New Research: The Decline of White Evangelicals & Its Political Implications
The number of white evangelical Christians in the United States is declining rapidly as older members die off with few younger Americans joining the church to replace them. That's going to have important political ramifications over the next decade.
The Public Religion Research Institute [PRRI] regularly publishes the most thorough research of religious trends in America and this week they released their Census of American Religion. Their study found that the steady decline in overall religiosity has flattened out a bit with about one quarter of Americans saying they have no religious affiliation, up from 16% in 2007.
This religious decline has also showed up in data concerning church attendance. A recent Gallup poll found that only 47% of Americans belong to a house of worship, the first time that number has fallen below half of the country since they started polling on the question.
The PRRI study also noted the large differences in religiosity among age groups in the United States. Among individuals aged 50-64, 18% are "nones," having no religious affiliation, but among those 18-29 the number doubles to 36%.
PRRI: "The increase in proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans has occurred across all age groups but has been most pronounced among young Americans. In 1986, only 10% of those ages 18–29 identified as religiously unaffiliated. In 2016, that number had increased to 38%, and declined slightly in 2020, to 36%."
The one aspect of PRRI's research with substantial political ramifications for US politics concerns the rapid decline in the number of white evangelical Christians. This group is the backbone of the Republican Party, George W Bush's "Value Voters," and Donald Trump's most loyal followers. They make up about a third of all Republican voters. They also tend to be the Americans most influenced by the GOP's focus on culture war issues, opposing LGBT rights, abortion, and immigration.
PRRI found that the number of white evangelicals in the United States dropped from 23% of the population in 2006 to just 14.5% today. It's a dramatic fall. Perhaps more importantly for the future of the Church, white evangelical Protestants are the oldest religious group in the U.S., with a median age of 56, compared to the median age in the country of 47. That's because few young people are joining. Only 7% of those aged 18-29 identify as white evangelicals. Younger Americans have little interest in the cultural issues that seem to be so important to their parents and grandparents.
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By: Don Lam & Curated Content