White Chris­tian pop­u­la­tion shrinks to 43 per­cent

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

Pro­gres­sives say a poll show­ing white Chris­tians in the mi­nor­ity is ev­i­dence that Pres­i­dent Trump’s voter base is dwin­dling, but veter­ans of the re­li­gious right say ru­mors of the move­ment’s demise are greatly ex­ag­ger­ated.

The Pub­lic Re­li­gion Re­search In­sti­tute sur­vey re­leased Wed­nes­day found that 43 per­cent of Amer­i­cans iden­tify as white and Chris­tian, down from 81 per­cent as re­cently as 1976.

Robert P. Jones, CEO of the re­search in­sti­tute and au­thor of “The End of White Chris­tian Amer­ica,” said the data sug­gest that Mr. Trump’s “un­likely vic­tory is bet­ter un­der­stood as the death rat­tle of White Chris­tian Amer­ica” rather than its re­sus­ci­ta­tion.

“Twenty years from now, there is lit­tle chance that 2016 will be cel­e­brated as the re­vival of White Chris­tian Amer­ica, no mat­ter how many Chris­tian right lead­ers are in­stalled in po­si­tions of power over the next four years,” Mr. Jones wrote in an ar­ti­cle in The At­lantic a few days be­fore the sur­vey was pub­lished. “Rather, this elec­tion will most likely be re­mem­bered as the one in which white evan­gel­i­cals traded away their in­tegrity and in­flu­ence in a gam­bit to res­ur­rect their past.”

The down­ward trend af­fected the white pop­u­la­tion of each of the ma­jor Chris­tian de­nom­i­na­tions, in­clud­ing evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tants, whose over­all share of the pop­u­la­tion dropped from 16 per­cent to 11 per­cent since 2006. White main­line Protes­tants fell from 18 per­cent to 13 per­cent over that same span, and white Catholics from 16 per­cent to 11 per­cent.

Rea­sons for the de­cline in­clude im­mi­gra­tion, an ag­ing white Chris­tian pop­u­la­tion and in­creases in the num­ber of Amer­i­cans who iden­tify as re­li­giously un­af­fil­i­ated.

Amer­ica’s in­creas­ing di­ver­sity is cap­tured in the eth­nic trans­for­ma­tion of the Catholic Church. Twenty-five years ago, nearly nine out of 10 Catholics were white. To­day, Catholics younger than 30 are more likely to be His­panic (52 per­cent) than white (36 per­cent).

Athe­ists and ag­nos­tics con­tinue to com­prise a larger share of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion. More than one-quar­ter (27 per­cent) of Amer­i­cans to­day iden­tify as re­li­giously un­af­fil­i­ated.

The re­li­giously un­af­fil­i­ated are a plu­ral­ity in 20 states, in­clud­ing Ver­mont (41 per­cent), Ore­gon (36 per­cent), Wash­ing­ton (35 per­cent), Hawaii (34 per­cent), Colorado (33 per­cent) and New Hamp­shire (33 per­cent).

The sur­vey also shows that the num­ber of white Chris­tians in the Demo­cratic Party has de­clined dra­mat­i­cally. The de­mo­graphic makes up just 29 per­cent of the party’s base, com­pared with 50 per­cent one decade ago.

Roughly three-quar­ters of Repub­li­cans still iden­tify as white and Chris­tian.

Tony Perkins, pres­i­dent of the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil, said pro­gres­sives pre­dict the end of the re­li­gious right like clock­work, es­pe­cially when they lose a ma­jor na­tional elec­tion.

“The whole point here is to try to sug­gest that the in­flu­ence that evan­gel­i­cals have in this elec­tion is — take a snap­shot, take a good picture of it, be­cause you’re not go­ing to see it again,” Mr. Perkins said Wed­nes­day on Fox News Ra­dio’s “Todd Starnes Show.” “Look, this is a phe­nom­e­non that oc­curs every elec­tion cy­cle.”

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