Reviewed by Richard Urban
The Day Christians Changed America is a good read for anyone who wants to know the real story of how Donald Trump was elected with the support of conservative Christians.
Barna defines a new group of conservative Christians which he labels SAGE Cons, or Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservatives. Most media polls claim that 30 % to 35% of Americans and “evangelicals”. But many of those self-described as evangelicals have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Barna describes a more ideologically cohesive group. They are pro-gun right, hardworking mostly white, Protestant conservatives with a median age around 60 who are fed up with the corruption in Washington DC.
This group, although ignored by the media, were the group that put Trump over the finish line victoriously in the 2016 Presidential election.
It is fascinating to see the comparison between SAGE Cons and the average American. For instance 97% of SAGE Cons say it is extremely or very important for them to increase their understanding of the Bible, but just 44% of other adults. On political issue, the divergence is just as extreme. 90% of SAGE Cons believe that commitment and obedience to God is the most important factor in determining a person’s success in life. Only 14% of other adults believe the same. 60% of non-SAGE Cons support same-sex marriage, but just 1% of SAGE Cons.
Barna goes into considerable detail about the major Presidential candidates’ religious beliefs. He details a crucial June 21, 2016 meeting that was a turning point. At the meeting Donald Trump met with 1000 evangelical leaders who were not yet committed to vote for him.
Another interesting facet of this book is how Barna shows the limited effect that Christian pastors are having in equipping their congregations to think from a Biblical perspective in terms of political issues.
Barna also points the way to the future. He wonders if evangelical Christians should have some sort of pre-campaign meeting among evangelical Christians a pick the most viable candidate instead of fighting against each other. He points out the lackadaisical attitude that many Christians have toward protecting religious freedom. He indicates the need for raising up the next generation, since the SAGE Cons are aging. Most of the younger evangelicals do not have a clear Biblical worldview. As an Unificationist, I see the great need for getting our Biblical worldview out into the world, as those under 50 now have a more liberal worldview.
Barna mentions Kingdom awareness in the context of being politically involved in the community. I believe Unificationists are especially well positioned to spread that awareness and to educate people with a Biblical worldview. I recommend reading Barna’s book as an easy read that will be enlightening and inspiring.