SMELLS LIKE YOUTH MINISTRY SPIRIT.

In David D. Kirkpatrick's thoughtful piece in the most recent New York Times Magazine, he separates the threads of a tangled skein to give a glimpse of what's going on among the bewildered who populate the religious right. Younger evangelicals, he explains, care at least as much about the environment and the poor as they do about ending abortion and stopping gay marriage. Well, actually, they seem to be less concerned about the threat of liberated women and gay people than they are about the planet and its less fortunate denizens.

Kirkpatrick's piece offers some fascinating and incisive glimpses of the personalities involved in this apparent sea change. His interview of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a favorite of religious right rank-and-file but not of movement leaders, is particularly pointed. Huckabee implies it's his anti-poverty agenda that unnerves the movement's top men:

“Some of [the movement’s leaders] have spent too long in Washington. . . . I think they are going to have a hard time going out into the pews and saying tax policy is what Jesus is about, that he said, ‘Come unto me all you who are overtaxed and I will give you rest.’ ”

While the generational split among evangelicals has been a topic of discussion lately, the reasons why are only beginning to be explored. Kirkpatrick, citing John Green of the Pew Research Center cites the suburban upward mobility of evangelicals over the last two decades. Allow me to offer another: National Coming Out Day, an annual event sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for more than 10 years. With so many queer folk now out of the closet, most people now know someone close to them who is gay, lesbian, bi, trans, whatever. And that makes all the difference in the world.

--Adele M. Stan

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