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Way In

Saving the Gospel

Exit polls in the 2004 US election showed that 79% of white evangelicals voted Republican. At 23% of the electorate, it's not unreasonable to say that they gave George Bush the win.

But signs of disenchantment with this state of affairs are emerging. For one, a group of evangelicals including Os Guinness have launched An Evangelical Manifesto, aiming to distance themselves from fundamentalism and reclaim the evo label.

'There was a single week three years ago,' says Guinness, about the genesis of the project, 'when I?met 12 evangelicals all giving up on it… They were embarrassed, they were ashamed, they were disgusted by the cultural/political baggage surrounding evangelicalism.'

Conversely, the 'Red Letter Christians', led by Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis, are more ambivalent about the term. 'I don't call myself an evangelical any more,' says Campolo, 'the word is so married to right wing politics.' Named for their focus on the words of Jesus, they stand for evangelical theology and the social justice neglected by the religious right.

But it's not just the big shakes who are moving on. Since 2005, Bush's approval among young white evangelicals has fallen by more than a quarter. Two terms late it may be, but there may be time to save the USA.