Evangelical Christians are getting primetime exposure with a new special from former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw.
“Tom Brokaw Reports: In God They Trust,” which airs on NBC Friday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. ET, examines the role of evangelical Christians in American culture and politics.
Brokaw focuses mainly on Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., and president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Woven throughout the hour-long documentary are stories of people attending the 11,000-member New Life Church. Stories include a cadet from the nearby Air Force Academy, a devout family invested in the church, and a couple in which the wife attends faithfully but the husband is skeptical of the mega-church and what it represents.
There are roughly 70 million evangelicals in the United States, according to the program.
“Evangelicals have created their own highly profitable pop universe including Christian rock, video games and books,” says Brokaw, mentioning Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life specifically.
Haggard, now 49, tells Brokaw that evangelicalism is “not political. It is authentically a spiritual renewal.”
“It’s a spiritual renewal that’s taking place and leading to the growth of churches that has political ramifications.” When Brokaw presses for details about the ramifications, Haggard fingers valuing life and having a higher moral standard.
Brokaw touches on the ministries of popular personalities like T.D. Jakes and Rick Warren, and he also interviews others, like Ohio televangelist Rod Parsley, Sojourners head Jim Wallis and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Brokaw devotes one segment to the Air Force Academy, which has recently come under fire for at least the perception of being intolerant of any religion other than evangelical Christianity.
The special also references Justice Sunday in its examination of religious conservatives and politics.
Haggard, who participated in the event, tells Brokaw: “I’m not a power broker. I don’t call presidents. I don’t harangue the White House.”
“You don’t have to,” responds Brokaw. “He calls you.”
Previous editions of “Tom Brokaw Reports” have examined Bob Woodward’s Watergate source and the war on terror.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.