Evangelicals See an Evolution of Their Own

The evangelical movement has long been considered a powerful political entity. An estimated 65 million Americans consider themselves conservative Christians. Their anti-gay, anti-abortion views are well known as is their support for mostly Republican political candidates.

But times are changing.

Now there are evangelicals speaking out on global warming and supporting adoption. Neither would have been endorsed only a few years ago.

"There's a great deal of foment in the evangelical community right now," John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life told ABCNews.Com.

"I do think there is a change afoot," said Randall Balmer, an evangelical Christian and professor of religion at Barnard College. "Finally, evangelical voices other than those on the hard right are beginning to make themselves heard."

The implications for the Republican party are not necessarily good.

"I think the Republicans can no longer count on evangelical votes falling into their laps," said Balmer. "There's going to be a die-hard core that will stick with it but on the whole, there will be some shifting on the issues."

Tackling Children Without Families

The latest example is adoption. Prominent evangelical Christians are telling their followers to strongly consider adoption or foster care. But they deny suggestions they are doing so to answer criticism that their movement hasn't done enough for children without families.

"Absolutely not. We're not doing this to respond to criticism. This is all about the children," Mark Andre, Director of The Orphan Care Initiative at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado told ABCNEWS.com. "God wants us to care for the orphan, the widow, the prisoner, the sick and ailing and the stranger."

More than 500,000 children were in foster care in the United States as of 2005. About 115,000 are waiting to be adopted. Andre and his wife have adopted three chidren.

"They are the delight of my heart and my wife's heart too," he said. "There are kids who need homes, kids who need care. That's what this is all about."

Christopher Padbury, executive director of Project 1.27, a faith-based adoption project partnering with the State of Colorado, has also led by example and adopted five children. "If we are spending all our time complaining about homosexuals, then why are we not coming forward to adopt these kids" he told The Associated Press.

Padbury's group takes its name from a James 1:27 passage to "look after orphans and widows in their distress."

Andre concedes that it's a new issue for evangelicals. "Times are changing, it's time to roll up our sleeves and get involved, each one who sits in the pew needs to get involved," he said.

In addition to adoption and foster care, organizers are also suggesting the faithful provide support networks for foster families and sponsor orphanages.

There is also a generational divide in the evangelical community and that too could be problematic for Republicans.

"Younger evangelicals are looking for something different. They are not embracing their parents view," Rod Dreher, a conservative columnist for the Dallas Morning News told ABCNews.com. "They are looking for fresh thinking on where can we go as conservatives."

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