DALLAS — A new generation of evangelicals, all in the 15-35 age bracket, are playing heavy metal music and pulling stunts on skateboards to spread the words of Jesus, aiming to reshape public policy along Christian lines and seeing a Christ-led government as the only answer to America's moral decay.
"In my reporting I saw an entire youth movement building," author Lauren Sandler told Reuters in an interview.
She said young Americans in the 15-35 age group are obsessed with Christ and often displays their devotion in youthful or unorthodox ways, playing heavy metal music or pulling stunts on skateboards.
"I kept seeing these quirky one-off stories like these crazy kids on skateboards and they were being treated as these oddball lifestyle stories."
In her new book, "Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement," she talks about a new generation of evangelicals that aims to reshape public policy along Christian lines.
Sandler introduces the readers to Christian rock festivals that draw crowds of 50,000.
They are like their sixties counterparts but without the drugs and their message is stridently conservative.
The book shows teenaged Christians who comprise the backbone of a nationwide movement of at least 300 "skateboard ministries" across the US.
Teams tour the US to preach the Bible at skateboard demonstrations -- an effective way to reach troubled teens who respect athletic prowess and showbiz dazzle.
"Members of the sixties New Left could never have dreamed they'd see their own cultural tactics achieving mass outreach on the Christian Right," Sandler writes in the book.
"Of course, this counterculture is not organized to perpetuate the politics of the sixties.
"Feminism, sexual freedom, secular liberalism: all these words are profanity" to the "Disciple Generation".
Bakker preaches to congregants perched "on folding chairs and bar stools, juggling cocktails, and cigarettes ... the new U2 album plays before the service."
Sandler went "on the road" with young evangelicals and dug into an exuberant subculture that is very different from the movement led by people like 73-year-old televangelist Jerry Falwell but one that shares its political goals.
Those include capturing most if not all levels of government in the United States, running America along Christian lines, outlawing abortion, banning same-sex marriage, bringing prayer to public schools and the Biblical story of Creation to biology class.
Among the new generation leaders is Wil Graham, grandson of the evangelist Billy Graham.
He told Sandler that he hopes to be president of the United States some day, because only a "Christ-led government" can reverse America's moral decay.
His presidential ambitions set him apart from his father Franklin and his grandfather Billy, who has famously ministered to many presidents but always kept a wall between his faith and his politics.
Sandler also explores the "generation gap" between father-and-son evangelist teams who often have the same agenda but depart in their methods.
Jay Bakker, the son of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker, preaches to congregants perched "on folding chairs and bar stools, juggling cocktails, and cigarettes ... the new U2 album plays before the service."
Ryan Dobson rides a motorcyle and is inked with tattoos -- to the chagrin of his father, James Dobson, the founder of the powerful conservative lobby group Focus on the Family.
"As far as my dad and I see it, we look different and talk different, but that's it," says the younger Dobson who is author of a book called "Be Intolerant."
Evangelical Christians, the fastest-growing faith-based group in the US, are having a growing impact on America's political landscape.
Wedded with Republicans to a set of beliefs and sharing common grounds on issues like the Iraq war and revolutionary theory, they played a pivotal role in tilting the scales in President George W. Bush's favor in the last presidential election.
Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright lashed out at incumbent Bush for invoking religion into his foreign policies.
Sandler believes the new disciple generation "will be an influence on every aspect of our politics down the road."
"Until secular America strengthens its own front lines by developing strong communities and a culture that uplifts, ... this (Christian) army will have no viable opponent. It aims to destroy everything that it is not," she writes.
"Maintain no illusion: they are wide awake. They are ready."