Check out Daniel Cox’s piece at Five Thirty Eight: “Are White Evangelicals Sacrificing The Future In Search of the Past.” Here is a taste:
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.2 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.
Back in July 2017 I offered-up my “Pickett’s Charge” theory of evangelical support for Donald Trump. Here is a taste:
…the pro-Trump evangelical movement may represent a kind of last-ditch effort by the Moral Majority generation to reclaim the country in the way that they were trained to do by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others back in the 1980s.
Military history teaches us that final assaults are often carried out on a grand scale. Think about Pickett’s Charge–the final engagement of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Confederate Army attempted to make one last thrust into the Union line before it was turned back once and for all. Many historians have argued that the loss at Gettysburg sent the Confederate army on a downward spiral that eventually led to its defeat at Appomattox in April 1865.
The Trump evangelicals have found a strongman to lead them. With control of the White House they are poised, at least for the moment, to initiate a final forward movement for the purpose of preserving their “way of life” against the social and cultural changes that they have been fighting against for a couple of generations.
It seems like Cox’s stats on generational shifts among American evangelicals, and American culture more broadly, might support my thesis.