian Evangelical brothers and sisters."