By Alan Bean
This is good stuff! In a NYT op-ed, UNC history professor Molly Worthen draws attention to one of the primary forces driving the immigration debate in America–the counter-intuitive coalition between white and Latino evangelicals.
It is easy to regard this fragile network with skepticism. When over 70% of Latino voters pulled the lever for the blue team, savvy Republicans knew they had to edit their immigration talking points.
True, but it goes deeper than that.
Worthen argues that Latino evangelicals don’t share the libertarian, small government leanings of their white counterparts. Moreover, a large and influential cohort of educated young white evangelicals is embracing aspects of the old social gospel with its focus on social or systemic sin. This is not a cosmetic shift from the old evangelicalism, Worthen insists; it represents a fundamental shift in theological focus:
For a Christian, the question of whether an undocumented immigrant is a criminal or a victim trapped in an unjust system depends on how one thinks about sin and human responsibility . . . There are signs that evangelicals’ softening on immigration reform reflects a changing theology of sin and Christian obligation: a growing appreciation of how unjust social and legal institutions and the brutality of global capitalism trap the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses. This may be particularly true of younger evangelicals who are disillusioned with their parents’ Christian right. (more…)