The Atlantic

Evangelical Mega-donors Are Rethinking Money in Politics

In recent years, Christianity has become publicly associated with conservative political causes. Some wealthy Christians are pushing back.
Source: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

If the 2016 election was a reminder that white evangelical voters can determine who wins the White House, the past few years have also been a testament to the influence of Christian cash. Betsy DeVos, a juggernaut funder of religious and Republican causes in Michigan, is the U.S. secretary of education. Foster Friess, a conservative mega-donor in Wyoming, was an early backer of Donald Trump. And the Greens, the Hobby Lobby–crafts–chain owners who rank among the richest families in America, helped secure the Supreme Court’s consequential 2014 decision on religious freedom and birth control. They recently opened an elaborate museum dedicated to the Bible on the edge of the National Mall.

Donors such as these have helped solidify the identity of evangelicalism in the American popular imagination: a movement that’s solely about politics and the culture wars. But behind the scenes, a group of Christian elites is quietly working to create new ways for rich evangelicals to affect the world around them—and to foster a different public image for the church.

As these elites work to shape the world of Christian philanthropy, they are joining a great generational wrestling match over the way Christians should accumulate and use power. The outcome will help determine

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min read
The Best Athlete Americans Have Never Heard Of
American pro athletes face pressure to stick to sports. Australia’s David Pocock has a different idea.
The Atlantic3 min read
Alone In The Dark In The Bay Area
Earlier this week, Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents to mitigate the risk of fires. The city of Berkeley put out some vital information for those who might be affected: “If you are power-dependent for med
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
The NBA-China Disaster Is a Stress Test for Capitalism
On August 19, the definition of a company in America changed. The Business Roundtable, a U.S. lobbying group that represents nearly 200 companies, issued a statement proclaiming that the “purpose” of a business in 2019 was no longer to look out merel