Twice a year, Cromartie brings together big names in journalism with big names in Christian thought. His Faith Angle Forums allow journalists to learn more about the faithful and hone their own thinking on a range of issues. The Arlington resident also directs the Evangelicals in Civic Life program for the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?
I am a Christian in the evangelical, reformed, Anglican tradition. What I most appreciate about that faith is simply knowing that the amazing grace of God is the greatest news in all the world, and that news ought to give one joy, peace and contentment about life.
Do you agree with William Schneider that "the press ... just doesn't get religion?" Is that changing?
He said that over 20 years ago. And 20 years ago at a conference, the late great political reporter for the Washington Post David Broder said: "The elephant in the newsroom that we're all ignoring today is religion and religious believers in America." By that he meant that America is a vastly religious country, and the mainstream press was ignoring this dynamic of American life. Now I think that is changing. I think newsrooms have realized if someone is a Mormon and runs for president, we need to know what a Mormon is. And post-9/11, with the rise of jihad terrorism, we need to know about the varieties of Islam. In other words, there's no news in the news today that's not somehow bumping into religion.
Do you think evangelicals are engaging the culture? Are they making their presence known?
They are, but the big challenge for American evangelicalism today is that it's been branded not for what it is -- which is a message of good news -- but as a political movement. And that branding is unfortunate because there are some things in life more important than politics. As I've often said, the dead are not raised by politics. Some of our new leaders in evangelicalism, like Tim Keller and Rick Warren, have moved away from making political pronouncements. And that's to the good.
Won't evangelicals feel called to speak up as gay marriage advocates win more battles?
With the abortion debate and gay marriage debate, evangelicals are still going to make pronouncements about how they think American life and culture ought to be ordered. It's just important for me to say that it's important for pastors to make clear distinctions about different spheres of life and which are more important.
What motivates you to care about the intersection of faith and politics?
We're commanded in Micah to love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with God. Those commands have real political implications. The command to love our neighbor has public implications. If you care for your neighbor, you care that they be treated justly -- that all the rules for everyone be fair. Therefore, the role of the state to bring justice and deter evil is really an important role. All Christian leaders everywhere ought to care about the shape of their society.
At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
The Westminster Confession of Faith sums it up very well when it says, "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."