Last Week, Today... Up for debate: "Evangelical"

Last week's roundup on faith, politics, and culture

1. Up for debate: "Evangelical"

Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote a column a few weeks ago explaining why this year's election has made him hate the word "evangelical," as it's been defined to mean either "election-year voting blocs or our most buffoonish television personalities." 

Since then, more Christians have been speaking out to re-frame "evangelicalism." Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, pointed out that while the media mostly refers to evangelicals as "white," Latinos, who tend to support immigration and criminal justice reform, are among the fastest growing evangelical groups. Laura Turner also tells her story in Jezebel of being raised evangelical and explains why she is grateful for that. Mark Galli, editor in chief of Christianity Today, asks whether this election will shape the future of evangelicalism: Will our core faith tenets will unite us, or will our political judgments, on race and sexuality, divide us?

2. "Notre Dame rebukes ugly politics, gives award to Biden and Boehner"

While evangelicals are trying to figure things out, a Catholic institution - the University of Notre Dame - has announced that it will give its most prestigious award for American Catholics to both Vice President Joe Biden and former House Speaker John Boehner, devout Catholics and longtime political foes.

3. A non-condescending analysis of why ordinary Americans like Trump

It's common to dismiss Trump supporters as "just racist." While racism is certainly one of Trump's levers, his biggest talking-point might actually be the harmful effects of free-trade on jobs. So Trump's populist appeal might actually be left-wing-inspired. 

On the same note, Mike Gerson, a conservative adviser, warns that American conservatives who align with the economic status quo are doomed. Conservatives, he argues, must pay attention to the popular discontent with diminishing wages and intensified competition and promote a conservative vision of the common good. 

4. What do you do if you don't like any candidates?

Russell Moore offers some thought-provoking reasons why it might be better to "write in" an independent candidate than endorse "moral evil." Katie Thompson, editor of Shared Justice, urges people, however, to not stand back out of cynicism and apathy, but to engage and try to improve political parties from within.  

5. Election news...

Last night, Univision hosted the #DemDebate, where we learned new things about Bernie Sanders' mixed views on Fidel Castro and Nicaragua's Sandanistas. But the woman who perhaps stole the spotlight was Lucia Quiej, a mother of five and primary breadwinner whose husband was deported to Guatemala for driving with an expired license. Check out her question to the candidates here.

Overall, the big story was Michigan. All the polls had Clinton beating Sanders by a margin of at least 15 points, only for Sanders to win. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEightcalled this one of the "greatest polling errors in primary history." Michigan's voter demographics were, moreover, skewed towards Clinton: 24% African-American population (twice national average), 56% women, 55% were 45+ years and older. This is huge for Sanders, but maybe not so much for the Democratic party. Although Michigan is a blue state, Democratic turnout trailed Republican turnout by more than 100,000 votes.

As for the Republicans, Trump won, of course, but Ted Cruz barely edged out John Kasich for second place by less than a percentage point, prompting some to wonder whether Kasich has a better shot than Rubio (who didn't win a single delegate a few nights ago) in this election. In a change from previous primaries, late-deciders were torn between Kasich and Cruz... not Rubio. 

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