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Are Evangelicals Actually Conservative?

The evangelical movement is more intellectually and ideologically diverse than the general public may think.

  • July 29th 2020

Karen Swallow Prior, professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks with David French, senior editor at The Dispatch.

What is evangelicalism today? Karen Swallow Prior, professor of Christianity and culture, says it’s complex. The evangelical movement is more intellectually and ideologically diverse than the general public may think — creating a confusion that has left the media to define it. Exit polls at election time do not necessarily reflect a movement-wide view, says Prior. The way evangelicalism and politics are intertwined is changing. Political commentator David French finds that young evangelicals are frustrated by a focus in the church on politics rather than gospel. In the future, French says, the evangelical movement may distance itself from any one political party as its members focus more deeply on issues like human values across race, citizenship, and social justice.

About the Speakers

Karen Swallow Prior, Ph. D., is Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, and On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books. She is co-editor of Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues and has contributed to numerous other books. Her writing has appeared in Christianity Today, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, First Things, Vox, Relevant, Think Christian, The Gospel Coalition, Religion News Service, Books and Culture and more. She is a founding member of The Pelican Project, a Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum, a Senior Fellow at the International Alliance for Christian Education, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She and her husband live on a 100-year old homestead in central Virginia with sundry horses, dogs, and chickens. And lots of books.

David French is a senior editor at The Dispatch, a columnist for Time, and the co-host of the Advisory Opinions podcast. David is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former constitutional litigator, an author, and a veteran. In 2007, he deployed to Iraq with the Third Armored Cavalry regiment, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. His next book, Divided We Fall: America's Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, will be released on September 22, 2020.

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