Marvin Olasky of World magazine is reporting that the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has been accepting a large grant from a pro-choice philanthropy funded by Hewlett Packard: http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/19628.
The grant was earmarked for addressing teenage pregnancy. And the grant appears to have influenced a panel discussion on that topic that NAE hosted at a recent Washington, D.C. gathering of “Q” for mostly young, elite evangelicals. That panel included the head of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, through which the Hewlett Foundation transmits grants. And she helped ensure the panel focused on contraceptive distribution. Likely the panel influenced a well-publicized poll of “Q” participants, which media cited as evidence that young evangelicals favor church affirmation of contraceptives for unmarried people. The panel largely avoided the traditional Christian teaching about chastity.
NAE President Leith Anderson had not responded to Olasky’s request for comment at the time of writing. Olasky plans further reports.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Anderson, who retired last year as pastor of a large Minnesota church, will not take a public stand on that state’s upcoming vote on the definition of marriage. “When churches start getting really politically engaged, they often lose focus over what is their primary mission,” Anderson told the newspaper. “There are appropriate times to do it [be politically engaged]. I think churches should, but they need to be careful about what they do. I especially think churches should seek to be nonpartisan in their approach to teaching moral truths.”
Anderson recalled he had stated his opposition to same-sex marriage in 2004 while at the church. NAE officially opposes same-sex marriage. But in recent years NAE has moved away from its traditional focus on social issues and increasingly has endorsed more politically liberal causes. Under Anderson’s presidency NAE has opposed U.S. enhanced interrogation techniques, called for nuclear disarmament, and endorsed Comprehensive Immigration Reform including legalization for illegal immigrants. Last Friday, Anderson publicly backed President Obama’s decision to stop enforcing U.S. immigration law against illegal immigrants under age 31 who assert they came to the U.S. as minors.
If Anderson is quoted correctly, he seems to believe the church should not vigorously affirm laws upholding the traditional definition of marriage. But he thinks the church should publicly espouse very specific positions on issues like immigration law and national security, where Christian teachings are not so traditionally defined.
Under Anderson, NAE in its public stances has drifted politically leftward, without any sense of debate among its overwhelmingly conservative constituency. But NAE has also retained traditional official positions on marriage and sexual ethics. Now Anderson’s reticence about marriage law in Minnesota, and NAE’s reported partnership with a pro-choice philanthropy touting contraceptives for teenagers, create the impression that NAE views on marriage and sexual ethics, at least as expressed by its president, maybe now are not so solid.
What do members of NAE’s board think about these developments? And maybe more importantly, what do members of NAE’s member denominations think?