Centrist Organization Spotlight: Evangelicals for Social Action
One of our key beliefs at FaithfulPolitics.org is that a holistically biblical approach to politics will not fall only on the right or left of the political spectrum, but rather, somewhere in the center. For the next few weeks we will be promoting organizations that demonstrate a commitment to centrist politics.
Evangelicals for Social Action was founded after the signing of the “Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern,” in 1973. Ron Sider, author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and The Scandal of Evangelical Politics, has been ESA’s president since its inception. Sider has long been seen as one of the patriarchs of the Christian Left, so it may surprise some to see ESA highlighted as a centrist organization. This characterization of Sider, however, is far from accurate.
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger pricked the Evangelical conscience for not adequately addressing poverty, leading some to respond by labeling Sider a socialist or communist. In truth, Sider has been urging the Church to better address issues of social justice for decades now, which feels like socialism to some, but is actually simply a holistically biblical engagement with culture. While ESA comes at the political spectrum from a left of center orientation (Sider comes from the Anabaptist tradition), they do not fall lockstep in with the left on every issue. Sider is a strong opponent of abortion and supports a traditional understanding of marriage (Sider was one of the early signers of the Manhattan Declaration), while still being one of the most vocal leaders on issues of poverty and immigration reform.
If Evangelicalism is going to more fully embrace a centrist approach to politics we will need more leaders like Sider who are willing to break the political mold. As a community we must no allow ourselves to become the pawn of any party, Republican or Democrat, but instead embrace a holistically biblical approach to political engagement, just as Sider and ESA have demonstrated for years.