Here Come The Christians

It’s not front-page news, not yet at least, but you might want to take a look at our profile of the city’s nascent evangelical Christian political movement.

“One of these days we’re going to wake up and you’ll have a female, Hispanic, Pentacostal Mayor saying that the public schools will have abstinence education,” is how Tony Carnes, a Columbia University researcher, sees it. (His sympathetic November article in Christianity Today, “From Gotham to Glory,” offers great details on the growing New York evangelical churches.)

Up in the Bronx, Ruben Diaz has been involved in overtly anti-gay politics for a while, but his stridency and his other political interests have limited his power, as has the fact that his contituency is basically limited to Spanish-speaking congregations.

The new addition to the scene is the City Action Coalition, an organization founded by a Brooklyn pastor named Joe Mattera. Its key players also include Central Baptist Church’s Michael Faulkner. Like a lot of the churches it represents, the group is strikingly diverse. It’s liberal on economic issues, but hard line on marriage and other “values” questions. Mattera et al. are still learning how to do politics, and their press conference Monday kept the crowd out in the cold rain long enough that Tom Ognibene ended up under gay-rights leader Alan Van Capelle‘s umbrella. They also don’t yet know what to ask for, other than, you know, values.

But they’ll figure out the details, and then watch out.