Barna Research Group recently reported that evangelical Christians are less likely than most to have friends of other religious beliefs. A whopping 91 percent of evangelicals said that their current friends are “mostly similar” to them when it comes to religious beliefs. However, this statistic wasn’t broken down by age or generation, which is critical to understanding how American evangelicals are changing.
Pew Research found that the younger an evangelical is, the more progressive they will likely be on a number of issues. Public Religion Research Institute discovered that younger white evangelicals (ages 18-39) are far more likely to say that American Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the U.S., and that they are comfortable with public displays of Muslim culture and religious expression, than those ages 40 and up.
We launched our organization, Neighborly Faith, when we were graduate students at Wheaton College in 2015. We were there during the saga between Wheaton College administration and Dr. Larycia Hawkins, and when Wheaton students penned an open letter in the Washington Post, condemning Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s inflammatory remarks about Muslims after the San Bernardino shootings. We saw a growing crop of evangelical college students who wanted to love their Muslim neighbors as themselves, but who were getting little guidance on how to do so from their elders.
We have also been inspired by the work of Fuller Theological Seminary professor Matthew Kaemingk, who has traveled to evangelical collegesacross the U.S. to encourage a posture of hospitality toward Muslim immigrants. There are also 2018 books like Islam in North America:Loving Our Muslim Neighbors by Micah Fries and Keith Whitfield and The Dignity Revolution by Daniel Darling, each authored by evangelical thought leaders who are active in the lives of college students.