While many progressives think of evangelical voters as predictably Republican, Stanford professor of anthropology T. M. Luhrmann has an article at The New York Times offering some interesting advice to progressives who want to get a bite of the evangelical vote:
If Democrats want to reach more evangelical voters, they should use a political language that evangelicals can hear. They should talk about the kind of people we are aiming to be and about the transformational journey that any choice will take us on. They should talk about how we can grow in compassion and care. They could talk about the way their policy interventions will allow those who receive them to become better people and how those of us who support them will better ourselves as we reach out in love. They could describe health care reform as a response to suffering, not as a solution to an economic problem.
To be sure, they won’t connect to every evangelical. But the good news for secular liberals is that evangelicals are smarter and more varied than many liberals realize. I met doctors, scientists and professors at the churches where I studied. They cared about social justice. They cared about the poor. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many of them got into their cars and drove to New Orleans. This is a reachable population, and back in 2008, a quarter of white evangelicals voted for Mr. Obama. Democrats could speak to evangelicals more effectively if they talked about how we could develop our moral character together as we work to rebuild our country.
Dems should remember that not all self-described evangelicals are conservative on social issues. Indeed, a significant portion embrace something akin to ‘social gospel’ Christianity, in which compassion for the poor and suffering is an important value. These voters are approachable by progressives who can speak their language.