Are White Evangelicals Declining or Not?

Evangelical Praise

This is about a month old, but I just came across Andrew R. Lewis and Ryan P. Burge‘s post challenging the findings of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) about the decline of white evangelicals in America.

Here is a taste:

Last week, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released “America’s Changing Religious Identity” a report based on an aggregation of surveys of 101,000 Americans conducted during 2016. The headlines, plastered across news outlets such as The AtlanticUSA Today, and The Religion News Service, were that religion was on the decline. An op-ed by PRRI’s CEO Robert P. Jones in USA Todaywas more blunt, targeting white evangelicals and describing them as a “dying patient,” “fading,” and at the “end-of-life” after finding that they had declined six percentage points (23%-17%) in a decade (2006-2016). There is just one big problem: other prominent, longitudinal surveys do not corroborate the decline among evangelicals.

The framing of the USA Today op-ed overly sensationalized and perhaps mischaracterized the drop in evangelicals. Certainly evangelicals’ cultural power has been changing, as one of us has thoroughly documented in a new book, but they are not on their deathbed. Then Tobin Grant of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale tweeted data from the General Social Survey (GSS) showing virtually no change in white born-again self-identifiers over the past decade. We decided to probe further.


Read more here.