The increasingly left-leaning National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has eagerly embraced President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize as somehow validating the NAE’s own impending call for nuclear disarmament. Ironically, the NAE is moving almost in tandem with its former nemesis, the old Religious Left’s National Council of Churches (NCC), which is preparing its own ant-nuke statement for release later this month. Over 60 years ago the NAE was founded as a more conservative alternative to the NCC.
Apparently the NAE is now eager to echo the liberal Mainline Protestants at the NCC. “The ambition to free future generations from the fear of indiscriminate destruction is a truly nonpartisan ambition that resonates with our deepest moral convictions,” explained NAE board member and Florida mega-church pastor Joel Hunter. “President Obama is to be congratulated for setting a course so that the generation that had school drills to hide under our desks in case of nuclear attack should be the source of a permanent recess from fear for our grandchildren.”
NAE President Leith Anderson further explained: “I first heard the call for a world free of nuclear weapons from President Ronald Reagan when he addressed the National Association of Evangelicals over twenty-five years ago. The Nobel prize for President Obama acknowledges and perpetuates the Reagan vision.”
How “Reagan’s vision” is necessarily tied to Obama’s Nobel or the NAE’s designs for nuclear disarmament is unclear. Reagan’s vision called for spending the old Soviet Union into bankruptcy while neutralizing the Soviet nuclear arsenal with a U.S. missile shield that rendered ICBM’s strategically irrelevant. The Cold Warrior President believed negotiated nuclear disarmament was only facilitated by mutual national interests, and could be sustained only by rigorous verification and the implied threat of rearmament.
It’s very doubtful that the NAE, ever eager for New York Times and wider cultural approval from secular elites, will be similarly hard-headed and visionary. Seemingly, NAE has already outsourced its policymaking on nuclear weapons to the new Evangelical Left nuclear disarmament group, The Two Futures Project (2FP). A primary donor for 2FP seems to be The Ploughshares Fund, the San Francisco-based philanthropy relic from the nuclear freeze protest days of the 1980’s. Apparently, and conveniently, it was 2FP that actually released NAE’s official response to Obama’s Nobel. Of course, 2FP’s director Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, who prominently spoke at the NAE’s recent public policy forum outside Washington, D.C., was quoted at length.
“There is much to be done and the road to a world free of nuclear weapons is daunting and long,” Wigg-Stevenson opined. “But this Nobel Prize highlights the importance of setting that goal to guide our steps in the short term as we seek to shape a more secure world. To prevent nuclear terrorism, we must make progress toward the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. A new generation needs to deal once and for all with the legacy of the Cold War.”
Wigg-Stevenson’s group was set up fairly recently to inject pro-disarmament arguments into once solidly conservative evangelical spheres. A disciple of far-left Yale Chaplain and New York Riverside Church pastor William Sloane Coffin, as well as of former Democratic Senator Alan Cranston, Wigg-
Stevenson previously worked for a Religious Left anti-nuclear group called Faithful Security headquartered at a liberal United Methodist seminary. Old Religious Left demands for disarming the U.S., after many decades of refrain, had grown stale and were largely ignored. So Wigg-Stevenson has more successfully emerged as an evangelical spokesman for nuclear disarmament, with the now eager to please NAE as a primary channel for the disarmament message.
NAE has for decades been associated with traditional conservative moral causes. Evangelical activism in recent decades has focused on pro-life and pro-marriage causes. The Evangelical Left desperately wants to steer America’s largest demographic away from these unwelcome moral concerns and towards more left-friendly causes such as Global Warming, liberalized immigration, opposing U.S.-torture, and nuclear disarmament. Ever so cooperatively, the NAE has now embraced all these causes, with fighting nukes being its most recent issue du jour.
Wesleyan Church official and NAE board member Jo Anne Lyon also joined the NAE/2FP equation of Obama’s Nobel with affirmation of their own vision of nuclear disarmament. “The work to reduce the nuclear threat and abolish nuclear weapons is a moral issue that stands at the center of the call to be pro-life,” she declared, careful to incorporate the “pro-life” phraseology that is supposed to motivate evangelicals. “It is a goal that all American Christians, regardless of party, can and should support.”
Like the old Religious Left and NCC, the NAE has begun the long journey of claiming that Christianity offers self-evident guidance on detailed political questions, almost always from a left-leaning stance. Opposition to the NCC/NAE agenda can therefore only be motivated by embittered hearts resisting God’s grace and dedicated to exploiting the poor, torturing the innocent, boiling the planet, disregarding the suffering sojourner, and igniting nuclear holocaust. In true fashion, Wigg-Stevenson denounces nuclear weapons as “enacted blasphemy.”
The stalwart NAE audience that approvingly heard President Reagan deliver his “evil empire” speech 26 years ago almost certainly would be discomfited by NAE’s new alignment with the same old Religious Left that hyperbolically denounced that speech as warmongering. But the old NAE leadership strove to represent unashamed evangelicals in Middle America. The new NAE leadership seems to seek a new and purportedly more fashionable constituency.