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

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