Many evangelicals in the United States are populists with a nationalist streak – a fact on clear display in the 2016 election. Yet many evangelicals are also “new internationalists” with deep concerns over religious persecution across the world, humanitarian aid in developing countries, immigration as a form of hospitality, and global health. How can these starkly different characteristics describe the same group?

This three-year project brings together an impressive group of scholars to explore this apparent tension. Despite a great deal of recent scholarly and popular discussion about evangelicalism, we know surprisingly little about how populism and internationalism co-exist within the tradition. Too often this lack of nuanced and fine-grained understanding generates simplistic paradigms and misleading characterizations. We hope to clarify and deepen assumptions about evangelical international engagement at this particularly important moment of normative debate over the political role of evangelicals – a debate that often focuses on domestic policy and politics and neglects the complexity of faith in international affairs.

The Institute for Global Engagement’s Review of Faith and International Affairs committed an entire edition to this project in late 2019. In the spring of 2019, the Center for Public Justice’s Public Justice Review included numerous articles reporting on the findings of the project and two panels presenting the researchers' work were presented at the biennial Henry Institute Symposium on Religion and Public Life. 

The Henry Symposium on Religion and Public Life

The Symposium, an international conference held on April 25-27, 2019, featured two panels by the research partners, presenting their work as part of the 3-day event including presentations by political scientists, sociologists, and historians. 

Evangelicals: Populists or Internationalists? Session I

“A Just and Durable Peace: American Evangelicals and the Quest for Peace after WWII
     Robert J. Joustra, Redeemer University College

 “Populist Internationalism: Religious Freedom and the Politics of Persecution”
     Melani McAlister, George Washington University

“The Global – and Globalist – Roots of Evangelical Action”
     Paul S. Rowe, Trinity Western University

Evangelicals: Populists or Internationalists? Session II

“Missions Has Come Home: How Evangelicals' Refugee Work Complicates the Populism-Internationalism Binary"
     Melissa Borja, University of Michigan

"Are Evangelicals Populists? The View from the 2016 American National Election Study"
     James Guth, Furman University

"Populism, Evangelicalism, and the Polarized Politics of Immigration"
     Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, Gordon College
     Lyman Kellstedt, Wheaton College

“ ‘Rescue Sells:’ Narrating Human Trafficking to Evangelical Populists”
     David Swartz, Asbury University

Public Justice Review

Public Justice Review is the journal of the Center for Public Justice, an independent, nonpartisan, Christian think-tank devoted to policy research and civic education. Volume 9, Issue 2 (2019) of Public Justice Review was devoted entirely to the project theme. The issue was titled “Populists or Internationalists? Globalization and Evangelical Tribes” and contained the following six essays:

 Evangelical Populists and Their Discontents

Kevin R. den Dulk (Calvin University)

 Evangelical Tribes? Group Instinct and the Fate of American Christianity

Robert J. Joustra (Redeemer University College)

Can We Be Better (Christian) Humanitarians?

Jessica Robertson Wright (Center for Public Justice)

Tending the Garden of the Real

Marc LiVecche (McDonald Scholar, Oxford Univerwity

Evangelical Internationalism in Comparative Perspective: Discerning a Global Social Ethic

Paul S. Rowe (Trinity Western University)

Evangelicals' Responses to the Immigration Debate

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover (Gordon College)

 The Review of Faith & International Affairs

The Review of Faith & International Affairs is published quarterly by Routledge (Taylor & Francis). Evangelicals: Populists or Internationalists?” comprised all of Volume 17, Number 3 (Fall 2019) as a theme issue devoted entirely to the project and included revised versions of papers originally presented at the April 2019 Henry Symposium on Religion and Public Life, along with one separately commissioned article by Jessica Joustra (professor of Reformed Ethics at Redeemer University College).

Populism and Internationalism, Evangelical Style: An Introduction to the Fall 2019 Issue

Dennis R. Hoover (Editor, The Review of Faith & International Affairs)

What is an Evangelical? Examining the Politics, History, and Theology of a Contested Label

Jessica Joustra (Redeemer University College)

Are White Evangelicals Populists? The View from the 2016 American National Election Study

James L. Guth (Furman University)

 The Global—and Globalist—Roots of Evangelical Action

Paul S. Rowe (Trinity Western University)

Populism, Evangelicalism, and the Polarized Politics of Immigration

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover (Gordon College) and Lyman A. Kellstedt (Wheaton College)

A Just and Durable Peace? American Evangelicals and the Quest for Peace after WWII

Robert J. Joustra (Redeemer University College)

Internationalism with Evangelical Characteristics: The Case of Evangelical Responses to Southeast Asian Refugees

Melissa Borja and Jacob Gibson (University of Michigan)

'Rescue Sells’: Narrating Human Trafficking to Evangelical Populists

David R. Swartz (Asbury University)

Evangelical Populist Internationalism and the Politics of Persecution

Melani McAlister (George Washington University)

 

Research Partners

Project Leaders

  • Kevin den Dulk, Henry Institute Director, Calvin University Political Science Department
  • Rob Joustra, Redeemer University College Politics and International Studies Department
  • Dennis Hoover, Institute for Global Engagement

Contributors

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