On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center released the results of a study indicating that the percentage of white adults identifying as Evangelical or born-again grew between 2016 and 2020, and that growth was concentrated amongst Trump supporters.
But setting aside the instances of individual conversions, what seems to be happening at scale isn’t so much the growth of white Evangelicalism as a religious movement, but rather the near-culmination of the decades-long transformation of white Evangelicalism from a mainly religious movement into a Republican political cause.
Why do I say the transformation is political and not religious? A key metric here is church attendance. An increasing number of self-described Evangelicals go to church rarely or not at all. The numbers are remarkable. Here is Ryan Burge with the data:
Stuart Rothenberg spotted this trend years ago:
Even more evidence here that "evangelical" is not a religious term anymore.— Ryan Burge 📊 (@ryanburge) April 8, 2021
Among self-identified evangelicals in 2008:
16.1% reported never or seldom attending.
58.6% reported weekly or more attendance.
26.7% never or seldom (+10 pts)
49.9% weekly or more (-11 pts) pic.twitter.com/xukBAX77ue
Why Evangelicals Stick with Donald Trump and Roy Moore: In most cases, white evangelicals get their religion from their politics, not their politics from their religion (@StuPolitics) https://t.co/VebKcL16GP— Opinion Today (@OpinionToday) November 28, 2017