Late last year, an election night conversation turned to a surprising topic: the divides among evangelicals. Commenting on the likelihood of controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore carrying Alabama’s Christian voters, Rick Santorum—a Catholic and former presidential candidate—said the major differences among evangelicals are generational in nature. Younger evangelicals, Santorum said, aren’t as engaged in some issues, specifically abortion, as their parents. The implication: That disconnect could impact how they vote.
The theory is backed up by recent research. On political and social views, Millennial evangelicals are more likely than their older counterparts to take a liberal stance, Pew reported this summer. A 2014 Pew Research poll showed 45% of evangelical Protestants born between 1981 and 1996 support same-sex marriage, compared to 23% of those born before 1981.
Similarly, 51% of Millennial evangelicals say homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 32% of older evangelicals.
The differences between younger and older Christians don’t likely indicate Millennial evangelicals are poised for a shift to the left, an article in The Economist posited. Still, the views of younger Christians are pertinent for churches trying to navigate a quickly shifting political and social climate.
Their ability to hold fast to the truths of Scripture, while inviting and encouraging dialogue on difficult and divisive issues, could well shape how post-Millennial generations view the church, and their place in it.