Evangelicalism in the United States
Evangelicalism in the United States is an umbrella group of Protestant Christians who believe in the necessity of being born again, emphasize the importance of evangelism, and affirm traditional Protestant teachings on the authority and the historicity of the Bible .
- The gravitational pull of white evangelicals has been less visible. But it could have far-reaching policy consequences. Vice President Mike Pence and Pompeo both cite evangelical theology as a powerful motivating force.
Just as he did in Cairo, Pompeo called on the congregation of a Kansan megachurch three years ago to join a fight of good against evil.
“We will continue to fight these battles,” the then congressman said at the Summit church in Wichita. “It is a never-ending struggle … until the rapture. Be part of it. Be in the fight.”
For Pompeo’s audience, the rapture invoked an apocalyptical Christian vision of the future, a final battle between good and evil, and the second coming of Jesus Christ, when the faithful will ascend to heaven and the rest will go to hell.
- Julian Borger, Brought to Jesus: the evangelical grip on the Trump administration, The Guardian, (11 Jan 2019)
- Evangelicalism is on a collision course with a culture that is rapidly liberalizing on two areas that define evangelical theology: their view of homosexuality and the role of women in the life of the church. Nearly 80% of Americans under the age of 35 support same-sex marriage, and just 8.8% believe that women should not be able to preach. That leaves the white evangelical church a choice. First, it could stand on doctrine and say that fidelity to orthodox evangelicalism is worth the price of potentially shrinking in size. There is integrity in this path. I’ve had many evangelicals tell me, “God does not care about public opinion polls.” As a social scientist who is also a pastor, I’m sympathetic to the view that God can change hearts.
Alternatively, evangelicalism could begin to slowly shift its stance on issues like women pastors and same-sex relations. There is some evidence that, on the issue of homosexuality, there has already been some softening. Work by Paul Djupe found that while 90% of evangelicals believed that their house of worship forbade homosexuality in 2007, that has dropped to 65% in 2020.
- Ryan Burge, On LGBT and women's equality, stark statistical reality is coming for white evangelicals, Religion News Service, (7 August 2020)
- Evangelicals, in religious terminology, believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity. They have a long history in America, and include a number of different groups, including Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists and nondenominational churches. After the schism among the Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians in the 1850s over slavery, conservative denominations like the Southern Baptists — who defended slavery through their readings of scripture — came into being. And because the primary schisms between northern and southern denominations was over the issues of slavery, in the pre- and post-Civil War years, African American Protestants formed their own denominations.
Evangelical denominations formed from these splits in the South were usually comprised of people who had made money from slavery or supported it. After the Civil War many were more likely to have supported the Ku Klux Klan and approved of (or participated in) lynching. The burning cross of the KKK, for instance, was a symbol of white Christian supremacy, designed both to put fear into the hearts of African Americans and to highlight the supposed Christian righteousness of the terrorist act.
During the civil rights movement, many white evangelicals either outright opposed Martin Luther King Jr. or, like Billy Graham, believed that racial harmony would only come about when the nation turned to God. in the 1970s, evangelicalism became synonymous with being "born again" and also against abortion and, with the rise of the Moral Majority in the late 1970s, they began to seek not only moral, but political power.
- Anthea Butler, "White evangelicals love Trump and aren't confused about why", NBC News (27 September 2019)
- After 9/11, many evangelicals vilified Islam and created cottage industries and ministries promoting Islamophobia. And when Barack Obama was elected president, they regrouped, bought guns and became Tea Partiers who promoted fiscal responsibility and indulged in birtherism, promoted by no less than the son of Billy Graham, Franklin.
Still, evangelicals have worked to make a good show of repenting for racism. From the racial reconciliation meetings of the 1990s to today, they have dutifully declared racism a sin, and Southern Baptists have apologized again for their role in American slavery — most recently in 2018 via a document outlining their role.
- Anthea Butler, "White evangelicals love Trump and aren't confused about why", NBC News (27 September 2019)
- The study of religion’s role as a political force in American politics presents an intriguing puzzle. Why are conservative Christians perceived as such a potent electoral force when their rates of political participation are often lower than what is observed in the general population? From the writings of both political scientists and pundits, one might be led to believe that white evangelical Protestants are a wildly participatory religious group. For example, the standard account of the recent history of how religion and politics intersect in the U.S. generally includes the assertion that evangelical Christians were awakened from political quiescence some time in the late 1970s (Dionne,1991; Wald, 2003; Wilcox, 1996) In the words of Guth and Green, ‘‘The common view is that clergy and lay activists in theologically conservative Protestant churches represent a large, hyperactive and newly mobilized cadre of traditionalists’’(1996, p. 118). However, while there has indisputably been a rise in the role religiously conservative groups play in contemporary politics, this has simply not been accompanied by an increase in the political participation of individual religious conservatives (Miller and Shanks, 1996, P. 231).
- David E. Campbell, “ACTS OF FAITH: Churches and Political Engagement”, Political Behavior, Vol. 26, No. 2, (June 2004); pp. 155-156.
- While there are many ways to distinguish among America’s myriad religious denominations, one that has been demonstrated to have particular utility is there cognition that there is a sharp divide among Protestants between those who belong to evangelical and mainline denominations. The key differences are described by Steensland et al. (2000):Mainline denominations have typically emphasized an accommodating stance toward modernity, a proactive view on issues of social and economic justice, and pluralism in their tolerance of varied individual beliefs. Evangelical denominations have typically sought to more separation from the broader culture, emphasized missionary activity and individual conversion, and taught strict adherence to particular religious doctrines.
- David E. Campbell, “ACTS OF FAITH: Churches and Political Engagement”, Political Behavior, Vol. 26, No. 2, (June 2004); p. 157.
- Mostly forgotten is the fact that, as recently as one hundred years ago, it was American Evangelical Protestants who waged the most aggressive and effective campaigns against the practice of birth control within the United States; Roman Catholics quietly applauded on the sidelines It was evangelicals who-starting in 1873-successfully built a web of federal and state laws that equated contraception with abortion, suppressed the spread of birth control information and devices, and even criminalized the use of contraceptives. And it was Evangelicals who attempted to jail early twentieth-century birth control crusaders such as Margaret Sanger. All the same, by 1973-the year the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the abortion laws of all fifty states-American Evangelical leaders had not only given a blessing to birth control; many would also welcome the court’s decision in ‘’Roe v Wade’’ as a blow for religious liberty. This book traces the transformation of American Evangelical leadership from fervent foes to quiet friends of the birth control cause. It examines, in particular, the shift in motives for this change over time: from a sweeping culture war against all forms of vice; to a desperate effort to salvage dreams of Protestant world empire; to swelling anti-Catholicism; to fear of “population explosion,” and surrender to a newly dominant culture.
- Allan Carlson, “Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control, 1873-1973”, Introduction: The Christians and Birth Control, Taylor and Francis Group, (Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon O14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA (2012), pp.1-2
- Since Jesus came to the earth the first time 2,000 years ago as a Jewish male, many evangelicals believe the Antichrist will, by necessity, be a Jewish male. This belief is 2,000 years old and has no anti-Semitic roots. This is simply historic and prophetic orthodox Christian doctrine that many theologians, Christian and non-Christian, have understood for two millennia.
- Jerry Falwell, Quoted in "Religion, Politics a Potent Mix for Jerry Falwell" by Steve Inskeep in Morning Edition on NPR (30 June 2006)
- Look closely. Those are evangelical leaders and pastors — people who represent America's various streams of fundamentalist Christianity — venerating a president who, I think it's safe to say, reflects none of the qualities Jesus is believed to have embodied.
It has become almost banal to recite Trump's ugly, vulgar, misogynist, racist mendacity, and yet here he is in an official White House photo, an image clearly meant to invoke the Last Supper, in the midst of an ecstatic laying on of hands.
It is no exaggeration to say many evangelicals consider Trump an anointed figure; a clearly venal man somehow chosen by their God to rescue America from venality. Eighty-one per cent of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016.
- There are only two reasonable explanations for this. Trump is the white evangelicals' version of V.I. Lenin's useful idiot, a character who is helping achieve their apocalyptic fever dreams, but who will perish along with the rest of us as the faithful perch in the clouds. Or the white evangelical version of Christianity is a darker, uglier thing than the smiles and the welcoming hugs and the blessings would have you believe.
When he proposes removing protections from transgender people, surely among the most vulnerable of us, they're A-OK.
When he invites children visiting the White House to help build his border wall with their own personalized bricks, his loyal white evangelicals are right there with him.
- He (Billy Graham) was not so much "America's pastor" as its greatest evangelical entrepreneur – the man who launched a whole separatist (and lucrative) Christian media culture, who laid the foundations for megachurches and prosperity ministries, who brought Jesus back into American politics. He was a public-relations savant, a shameless sycophant who whispered sweet nothings to power in lieu of hard truths. He demonstrated what fortunes could be made, and what human glory could be attained, by transforming evangelical Christianity into a patriotic corporate entity. If that's not American, by God, what is?
- Bob Moser, The Soul-Crushing Legacy of Billy Graham, in Rolling Stone, (23 February 2018)
- Many white Christian evangelicals in the United States have long believed that America has a God-given mission to save the world. Under the influence of this crusading mentality, US foreign policy has often swerved from diplomacy to war. It is in danger of doing so again.
- White evangelicals represent only around 17% of the US adult population, but comprise around 26% of voters. They vote overwhelmingly Republican (an estimated 81% in 2016), making them the party’s single most important voting bloc. That gives them powerful influence on Republican policy, and in particular on foreign policy when Republicans control the White House and Senate (with its treaty-ratifying powers). Fully 99% of Republican congressmen are Christian, of whom around 70% are Protestant, including a significant though unknown proportion of evangelicals.