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

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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:28 PM
Original message
Strength of US evangelicals is one of the big myths of our time
his from a right winger in the Sydney Morning Herald:

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.

<snip>

The standard story is that there are 54million adult and 21million child evangelicals.

There is some truth in this picture, but not nearly as much as has been claimed. First, the numbers. The figure of 25 per cent comes from people identifying themselves as evangelicals in opinion polls.

After many pages of searching and calculating, she concludes this number makes up just 7 per cent of Americans.

A big part of the myth has been that the number of evangelicals has been growing. In fact, the movement is in decline. That figure of 7 per cent is down from 12 per cent in 1991. Wicker tells stories of the failure of evangelicals to attract new members in recent times. Individual churches that have grown rapidly have often done so by attracting members from other churches.

In other words, while the media have been telling us that core evangelicalism has been booming, it has actually shrunk almost by half.

<snip>

In truth, Wicker points out, the fastest-growing belief category in America is not evangelicalism, but the group to which so many on the left belong: non-believers. From 1990 to 2001 in America, their numbers increased from 14 million to 29 million.

More: http://www.smh.com.au/news/michael-duffy/strength-of-us...
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Bob Dobbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. They are as strong as the corporofascist media tells us they are.
Edited on Sat Jul-19-08 12:37 PM by Bob Dobbs
And as strong as we think they are.
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AndyTiedye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. They Are The Repiggies' Excuse for the Red Shift in Our Elections
The real reason is election fraud.



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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 02:54 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Amen. The pundits were looking for a way to explain the 04 results
and other inexplicable results so they pounced on the evangelicals as being the source of the Repubs success.

But that's nonsense. Kerry won the election in 04 by about 3%, a good margin but not enough to prevent the voting machines from skewing the results in Bush's favor. After the fact, they were just flailing around looking for an explanation for what is basically inexplicable since it didn't happen.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:49 PM
Response to Original message
2. They were very strong in the 80s
when the Reagan coalition was formed. They stopped packing any sort of a wallop during the Clinton impeachment when all the sensible evangelicals started to realize the GOPs were grandstanding media hogs who had no intention of pushing their crackpot social agenda.

Having some of their leaders outed as frauds and others taxed also had an effect.

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tanyev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:50 PM
Response to Original message
3. So 7 % of Americans have a disproportionate effect on public policy.
I think we've just located Phil Gramm's nation of whiners.
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
4. trying to categorize religion in the simple terms is pointless.
Edited on Sat Jul-19-08 12:58 PM by madrchsod
religions rise and fall across the centuries. at one time Zoroastrianism was the dominate religion in the middle east....
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DailyGrind51 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
5. These "Televangelicals" are freaks and MSM loves a freak-show!
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Runcible Spoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 01:39 PM
Response to Original message
7. good. I'm sick of all fucking campaigning: "WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE FUNDIES!"
high time they get shoved in some obscure corner where nobody gives a shit about actually crafting policy according to their input. Kinda like progressives now :grr:
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. Note that in Australia, they've remained relegated to the fringe
because the nation (and the media) ridicules rather than enables and legitimizes them.

Quite unlike the situation in the states over the past 25 years where politicians and the corporate media have given equal ("fair & balanced") billing to their irrational policies and beliefs (which as the article notes- fundies rarely follow in their own personal lives).
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
9. The Miracle of the Religious Bigots was always a cover story
To account for how all those Democratic votes wound up in the Republican column.
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Yep. nt
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 05:38 PM
Response to Original message
12. "the group to which so many on the left belong: non-believers ... 29 million"????
compared to the right, the left is at least half the country, so that's over 150 million.

even if you breakout centrists, 29 million surely is well under 50% of the left even if ALL non-believer were leftists (obviously not the case).


now, it probably IS true to say it the other way around, that so many of non-believers are on the left. but saying so many on the left are non-believers is to perpetuate an underhanded stereotype that the right-wing wants you to believe, i.e., that we're all godless commies on the left.
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 05:44 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. ...As if, being a non-believer is something bad.
I'm a proud agnostic. There's nothing wrong with that.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. ah, but politicially, yes there is
Edited on Sat Jul-19-08 05:50 PM by unblock
there are many people in this country who have been brainwashed into thinking that even mere doubt about god's existence is a sure ticket to an eternity of fire and brimstone. if only to hadge their bets, and to avoid the risk of being branded a witch or social pariah, they believe, or at least, they pretend to believe.

personally, i'm an atheist, as in fact are most so-called believers, for the most part. they believe that the norse gods don't exist, they believe that the egyptians gods don't exist, they believe that the greek and roman gods don't exist, etc., of all the gods that humanity has ever described, there's only one god that we disagree on.

and, as george carlin pointed out, he's all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful, but he needs your money. somehow he's just not good with money.
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 06:09 PM
Response to Original message
15. This is just another of the GOP's favorite myths...
...they always inflate their numbers.

I've never believed there were more conservatives than liberals.


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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. it's always just been that the conservatives were better at raising money
and using it for political ends.

liberal churches have this tendency to squander their money on helping their community and other crazy things like that.
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-20-08 01:11 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. Good point.
Besides where it goes, there's no real way to know where the GOP get their money from.

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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-20-08 01:27 AM
Response to Original message
18. the dirty-thirty are L O U D..in-your-face, and they have a stranglehold
on radio ....and in some areas, the newspapers and tv as well.. They are the "fundies behind the curtain"..
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-20-08 09:13 AM
Response to Original message
19. I've often wondered that, just from my own experience.
Having grown up in the evangelical church, I saw constant changes in membership and Sunday attendance. My mom's last pastor, before she moved, kept trying to make the church into a megachurch and even talked the board into buying a chunk of land outside of town for the plans he and an archetect had drawn up, but he never had the actual numbers.

When Hubby and I started at Mount Vernon Nazarene, the student body was 60% Nazarene, but it was only 40% by the time I graduated, and much of that 60% that wasn't was a lot more liberal than when we started there. There were more fundies, sure, but there were more there just to get a degree who weren't evangelical.

Megachurches have an incentive to lie about their numbers and no accountability to make sure they don't keep counting people who don't go there anymore. Most evangelical churches are, in actuality, quite small with fewer than 100 on any given Sunday. While I disagree with the 7% figure (at least where I live), I do think they're more of a minority than the media portrays.
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