This is the question Brad Wright asks and probes in the 4th chap of his excellent new book, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media
Many people say these things. A WaPo writer, Michael Weisskopf, says “Evangelicals are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”
If you had to connect one word to the word “Evangelical” what word would it be? (Is it accurate?)
So Wright asks who is in the church and how did they get there.
About 46-48% of church attenders are male; but among Black Prots the number is only 40%. But women participate in the Church and have a more intense faith than males. Muslims and Hindus are more male-represented.
Why? David Murrow famously argued Christianity appeals to women more and it is a feminized religion. But Rodney Stark contended that Christianity became a world religion because it valued women more than its surrounding culture.
Billy Graham is the one who observed, in 1950s, that the 11am hour is the most segregated hour of the week.
1. 66% of American churches (large ones) are 80% White.
2. 1 in 8 is 80% Black.
3. 50% of churches do not have an Asian; 33% have no Hispanics.
4. These numbers of racial segregation are improving.
People gravitate to those who are like them; they prefer people who have their preferences; what makes the American church segregated is also what makes it strong.
To use the image of another: the church in America is like a mall — most stores are specialized while there are a few general department stores.
Education is a good measure here. Here are the percents of college grads: Americans (27), Evangelicals (20), Mainline (33), Black Prots (16), Catholic (26), Orthodox (46), Jewish (58), Muslim (23), Buddhist (48), Hindu (73), Unaffiliated (29).
Education tends to make evangelicals more certain of their faith. Thus, Wright encourages Christian parents to send their children to college. There’s a higher chance they will retain their faith.
More evangelicals in the Midwest and South, with fewest in East and West, but these numbers are now shifting in a “regression toward the mean.”