(AP) — “While attendance at traditional churches has been declining for decades,” Tom Brokaw says, “the evangelical movement is growing, and it is changing the way America worships.”
Consider New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., which marks the Easter holiday with a full-scale staging of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — with a cast and crew of 750 mostly coming from the church’s membership of 11,000.
The phenomenon of such an evangelical “mega-church” is part of Brokaw’s focus on “In God They Trust,” a one-hour NBC News special airing 8 p.m. EDT Friday.
Brokaw notes that evangelical Christians have become a powerful force in American culture, politics and the economy, and that, propelled by their faith, they’re determined to spread the word.
But he also explores why so many Americans are turning to this expression of faith, and whether some evangelicals are going too far: imposing on others their spiritual beliefs not only for personal reasons but also for political reasons.
Brokaw talks with families at New Life as well as cadets at the nearby U.S. Air Force Academy. And he interviews Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (which represents 45,000 churches) and New Life’s pastor.
Haggard “believes that America is entering a new period of religious intensity that will alter both souls and society,” reports Brokaw.
Attempting to explain the growth of the evangelical moment, Haggard says, “It’s not political — it’s authentically spiritual renewal.”
But Haggard, who speaks regularly with the White House, also declares that, although Americans live in a pluralistic society, “all of us have a responsibility to advance God’s will through government.”