During my time in the White House, the most intense and urgent evangelical activism I saw did not come on the expected values issues—though abortion and the traditional family weren’t ignored—but on genocide, global AIDS and human trafficking. The most common request I received was, “We need to meet with the president on Sudan”—not on gay marriage. This reflects a head-snapping generational change among evangelicals, from leaders like Falwell and Robertson to Rick Warren, focused on fighting poverty and AIDS in Africa, and Gary Haugen, confronting rape and sexual slavery in the developing world. Since leaving government, I’ve asked young evangelicals on campuses from Wheatonto Harvard who they view as their model of Christian activism. Their answer is nearly unanimous: Bono.
Many evangelicals have begun elbowing against the narrowness of the religious right, becoming more globally focused and more likely to consider themselves “pro-life and pro-poor.” Depending on your perspective, this may be creeping liberalism or political maturity. But where did it come from?