New York – Among the Christian leaders on TIME’s first list of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” are Doug Coe, who started the annual National Prayer Breakfast scheduled for this Thursday in Washington, and two Evangelicals who join the White House’s weekly Monday call with Christian leaders, Richard Land and Ted Haggard.
Others include Michael Gerson, a Bush speechwriter; Pentecostals Bishop Thomas Dexter “T.D.” Jakes and preacher Joyce Meyers; Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr., Stuart Epperson of Salem Communications; and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention.
ONLINE, go to http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101050207/photoessay/ A collection of past TIME articles about evangelicals is posted at http://www.time.com/time/archive/collections/0,21428,c_evangelicals,00.shtml
TIME’s cover language asks, “What Does Bush Owe Them? Do the Democrats Need More Religion?” (on newsstands Mon., Jan. 31). Increasingly anxious conservative Christians – who mobilized as never before to re-elect a president they see as one of their own—will hear the President spell out his priorities in Wednesday’s State of the Union address, reports TIME’s national political correspondent Karen Tumulty. And on Thursday morning, they’ll tell him their priorities at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.
“A lame-duck Bush may be less sensitive to the demands of his base,” writes Tumulty. “He has staked out a daunting second-term agenda dominated by remaking both the Middle East and Social Security, which could make him more cautious about overreaching on social issues like gay marriage and abortion.” Bush won 78% of the vote among the quarter of the electorate that is white evangelical Christian, and 52% of the Catholic vote. TIME’s Perry Bacon reports the Democratic National Committee is considering creating a center for religious outreach that would focus on increasing voter turnout among regular churchgoers, mirroring Republican efforts.
“TIME’s list of 25, composed with the help of preachers, politicians, scholars and activists, deliberately leaves out some familiar figures—Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Don Wildmon—whose stories are well known,” according to Steve Koepp, TIME’s Deputy Managing Editor. “Instead, we focus on those whose influence is on the rise or who have carved out a singular role for themselves.”
American Evangelicalism’s multiple denominations “seems to defy unity, let alone hierarchy. Yet its members share basic commitments: to the divinity and saving power of Jesus, to personal religious conversion, to the Bible’s authority and to the spreading of the Gospel. Those same understandings unite the generation of influential leaders who channel conservative Christianity’s overflowing energies,” according to TIME, which provides a primer to their growing force in American life.
Insights from the TIME profiles, developed by David Van Biema, TIME’s religion writer:
-- Several members of Congress live in rooms rented in the Capitol Hill town house owned by a foundation affiliated with Doug Coe’s Fellowship Foundation, TIME reports. Coe’s gala annual National Prayer Breakfast will be held in Wash., DC this Thursday (Feb. 3). Many people think the Breakfast “ is hosted by Congress. It is not. It is organized by some 33 members of Congress who belong to a powerful but secretive Christian group called the Fellowship Foundation,” writes Van Biema.
-- Richard Land and Ted Haggard participate in a White House teleconference every Monday with a handful of Christian conservatives to plot strategy on gay marriage, abortion and other issues on the social agenda..
-- George W. Bush’s favorite tutor may be Richard John Neuhaus. Bush calls “Father Richard” and has said, he “helps me articulate these (religious) things.”. A senior Administration official confirms that Neuhaus “does have a fair amount of under the radar influence. He is a first rate thinker” who has has helped shape Bush’s policies on abortion, stem cell research, cloning and the marriage amendment.
-- White House officials consider James Dobson’s demands too absolutist and impractical. “We respect him greatly,” says a Bush aide, “but his political influence is not everything people might think.” Dobson is founder of Focus on the Family.
-- U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Committee, is said to have presidential ambitions. “Never say never,” says the Catholic who is a darling of Protestant Evangelicals.
-- Many believe Rick Warren is the successor to Billy Graham as America’s minister – more so than Graham’s son Franklin Graham.
TIME’s list, followed by summaries of the profiles:
THE FINANCIERS: Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, 55, Fieldstead & Co., Irvine, CA.
THE LESSON PLANNER: David Barton, 51, advocacy organization, WallBuilders; co-chair of the Texas Republican Party
THE STEALTH PERSUADER: Douglas Coe, 76, the Fellowship Foundation
REBORN AND REHABILITATED: Charles Colson, 73, Prison Fellowship Ministries
BRINGING LATINOS TO THE TABLE: Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr., 47, Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), Philadelphia
THE CULTURE WARRIOR: James Dobson, 68, founder, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO
A HIGH-FIDELITY MESSENGER: Stuart Epperson, 69, co-founder, Salem Communications
THE PRESIDENT’S SPRITUAL SCRIBE: Mike Gerson, 40, White House speechwriter
FATHER AND SON IN THE SPIRIT: Billy Graham, 86, and Franklin Graham, 52
OPENING UP THE UMBRELLA GROUP: Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals
PIONEERING MASS APPEAL: Bill Hybels, 52, founder of the Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill.
THE PENTECOSTAL MEDIA MOGUL: Bishop Thomas Dexter “T.D.” Jakes, 47, The Potter’s House, Dallas
THE AGENDA SETTER: Diane Knippers, 53, president, Institute on Religion and Democracy
THE CHRISTIAN POWER COUPLE: Rev. Tim and Beverly LaHaye, 78 and 75, author of the Left Behind series of novels and (Beverly) founder of Concerned Women for America
GOD’S LOBBYIST: Richard Land, 58, Southern Baptist Convention’s main man in Washington
CHRISTIANITY WITH AN EDGE: Brian McLaren, 48, McLaren, a nondenominational pastor, MD
A FEMININE SIDE OF EVANGELISM: Joyce Meyer, 61, Pentecostal preacher, Fenton, MO
BUSHISM MADE CATHOLIC: Richard John Neuhaus, 68, founder of the religio-political journal First Things, a Lutheran-turned-Catholic priest
THE INTELLECTUAL EXEMPLAR: Mark Noll , scholar, founder of Wheaton’s Center for the Study of American Evangelicals
THEOLOGICAL TRAFFIC COP: J.I. Packer, 78, executive editor, Christianity Today magazine
THE POINT MAN ON CAPITOL HILL: U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), 46, Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Committee
THE ALL-MIGHTY’S ATTORNEY-AT-LAW: Jay Sekulow, 48, Americn Center for Law & Justice, Washington
KEEPER OF ‘THE FAITH’: Stephen Strang, 54., publisher of Charisma, a Christian magazine, Lake Mary, FL
AMERICA’S PEOPLE’S PASTOR: Rick Warren, 50, author, The Purpose Driven Life, pastor, Saddleback megachurch in Lake Forest, Calif.
WORLDLY PURSUER: Ralph Winter, 80, Frontier Mission Fellowship, California
Summaries of TIME’s profiles:
THE FINANCIERS: Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, 55, Fieldstead & Co. foundation, Irvine, CA. Projects that savings-and-loan multimillionaires Howard and Roberta Ahmanson have paid for over the years through Fieldstead & Co., a private philanthropy in Irvine, Calif., include an institute linked to the anti-evolution intelligent design movement and a study of social endeavors by third-world Pentecostal churches. The have lately been counseling newly powerful Christians about hubris. Says Roberta, “Christlike humility and (improving) the lives of human beings should be the goals.”
THE LESSON PLANNER: David Barton, 51, advocacy organization, WallBuilders; co-chair of the Texas Republican Party His books, videotapes, and speeches can be found in churches all over America, educating an evangelical generation in what might be called Christian counter-history. His thesis: that the U.S. was a self-consciously religious nation from the time of the Founders until the 1963 Supreme Court school-prayer ban. His organization, WallBuilders, and his writings like The Myth of Separation, have made him a hero to millions—including some powerful politicians. He has been the co-chair of the Texas Republican Party for eight years, and is friends with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Heconducts tours of the Capitol, and shows his copy of the Bible Congress once printed —for use in the schools..
THE STEALTH PERSUADER: Douglas Coe, 76, the Fellowship Foundation The gala annual National Prayer Breakfast is not hosted by Congress, but by some 30 members who belong Douglas Coe’s Fellowship Foundation. Several members of Congress live in rooms rented in the Fellowship’s Capitol Hill rowhouse. Hundreds of its prayer-and-conversation offshoots have convened at the White House, Pentagon, and other agencies. Coe also befriends dictators and torturers. “He would still hold out hope that these people could be redeemed, and try to work through them to help the people over whom they have authority,” says Richard Carver, president of the Fellowship’s board of directors.
REBORN AND REHABILITATED: Charles Colson, 73, Prison Fellowship Ministries His spectacular Christian rehabilitation began after his Watergate jail term with his best-selling conversion narrative, Born Again. He founded Prison Fellowship Ministries and built it into a $50 million organization that operates in all 50 states and in 110 countries. His campaign for humane prison conditions helped define Compassionate Conservatism and served as a model for the faith-based initiatives President Bush favors. Most recently, he helped cobble together an alliance of Evangelicals and Catholic conservatives, advised Karl Rove on Sudan policy and was a founding member of the anti-gay-marriage lobbying effort, The Arlington Group.
BRINGING LATINOS TO THE TABLE: Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr., 47, Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), Philadelphia In 2000, George W. Bush formed a bond with that has vaulted Cortés to the top tier of the fast-growing Hispanic Protestant community. He has expanded his two-decade-old organizationnationwide, building houses in poor communities, offering startup loans to Hispanic businesses and launching an AIDS awareness program. In 2002, Cortés established the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, addressed annually by Bush and attended by a bipartisan slate of political heavy hitters. “Part of integrating is understanding power,” says Cortés. “Our people have power but they have never used it.”
THE CULTURE WARRIOR: James Dobson, 68, founder, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO Since stepping down as president in May 2003 of Focus on the Family (which has an email list of 2.5 million supporters), Dobson is now aggressively involved in advocating specific policies calling for a ban on gay marriage and restraint of the judiciary. He is also threatening to target Democratic Senators at the polls if they don’t vote the way he likes on Bush’s judicial nominations. According to TIME, “White House officials consider his demands too absolutist and impractical. “We respect him greatly,” says a Bush aide, “but his political influence is not everything people might think.”
A HIGH-FIDELITY MESSENGER: Stuart Epperson, 69, co-founder, Salem Communications Salem Communications, the company Epperson founded with his brother-in-law, Edward Atsinger, in 1972, owns 104 Christian radio stations in 24 of the top 25 U.S. markets and reaches an estimated 5 million listeners a week. The broadcaster’s format, 15- and 30-minute Christian teaching and talk shows, engages listeners not just to consider hot-button issues like abortion and stem-cell research, but to weigh in with letter-writing campaigns and phone calls to politicians.
THE PRESIDENT’S SPRITUAL SCRIBE: Mike Gerson, 40, White House speechwriter As George W. Bush’s chief scribe since the 2000 presidential campaign, the former journalist shares the President’s devout Christian faith and Bush’s view that the role of providence in human affairs should be reaffirmed in the public square. “Scrubbing public discourse of religious ideas,” says Gerson, would not only lead to dull speeches, but “would remove one of the main sources of social justice in our history.”
FATHER AND SON IN THE SPIRIT: Billy Graham, 86, and Franklin Graham, 52 He has had the ear of Presidents for five decades, but Billy Graham, now 86, stuck to soul saving and left the political proselytizing to others. He explained his self-imposed separation of church and state in the language of a gospel preacher: “It’s not what I was called to do.” Son Franklin, 52 , the anointed successor to the Graham evangelical empire, has no such reticence. “As a minister, I have every right to speak out on moral issues,” he says. Some suggest that the difference in approach is the result both of temperament and target audience. “Dr. Graham, having (ministered) to many Presidents, is more private about his counsel than Franklin, who speaks more to average Americans than their leaders,” says Rod Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio.
OPENING UP THE UMBRELLA GROUP: Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals As president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Haggard represents 30 million conservative Christians spread over 47,000 churches from 52 diverse denominations. Every Monday he is one of just a handful of evangelical leaders patched into a conference call with West Wing staffers to discuss policy concerns. “We wanted him (Bush) to use the force of his office to campaign aggressively for a federal marriage amendment, which he did not do,” says Haggard. He is working to broaden his group’s agenda. “With the growth of evangelicalism worldwide,” says Haggard, “we need to impact the cultureworldwide.”
PIONEERING MASS APPEAL: Bill Hybels, founder of the Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill., Hybels leads a network of 10,500 churches and trains more than 100,000 pastors each year. His goal was simply to hook non-member “seekers” with a formula of live bands performing contemporary Christian tunes, easy-to-follow sermons, short services—and free child care.
THE PENTECOSTAL MEDIA MOGUL: Bishop Thomas Dexter “T.D.” Jakes, 47, The Potter’s House, Dallas His teachings reach far beyond his 35,000-member suburban Dallas church. He represents a new age of evangelicals, the neo-Pentecostals, who combine intense spirituality with a therapeutic approach. In his new book, Ten Commandments of Working in a Hostile Environment, he answers critics of his popular style. The African-American preacher’s R-rated religious movie about sexual abuse, Woman, Thou Art Loosed, has cracked the box office Top 10; his self-empowerment book He-Motions: Even Strong Men Struggle was a bestseller; his record label Dexterity Sounds/EMI Gospel won its first Grammy.
THE AGENDA SETTER: Diane Knippers, 53, president, Institute on Religion and Democracy Knippers was among the conservative leaders who helped persuade the Bush Administration to press for a cease fire in the Sudan civil war and an end to the oppression of Christians there. But the IRD can be a divisive force; it has has helped create deep fissures within more liberal mainline denominations, especially around the issue of homosexuality. “IRD,” says Ronald Balmer, head of the religion department at Barnard College, “is starting to have the kind of impact that think tanks like Heritage Foundation and Brookings Institute enjoy.” A report the IRD issued last year criticized decisions to divest from companies doing business in Israel to protest its treatment of Palestinians; as a result, liberal Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) called her for her counsel.
THE CHRISTIAN POWER COUPLE: Rev. Tim and Beverly LaHaye, 78 and 75, author of the Left Behind series of novels and (Beverly) founder of Concerned Women for America The Rev. Tim LaHaye’s role in founding Falwell’s Moral Majority is only his second most notable venture: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (and its 11 sequels have sold more than 42 million copies), setting an image about how the world will end. “In terms of its impact on Christianity,” says Falwell, “it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times outside the Bible.” His wife Beverly founded Concerned Women for America, one of Washington’s most influential anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage organizations.
GOD’S LOBBYIST: Richard Land, 58, Southern Baptist Convention’s main man in Washington Land helped engineer his 16 million member Convention’s 1979 shift from moderacy to hardline conservativism, Since arriving in Washington in 1987, he has cultivated dozens of sympathetic members of Congress. The men around his longtime friend George W. Bush call him, individually and as part of a weekly teleconference with other Christian conservatives to plot strategy on gay marriage, abortion and other issues on the social agenda. Princeton- and-Oxford educated, he rallies the faithful on radio programs reaching 1.5 million listeners daily and he regularly battles culture-war foes on venues such as Meet the Press.
CHRISTIANITY WITH AN EDGE: Brian McLaren, 48, McLaren, a nondenominational pastor, MD McLaren, is the elder statesman of a movement called the “emerging church.” This new vanguard, mostly 35 or younger, has the goal of deconstructing traditional church culture yet remaining true to scripture through discussion instead of doctrinal diktat. A typical church service to use art and digital imagery to engage imagination. McLaren’s 2001 book, A New Kind of Christian, resonated worldwide.” If his movement can survive in the increasingly politicized world of conservative Christianity, McLaren could make Evangelicalism relevant for worshippers weaned on pop-cultural imports like Christian rock,” according to TIME.
A FEMININE SIDE OF EVANGELISM: Joyce Meyer, 61, Pentecostal preacher, Fenton, MO Stories from her personal history—her abuse as a child, her failed first marriage—resonate with her predominantly female audience. She preaches a gospel of prosperity that promises that God rewards tithing with his blessing. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she has a $4 million home and a $10 million jet. Meyer’s spokesman says 93% of the $8 million her ministry takes in each months goes to more than 150 charities worldwidebut the Christian watchdog group Wall Watchers has requested an IRS investigation into the ministry’s finances. Meyers delivers her message on more than 600 television stations, 400 radio stations, and in books and stadium-filling appearances.
BUSHISM MADE CATHOLIC: Richard John Neuhaus, 68, founder of the religio-political journal First Things, a Lutheran-turned-Catholic priest Neuhaus helped deliver the Catholic vote to George W. Bush last November. He has worked tirelessly to convince conservative Catholics and evangelicals to make common cause. When Bush met with journalists from religious publications last year, the authority he cited most often was the man he calls “Father Richard,” who, he explained, “helps me articulate these (religious) things.” A senior Administration official confirms that Neuhaus “does have a fair amount of under the radar influence. He is a first rate thinker” who has has helped shape Bush’s policies on abortion, stem cell research, cloning and the marriage amendment.
THE INTELLECTUAL EXEMPLAR: Mark Noll , scholar, founder of Wheaton’s Center for the Study of American Evangelicals “The scandal of the evangelical mind,” Mark Noll wrote a decade ago in a book bearing precisely that title, “... is that there is not much of an Evangelical mind.” An anti-intellectual streak that lead many mainstream arbiters to put quotes around the term “evangelical scholarship.” But Noll’s work on the Evangelical role in American history earned him a guest professorship at Harvard; The Atlantic Monthly called his book America’s God, “almost certainly the most significant work of American historical scholarship” in 2002. He founded Wheaton’s Center for the Study of American Evangelicals and has helped corral millions in grant money for other intellectual outposts.
THEOLOGICAL TRAFFIC COP: J.I. Packer, 78, executive editor, Christianity Today magazine The Oxford-trained theologian’s 1973 book, Knowing God, outlined a conservative Christian theology both deeper and more embracing than many Americans had encountered. The book’s popularity led to Packer’s current role as a doctrinal Solomon. His pronouncements as executive editor at the magazine Christianity Today exert influence beyond that magazine’s readership.
THE POINT MAN ON CAPITOL HILL: U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), 46, Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Committee Highly controversial for his attacks on gays and supporters of abortion rights, Santorum, “the conservative standard-bearer for social conservatives on the Hill,” is said to have presidential ambitions. “Never say never,” says the Catholic who is a darling of Protestant Evangelicals. He speaks monthly with Evangelical leaders to brief them on the status of legislation, while his staff regularly taps Evangelical broadcasters to help mobilize support for their agenda. This session that includes pushing laws aimed at limiting the access of minors to interstate abortion and giving legal rights to fertilized eggs in utero.
THE ALL-MIGHTY’S ATTORNEY-AT-LAW: Jay Sekulow, 48, Americn Center for Law & Justice, Washington The 700,000-member center with a budget of $30 million has become a powerful counterweight to the American Civil Liberties Union. Its latest fights are supporting to congressional ban on partial-birth abortions and pushing for Bush’s judicial appointments. The Center has won several religious-freedom cases including Supreme Court decisions allowing Bible-study clubs on public-school campuses and protecting anti-abortion demonstrators’ rights to rally outside abortion clinics.
KEEPER OF ‘THE FAITH’: Stephen Strang, 54., publisher of Charisma, a Christian magazine, Lake Mary, FL Strang has been a Bush favorite ever since his homegrown Christian publishing house, Strang Communications, released The Faith of George W. Bush, the first spiritual biography of the president, in 2003. In the last 30 years, he has built his company into a $33 million business that churns out seven magazines and 100 books a year. G.P. Taylor’s Shadowmancer has been hailed as Harry Potter’s “Christian cousin.” Strang is also forging new links with Wal-Mart. His lead publication, Charisma, tracks the fast growing charismatic movement, a Christian magazine that wrangled a Bush interview last year.
AMERICA’S PEOPLE’S PASTOR: Rick Warren, 50, author, The Purpose Driven Life, pastor, Saddleback megachurch in Lake Forest, Calif. Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, has sold over 20 million copies. On the eve of the Inauguration, Warren, who pastors the 22,000 member Saddleback megachurch delivered the invocation at the kickoff celebration. He plans to enlist Saddleback’s global network of 10,000 churches in tackling problems such as poverty, disease and ignorance. Many believe Warren is the successor to the Billy Graham’s role as America’s minister.
WORLDLY PURSUER: Ralph Winter, 80, Frontier Mission Fellowship, California With his impassioned call in 1974 for Christians to serve the world’s “unreached peoples,” Winter revolutionized the true lifeblood of evangelicals-not political activism at home in the U.S., but missionary work overseas. He describes himself as “a Christian social engineer.” Working through the William Carey International University and the U.S. Center for World Mission which he founded , he is producing a new generation of Christian message carriers. Says Winter, “It’s this movement, not the formal Christian church, that’s growing. That’s our frontier.”