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Columnist sees shift in evangelical politics

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USA Today columnist Tom Krattenmaker of Portland, Ore., makes a rare appearance in Sequim to talk about the taboo: religion and politics.


His lecture “Breaking Formation: The Changing Religious Dynamic in Politics” continues Trinity United Methodist Church's ongoing series “Faith in Public Life” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, at the church, 100 Blake Ave. Tickets are free but required and may be obtained by phoning the church at 683-5367 or by e-mailing Donations are accepted for expenses.


Along with his duties as associate vice president for public affairs and communications at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Krattenmaker contributes to USA Today every five to seven weeks, with columns that often challenge popular misconceptions about evangelicals.


“What (evangelical) has meant to many is Republican politics,” he said. “If you go out on the street and ask, 'What are evangelical Christians?' many might say right-wing voters and obsessed with being against gay rights.”


Krattenmaker, a former reporter for the Orange County (Calif.) Register and the Associated Press, said the public face of evangelicals is beginning to change.


“It's kind of the same-old, same-old rhetoric in this election,” he said. “Things will look a lot different in 2016 and 2020 as younger evangelicals grow and become more influential. This paradigm we have seen is in its final days. Not that Christians are going to go away from politics but things are going to spread out and become more complex.”


He believes people can't see it on the surface of the 2012 election, but in the future the public will see more politically independent and politically minded evangelicals concerned about the environment, hunger and humane immigration.


“They are defying the conventional Republican thinking on a lot of these issues,” he said. “It's not just the issues and positions you use, but the rhetoric and how you treat your opponents acting like Christ. It's much more idealistic and compassionate. These new dynamics could change things in positive ways.”


In his discussion, Krattenmaker intends to discuss parts of his upcoming book, “The Evangelicals You Don't Know.” His previous book “Onward Christian Athletes,” about Christianity in professional sports, brought him notoriety across the country in interviews for national magazines and TV shows.


As interest begins to grow in his second book, Krattenmaker said he's seeing invitations from a range of perspectives in the fundamentalist Christian world to the American humanist ideology.


“I'm proud I'm not being pigeonholed for being partisan or an ideologue,” he said. “There's already plenty of arguments. I'm hoping we can have some reasonable conversation and stop amplifying the differences we have, and start realizing things we have in common.”


Following his lecture, he'll host a Q&A.



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