How American Politics Complicates Evangelicalism in the UK


Facing Brexit fallout and another COVID lockdown, the head of the country’s Evangelical Alliance is eager to shift attention away from Trump and back to their mission.

For the past four years, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Evangelical Alliance faced several major national challenges: Brexit divides, religious liberty concerns, dramatic demographic shifts, a pandemic, and political baggage that made its way across the pond.

Since white American evangelicals became known as some of former US President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters, Gavin Calver saw media in his own country conflate them with the Christians his organization represents. Calver had to work even harder to educate others about the broad array of evangelicals in the UK, who don’t fully align with any single party or politician.

“I can find myself tweeting about a food bank serving in Bradford, only for someone on the other side of the world to lambast me for being a Trump supporter,” Calver wrote in a reflection that ran on Inauguration Day in The Times of London. “How did it come to this? How has the word evangelical been so politicised?”

The end of Trump’s presidency last month means Calver’s job can again focus on the mission of evangelicals in the UK—currently under its third coronavirus lockdown—without having to untangle their message from American political associations.

“I can’t pretend it’s not easier now to say ‘I’m Gavin, I’m an evangelical Christian,’ and for that to not immediately link me to politics of a nation I’ve never lived in, I’ve never voted in, and I have no plans to move to,” the Evangelical Alliance CEO said in a recent interview with Christianity Today. “People were desperate to get back to an evangelicalism that is liberated from bondage to other things, and actually …

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