Ashcroft's Appointment Marks Shift In Role of Pentecostals

February 7, 2001

Source: Star Tribune

On February 7, 2001, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article by Donald E. Miller, which said that "the Senate approval of John Ashcroft as attorney general signals an important shift in the religious demography of the United States. For years, the religion of choice for members of Congress and major presidential appointments was from the so-called Protestant mainstream denominations...But now we have a Pentecostal, a member of the Assemblies of God, holding one of the nation's most influential political posts...Pentecostals are the fastest-growing group of Christians in the world." Miller recently studied "rapidly growing churches in the developing world that had active social ministries within their communities. In soliciting recommendations of churches to study from a broad-ranging panel of experts, 85 percent of the congregations turned out to be Pentecostal or charismatic." All over the world, he wrote, "tongues-speaking, Bible-reading, prophecy-oriented Christians are involved in feeding and clothing the poor, ministering to people with AIDS, starting nursery schools in squatter camps and doing what they believe to be the ministry of Jesus...Somehow this does not jibe with our stereotypes about Pentecostals. According to the movies, they are supposed to be wrapped up in religious ecstasy, avoiding the pain of their low-class surroundings." He concludes by saying, "I do not mean to throw my support behind Ashcroft's views on gun control or abortion. However, it is important to realize that many Pentecostals, especially in the past five to 10 years, have awakened to their social responsibilities."