The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern

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The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern is a document drafted in 1973 by several evangelical faith leaders, and signed by 53 signatories. Concerned with what they saw as a diversion between Christian faith and a commitment to social justice, the Chicago Declaration was written as a call to reject racism, economic materialism, economic inequality, militarism, and gender roles.[1] Under the leadership of Ron Sider, The Chicago Declaration became the founding document for Evangelicals for Social Action, a think-tank which seeks to develop biblical solutions to social and economic problems through incubating programs that operate at the intersection of faith and social justice.


At the first Calvin College conference on politics that Paul B. Henry organized in the spring of 1973, several organizers, including David Moberg, Rufus Jones, and Paul Henry, decided to call a weekend workshop over Thanksgiving, 1973.[2] The committee invited a broad range of evangelical leaders to come and talk about the need for strengthening evangelical social concern. Nearly forty individuals attended: older evangelicals like Carl F. H. Henry, Frank Gaebelein; younger evangelicals like Jim Wallis, John Perkins, Sharon Gallagher, Rich Mouw, and Ron Sider. Perhaps fittingly, they held their meeting at the YMCA on Wabash Avenue in Chicago.[3]

The assembled individuals wrote and signed The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern, confessing the failure of evangelical Christianity to confront injustice, racism, and discrimination against women, and pledging to do better.

The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern became the founding document for Evangelicals for Social Action, which was founded in 1974.

Dick Ostling of Time magazine wrote that it was probably the first time in the 20th century that forty evangelical leaders spent a whole weekend discussing social action. Writing for the Chicago Sun Times, Roy Larson declared that someday, church historians would write that “the most significant church-related event of 1973" at this gathering.[4]

As Christianity Today magazine noted on the 30th anniversary of the declaration, the conference's stated purpose wouldn't register as surprising today, when evangelicals from all different political stripes agree that at least some form of social justice is a central tenant of the Christian faith. But "...Thirty years ago, only a frustrated minority—like those at the Chicago meeting—thought so...Three decades ago, a lot of evangelicals would have called this political meddling, if not selling out the gospel.[5]"



  1. ^ Swartz, David (2013). Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 7. ISBN 0812223063.
  2. ^ Heyer, Marjorie (30 November 1973). "Evangelicals: Tackling the Gut Issues". Christian Century.
  3. ^ Gasaway, Brantley (2014). Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice. North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press. p. 23. ISBN 1469617722.
  4. ^ Larson, Roy (1 December 1973). "Historic Workshop: Evangelicals Do U-turn, Take on Social Problems". Chicago Sun-Times.
  5. ^ Carpenter, Joel (1 December 2003). "Compassionate Evangelicalism". Christianity Today. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  6. ^ Sider, Ronald (1974). The Chicago Declaration. Carol Stream, Illinois: Creation House. p. 3. ISBN 0-88419-048-X.

External links[edit]

  • Full text from Evangelicals For Social Action
  • Full text from The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia