Centrist Organization Spotlight: National Association of Evangelicals
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.
When discussing the topic of Evangelical politics, it is impossible to leave off the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The NAE has been making waves in American politics for decades, dating all the way back to the 1940s. In fact, it was at the NAE’s annual convention that Ronald Reagan gave his famous “Evil Empire” speech. The NAE represents millions of Evangelicals, mostly through their network of member denominations, and attempts to both reflect and influence Evangelicalism in America. In recent years the NAE has become one of the clearest voices in articulating a balanced and holistically biblical political agenda. Documents such as For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility have greatly shaped the scope and depth of Evangelical political engagement.
Unfortunately for the NAE, their broad agenda has gotten them into quite a bit of trouble with their mostly conservative base. At times, their over-emphasis on issues relating to the environment has not sat well with members, and a lot of Evangelicals view the NAE as a left-of-center organization. But from the far right (where many Evangelicals sit) the center can seem to be further left than it really is. This issue simply highlights the difficulty the NAE faces in their obligation to reflect the opinions of Evangelicals, while also being a leader in how the Church engages politics.
Overall, the NAE has great potential to shape Evangelicalism in a positive manner. Their history and credibility is unmatched, and their broad vision should appeal to a wide base. Ultimately, if we are going to see all of Evangelicalism embrace a more balanced and biblical political agenda, it will take groups like the NAE to lead the way. If the NAE can avoid being pigeon-holed as either too liberal or too conservative, they will likely be the leader of centrist political engagement far into the future.