The election of Donald Trump and ongoing demographic research about religions and faiths in America have put evangelical Christians under the microscope in the winter of 2017-2018. Each day seems to bring more data and opinions about evangelicals and their future.
Here's an example:
"After dominating much of American politics for the past 40 years, white evangelical Protestants are now facing a sharp decline. Nearly one-third of white Americans raised in evangelical Christian households leave their childhood faith. About 60 percent of those who leave end up joining another faith tradition, while 40 percent give up on religion altogether. The rates of disaffiliation are even higher among young adults: 39 percent of those raised evangelical Christian no longer identify as such in adulthood. And while there is always a good deal of churn in the religious marketplace — people both entering and leaving faith traditions — recent findings suggest that membership losses among white evangelical Protestants are not being offset by gains.
"As a result, the white evangelical Protestant population in the U.S. has fallen over the past decade, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2016. But equally troubling for those concerned about the vitality of evangelical Christianity, white evangelical Protestants are aging. Today, 62 percent of white evangelical Protestants are at least 50 years old. In 1987, fewer than half (46 percent) were. The median age of white evangelical Protestants today is 55."
Now, that's a lot to digest from FiveThirtyEight.com. (You can get the full report here.) That website's essay ("Are white evangelicals sacrificing the future in search of the past?") dives deep into history, theology, politics and the future of evangelicals in America. It proves nothing, of course, since none of us have crystal balls.
Still, it's fascinating fodder for people of faith and those who keep up with today's divisive version of American politics.
"For young white evangelical Christians, (an) unyielding stance (about homosexuality) can be a source of considerable tension. If you are under the age of 30, it is increasingly difficult not to know someone who is gay or lesbian. Young white evangelicals are caught between their peers, who are predisposed to embrace cultural pluralism and express tolerance for different personal behaviors, and an evangelical tradition that staunchly resists changes in social, cultural and religious norms."
-- Phillip Tutor