“Is Evangelicalism America’s New ‘Religious Establishment?'”

So asks Roger Olson, Baylor scholar. He writes, “I think when contemporary sociologists of religion refer to (what they call) evangelicalism as America’s new religious establishment they mean it has no serious religious rival for influencing American political life…Evangelicalism has largely replaced ‘mainline Protestantism’ [inclusive of such denominations as the United Methodist, Presbyterian Church USA, American Baptist, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Disciple of Christ, African Methodist Episcopal Church and a few others] as American’s new religious establishment. It is, many scholars think, ‘the Republican Party at prayer.’ It has no serious religious rival for the label of America’s religious establishment.”

Olson then goes on to try to define Evangelicalism, which at first seems obvious but isn’t. Still, the point stands essentially as it does under first impression. Progressive Christianity is politically marginal – those who so self-identify belong to church groups which are white, small and old. They carry weight in the academy but can’t seem to move outside of the intelligentsia to capture the heart of Pew Guy and Street Guy.

I think it is clear that Trump would not have been elected without the Evangelicals. Within the top echelons of the GOP establishment the Evangelicals do not have a substantial place at the table. We are a movement from the bottom up.

Here is the rest of Olson’s post. BTW, Olson, a scholar for whom I have high regard, is not on the conservative side of Evangelicalism. He identifies himself as a post-conservative Evangelical. It was Olson who gave me some of the help I needed to move out of Calvinism, and though our relationship is pretty much restricted to his books, articles and emails, I regularly keep up with his contributions.

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