How many of us let headlines create lines in our foreheads? With TV and internet reports around the clock, it's easy to become manic-depressive news junkies-and that's why I'm often called to be a contrarian. Are you feeling good about "revolution" in Egypt? See "Leadership in a vacuum" in this issue. Are you feeling bad about domestic trends? Read on for good news concerning young Christians and pro-lifers.
First, let's take on pundits and pollsters who purportedly provide answers to the age-old question, What's the matter with kids today? You've probably heard a typical moan: They're leaving the church, so gotta become relevant, gotta take up liberal positions-or else the kids are gone. You may even have seen shows answering YES to the question of "Are Young Evangelicals Skewing More Liberal?" (ABC) and "Are Young Evangelicals Leaning Left?" (PBS).
Hmm. Baylor University researchers Byron Johnson and Buster Smith, after crunching polling data about evangelical political identifications and attitudes, have concluded that (1) younger evangelicals hold views similar to older evangelicals on most issues, and (2) young evangelicals remain significantly more conservative than non-evangelicals on those issues.
Johnson and Smith found that age, among non-evangelicals, is an important predictor of political stance: 50 percent of the young are liberal but only 33 percent of those older. Among evangelicals, though, 70 percent of the young are conservative, 74 percent of the older: No big deal. Maybe non-evangelicals have to learn from hard experience that liberalism doesn't work, and evangelicals know that from the Bible. (Only about one of 10 evangelicals, young or old, calls himself "liberal.")
The conservatism of young evangelicals is apparent issue by issue. Some 72 percent say the use of marijuana is always or almost always wrong, compared to 73 percent of older evangelicals. You may have heard that young evangelicals accept homosexual marriage, but the survey says otherwise: The old (83 percent) oppose it, but the young (85 percent) oppose it even more. Only on issues like "global warming" is there a young/old divide among evangelicals, with the young much more concerned.
And here's the particularly good news: Younger evangelicals are more pro-life than older ones. To take the hardest case, 61 percent of the younger say abortion is wrong even if pregnancy is the result of rape, compared to 50 percent of their elders. Only one in 10 evangelicals, whether young or old, says abortion is right if a family can't afford another child.
Despite Washington temperatures in the 20s on Jan. 24, tens of thousands of younger evangelicals put their legs where their hearts are by joining the annual March for Life. Even the usually snarky Washington Post admitted that "more young people appeared to be participating than in previous years." A decade ago many pro-life leaders worried about the graying of the movement: Those concerns are now gone.
On Feb. 1, 22-year-old Lila Rose threw Planned Parenthood into a tizzy by showing with an undercover video how a New Jersey branch of America's largest abortion provider was happy to help a supposed pimp grow his sex-trafficking business with 14- and 15-year-old victims. Take a look at her sensational work on YouTube.
The abortion lobby, of course, is fighting back with attempts to discredit Rose and pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. Attacks on crisis pregnancy centers by abortion's media allies are nothing new: My wife and I confronted one in Austin 25 years ago, and we've seen the same smear attempts every five years or so elsewhere. We played Austin American-Statesman editors a tape that showed how their hatchet-woman twisted quotations and facts, but most reporters aren't so sloppy.
So we need to keep fighting. Happily, a judge late last month declared the Baltimore City Council's attempt at harassing crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) there to be a violation of freedom of speech. That decision may give pause to the Washington state legislature and the New York City Council, both considering anti-CPC bills. A Bronx Rally to Save the Life Centers on Feb. 7 drew pastors and other Christians, including leaders from predominantly black churches angry that abortionists kill most African-American babies.
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." That's the concluding line of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Christians always beat against the current-but some worried two years ago that we might be swamped. No way. Thanks be to God.
Email Marvin Olasky