An unexpected bloc of evangelical voters has emerged heading into the 2012 election season, Marcia Pally, an adjunct professor, concludes in her new book, The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good (Eerdmans, Nov. 2011).
These “new evangelicals” have moved away from religious conservatives and become focused on what historically were the traditional evangelical issues–poverty relief, care for the needy, including immigrants—as well as a newcomer, environmental protection.
However, despite separating from the religious right, the new evangelicals—estimated to comprise just over 10 percent of the U.S. population—have not found a home with the Democratic Party.
“These are ‘values voters’ who don’t easily identify with either major party,” explains Pally, who conducted six years of field research in writing the book. “Millions of evangelicals oppose abortion, so they can’t bring themselves to vote for Democrats, but their values on poverty relief, environmental protection, immigration reform, and racial and religious reconciliation are not those of the Republican Party.”
“So, heading into 2012, the question remains: Who’ll step up and be a candidate for these voters?” asks Pally, who teaches Multilingual Multicultural Studies in Steinhardt’s Department of Teaching and Learning, and is the author of several books on religion and politics, including Religion Behind the Scenes: The Contribution of Evangelicalism to Freedom of Conscience and U.S. Politics (Berlin University Press, 2008).
Pally’s years of field research included extensive visits to churches and religious social service organizations. She conducted interviews with evangelicals, aged 19 to 74, across the United States, ranging from pastors, professors, and political consultants to plumbers, bikers, students, firefighters, and office workers.