Church and State - January 2019
We know now that the core of Trump’s voter base is the white evangelical demographic, and we know the issues with it: the main underlying drive of fear, the us-vs.-them mentality, the easy brainwashing due to being conditioned from childhood to mindlessly obey authority and believe lies, the anti-intellectualism, the false worldview generated from the pulpit and from the right-wing noise machine, the sexism, racism and many other bigotries, the authoritarianism, the “prosperity gospel” worship of wealth and the wealthy, the opposition to equality, freedom and democracy. They’re even talking about Trump being a God-sent king, so perhaps we have to add embrace of criminality, treason and sexual predation.
But it appears the numbers of white evangelicals are dwindling enough that they might become irrelevant as a political force as soon as 2024, and direct opposition to their toxic worldview is being led by an increasingly strong and vocal movement of their own disaffected youth: the Exvangelicals.
The numbers are stark: Twenty years ago, just 46 percent of white evangelical Protestants were older than 50; now, 62 percent are above 50. The median age of white evangelicals is 55. Only 10 percent of Americans under 30 identify as white evangelicals. The exodus of youth is so swift that demographers now predict that evangelicals will likely cease being a major political force in presidential elections by 2024.
One of these demographers is Robert Jones, who heads up the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and published a book in 2017 entitled The End of White Christian America. Jones, Burleigh writes,
…has tracked what he calls a “stair-steps downward trajectory of white Christian presence in the electorate.” In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected, 73 percent of the electorate was white and Christian. By 2012, that number was 53 percent. “If current trends hold steady, 2024 will be a watershed year—the first American election in which white Christian voters do not constitute a majority of voters.”
See the Dem side of the new House of Representatives? That’s the long-term future of American politics.
While the older cohort of the Christian Right is aging and dying out, the younger is abandoning it due to being fed up with hypocrisy and bigotry. Burleigh, as well as providing an overview of Christian Right history, presents the stories of three young men who are now leaders in the Exvangelical movement: Blake Chastain, whose podcast “Exvangelical” gave the movement its name, felt his church’s support of the Iraq War conflicted with biblical teachings. Jason Desautels left his after his preacher mis-blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Muslims and didn’t apologize when the truth came out. Alex Camire left his church after his mother was demonized by his pastor for her alcoholism and his horizons were broadened by a secular education; his pastor’s endorsement of Trump sealed the deal, exemplifying Burleigh’s point that the Trump phenomenon, while it did not start the Exvangelical exodus, certainly hastened it. ...
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