Strength of US evangelicals is one of the big myths of our time

This rather wonderful week in Sydney reminds us of just how big the Catholic Church is. It’s a useful reminder, because those of us not in the church rarely hear about its size. The biggest media story about numbers of Christians over the past decade has actually been about the various evangelical churches, their booming numbers and their political influence. We have been told often that a quarter of all Americans are evangelicals, and that the support of this enormous number of ultra conservatives has kept George Bush in office.

A book recently published in America casts doubt on both claims, particularly the first, suggesting that they comprise one of the big myths of our time. It’s a myth that has flourished because it suits the interests of both evangelical leaders and those on the political left who have been so worried about evangelicalism.

Christine Wicker is a former religious reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She was “saved” at the age of nine in an Oklahoma City Southern Baptist Church, and these days she’s a Christian, but not an evangelical. In The Fall Of The Evangelical Nation (HarperOne), she set out to count America’s evangelicals. What she found surprised even her.

It didn’t surprise me; I’ve thought for a while that we were getting it all from a big publicity machine. Apparently, it suits the right and the left to inflate evangelical (in the US sense) figures. Read the rest here.

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