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Progressive Evangelicals: Why A Pastor Is Asking Texas Christians To Vote Blue

Doug Pagitt speaking to a crowd in Omaha, Nebraska
Doug Pagitt speaking to a crowd in Omaha, Nebraska

Doug Pagitt doesn't think the words "conservative" and "evangelical" have to go hand in hand.

He's an evangelical Christian pastor from Minneapolis who heads an effort called  Vote Common Good. Pagitt and his compadres are on a marathon bus tour across the country encouraging voters in battleground Congressional districts to elect Democrats on Nov. 6.

For this week's Friday Conversation, Pagitt stopped by KERA studios in advance of his Dallas stop. He'll be in Austin today and other Texas cities throughout the weekend. 

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of Friday Conversations exploring the often complicated relationship between religion and politics in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections. 

On what he sees as a "real crisis for evangelicals"

"We think that a lot of evangelicals have realized the Trump administration and a complicit Congress just don't represent their values at all as they imagined. It might represent the hard, right-winged edge of religion and politics, but that's not where a lot of evangelicals see themselves. 

"It's a real crisis for evangelicals to decide if they're going to be fundamentalists or evangelicals."

Doug Pagitt, director of Vote Common Good
Credit Rick Holter/KERA
Doug Pagitt, director of Vote Common Good

On the line between fundamentalist and evangelical

"It's around exclusion. I think that for a lot of evangelicals, if they don't find their faith being a winsome, compelling invitation to join but rather a hard-edged boundary, they feel like it doesn't represent them very well." 

On his group's claim to be non-partisan while urging people to vote Democratic

"This sort of red-versus-blue mentality is not how most people see their politics. They want to see their politics as a tool they to affect our civic life together ... I'm actually surprised at the number of evangelical leaders who conflate a person's identity with their voting pattern. 

"But, we're not trying to recruit for the Democratic party. We're asking people to vote common good. For us, it seems evident that that means supporting any candidate that  would put a limit on this presidency."

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.