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Apparently There May Be More Evangelicals Than We Think...


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Dougherty, Kevin D., Johson, Byron R., and Edward C. Polson. 2007. "Recovering the Lost: Remeasuring U.S. Religious Affiliation." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46:483-499.

 

I just got done browsing through the above, and what did it say at the end? Well, let me put it into my own words for you. Basically, so many evangelicals take that "it's a relationship, not a religion" shit so seriously that they claim no religious affiliation when pollsters call them up. So for a few years, they were getting a lot of people who had "no religion" but who were "religious." They tweaked it a bit and started asking things about congregations and whatnot. The nature of one's congregation seems to be more salient than particular denomination; usually, if someone says something like "Baptist" or "Assemblies of God" you can infer a lot about them. But nowadays people will neglect to mention denomination or even that they are "religious." They're just now figuring out and getting around this previously puzzling discrepancy.

 

It took a while for pollsters to catch on. So we're only just now starting to figure out how many evangelical/fundies are actually out there. Also, the latest data about American (lack of) religion that everyone was getting into a tizzy about recently does not tell us that evangelicals are disappearing. It's telling us that the middle (moderates, liberals, mainline churches) is disappearing. The irreligious are growing but the evangelicals/fundies are either standing fast or growing. So what we're seeing is not secularization but polarization, and without the soft middle to mediate between the two poles. Which means that shit is liable to get worse, even though the Christian Right is on the ropes at the moment. I predict that the Rick Warren types are going to be Pat n' Jerry 2.0. Same exact turd, but in a kinder, gentler, and hipper package.

 

Shit!

 

It kind of pisses me off. We need to know how many of them there are and where they are so that we can keep tabs on them. "Relationship" my fucking ass, it's a goddamn religion and that's that!

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Well, this no real surprise. How many of these types wash up here? Seems like all of them. The "I totally agree you ex-c's. I'm a xian athiest. Church is fucking lame. There was no Jesus. But there was a Yeshua that did all the exact same shit as Jesus and I want to teach you all how to lick his sweaty balls. Altogether now..."

 

mwc

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My father and his wife were as religiously whacked out as they come, but the last few years they didn't go regularly to a church. Instead they had "cells" which, if you're unfamiliar with that movement, is basically a moveable Bible study and praise gathering. Each week they would meet at another person's house. On a survey, I'm sure they wouldn't have claimed affiliation with a church.

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My father and his wife were as religiously whacked out as they come, but the last few years they didn't go regularly to a church. Instead they had "cells" which, if you're unfamiliar with that movement, is basically a moveable Bible study and praise gathering. Each week they would meet at another person's house. On a survey, I'm sure they wouldn't have claimed affiliation with a church.

 

That's something I forgot to mention! The above is another major factor contributing to the undercount. Cells, home churches, and shit like that. So people who do that would respond to a survey exactly like your grandfather + wife would have.

 

To get around this shit, you have to be trickier with your questions:

 

1. Ask them about their "congregation" or "fellowship of believers" rather than whether or not they go to (a) "church."

 

2. Ask them straight up whether or not they are "Christian." You can still ask about denomination, but be prepared for them to remain mum about it. Ordinarily, you could infer a lot if they tell you their denomination (e.g. Ass of God or Southern Craptist as opposed to Episscopalian). That's starting to become irrelevant for a sizable bloc of evangelicals/fundies.

 

3. If they indicate that they are a Christian, ask them a series of questions designed to determine whether or not they are an evangelical/fundie/born again.

 

That's how you gotta identify them now.

 

Anyways, the authors mentioned that in an average American town, around 50% of churches there will be evangelical. Scholars seem to be coming to the conclusion that evangelicals/fundies outnumber all other kinds of Christians in the United States, and that this will only increase as the mainline/moderate element continues to dwindle.

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They may not list themselves as Christian in the event the rapture comes and their sorry asses get left behind. Then no one will persecute them and no one will be able to accuse them of being Christian.

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There was a recent article posted on Austin's atheism blog awhile back about how Christians are distancing themselves from the Christian label for some bizarre reason: http://atheism.about.com/b/2009/03/20/chri...stian-label.htm I don't get why Christians claim that their religion isn't a religion but a relationship either. For one thing, it's not even biblical as nowhere does the scriptures describe Christians' relationship with Jesus like that and James 1:27 specifically refers to Christianity as being a religion.

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2. Ask them straight up whether or not they are "Christian." You can still ask about denomination, but be prepared for them to remain mum about it. Ordinarily, you could infer a lot if they tell you their denomination (e.g. Ass of God or Southern Craptist as opposed to Episscopalian). That's starting to become irrelevant for a sizable bloc of evangelicals/fundies.

You could probably infer something (at least statistically) if they answer "yes" to being a xian but remain mum on denomination.

 

Too bad you can't get any information if you ask them "Do you have a 'relationship' with any imaginary beings?"

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Dougherty, Kevin D., Johson, Byron R., and Edward C. Polson. 2007. "Recovering the Lost: Remeasuring U.S. Religious Affiliation." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46:483-499.

 

I just got done browsing through the above, and what did it say at the end? Well, let me put it into my own words for you. Basically, so many evangelicals take that "it's a relationship, not a religion" shit so seriously that they claim no religious affiliation when pollsters call them up. So for a few years, they were getting a lot of people who had "no religion" but who were "religious." They tweaked it a bit and started asking things about congregations and whatnot. The nature of one's congregation seems to be more salient than particular denomination; usually, if someone says something like "Baptist" or "Assemblies of God" you can infer a lot about them. But nowadays people will neglect to mention denomination or even that they are "religious." They're just now figuring out and getting around this previously puzzling discrepancy.

 

It took a while for pollsters to catch on. So we're only just now starting to figure out how many evangelical/fundies are actually out there. Also, the latest data about American (lack of) religion that everyone was getting into a tizzy about recently does not tell us that evangelicals are disappearing. It's telling us that the middle (moderates, liberals, mainline churches) is disappearing. The irreligious are growing but the evangelicals/fundies are either standing fast or growing. So what we're seeing is not secularization but polarization, and without the soft middle to mediate between the two poles. Which means that shit is liable to get worse, even though the Christian Right is on the ropes at the moment. I predict that the Rick Warren types are going to be Pat n' Jerry 2.0. Same exact turd, but in a kinder, gentler, and hipper package.

 

Shit!

 

It kind of pisses me off. We need to know how many of them there are and where they are so that we can keep tabs on them. "Relationship" my fucking ass, it's a goddamn religion and that's that!

 

 

Thanks for sharing this, VC. This is interesting and useful to know. What a bunch of jack asses with their "personal relationship" bullshit. I'm glad Obama won the White House, but I'm bracing myself, because think the fundies are regrouping, growing, and festering in their hatred of freedom.

 

Do you happen to know how it changed their numbers when they started asking better questions?

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From the same blog:

 

The most fundamental problem with attaching new labels to old wineskins is that if the wine inside is sour, then slapping a fancy label on it won't make it sweet. It's still sour wine that will turn people's stomachs if they are misled by the label into taking a sip. Creating and adopting new labels only really makes sense if you are simultaneously changing the wine in some fashion. Even minor changes may be sufficient, but changes of some sort are needed to transform the sour wine into something drinkable. Otherwise, the new label is just false advertising and once people realize that they were deceived, the wine sours even more.

 

Yep, same turd, cooler paint job.

 

Do you happen to know how it changed their numbers when they started asking better questions?

 

It might take a few years. Things are still pretty murky. Pollsters, even the guys that work for Pew and the like, still ask too few, too ambiguous questions that get easily fudged.

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