The authors affirm that they oppose abortion and same-sex marriage in order to demonstrate that they belong, to demonstrate that their voices are legitimate voices in their community, to demonstrate that they are “Evangelicals.” And what is the key, the touchstone, the Shibboleth for that demonstration? Two, and only two, political opinions. To be anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality may not be sufficient to demonstrate that one is an Evangelical, but it is necessary — far more necessary than any given theological or confessional belief.
The manifesto’s splendid language about reaching out to “the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, the socially despised, and being faithful stewards of creation and our fellow-creatures” belongs to a different category. Such opinions are acceptable, perhaps even admirable, but they are not Shibboleths that demonstrate one’s valid membership in the community.
Here, then, is the “Evangelical Manifesto.” It is an often persuasive and eloquent argument that political and cultural definitions of “Evangelical” are illegitimate. Yet even here — in the midst of that argument — the authors cannot avoid bowing to the demands of exactly those political and cultural definitions.