Young Evangelical Vote Is Up For Grabs

They no longer automatically claim Republican mantle
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2008 12:29 PM CDT
Voting members attending the Evangelical Lutheran Church pray before a debate on whether to allow non-celibate gays to be ordained. in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – When Barack Obama and John McCain meet with pastor Rick Warren tomorrow, they’ll be fighting for the future of an increasingly split evangelical voting block, the Washington Post reports. Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, is at the forefront of a movement rippling through young evangelicals and prompting them to focus on issues outside the normal Republican purview, like AIDS, poverty, and climate change.

Jonathan Merritt, for example, is the son of Rev. James Merritt, who after Sept.11 called Bush “God’s man for the hour.” But Jonathan, 25, has recently begun questioning his father’s party. Republican attitudes toward poverty and the environment are “very difficult to reconcile totally” with the Bible, he says, though he’s still uncomfortable with Obama’s stances on gay marriage and abortion. “I’m not ruling out third-party candidates,” he says.