It’s Not About the Color. It’s About the Cross
Time and time again, the media and the left try to discourage Christian conservatives after we score major victories. Take the Public Religion Research Institute’s (PRRI) latest research on “America’s changing religious identity.” CEO Robert P. Jones tries to eulogize “White evangelicals” by citing America’s demographic shifts and decline in those identifying by this term.
It’s no secret that President Trump’s victory hinged on the many evangelicals who voted for him.
Many of them voted for the conservative policies in the Republican platform. Yet Jones sees the votes of white evangelical Trump voters as just a last-ditch effort to stay relevant.
Out of PRRI’s fourteen findings, let’s look at just three.
1. White Christians now account for fewer than half of the public. Today, 43% of Americans identify as white and Christian, and only 30% as white and Protestant; as compared to 1976 when roughly eight in ten Americans identified as white and identified with a Christian denomination, and a majority (55%) were white Protestants.
White Americans don’t hold a monopoly on Christianity. The faith grows more broad and diverse every year. This poll also misses the growing, diverse population of Americans who identify as evangelical.
Since the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, we’ve seen major growth in the non-white population. In fact, experts predict that white Americans will no longer be the majority of the U.S. population by 2065. Over time, then, the part of the population identifying as white will shrink. So, o see a decline in numbers using the identifier of “white” is what one would expect.
2. White evangelical Protestants are in decline — along with white mainline Protestants and white Catholics. White evangelical Protestants were once thought to be bucking a longer trend, but over the past decade their numbers have dropped substantially. Fewer than one in five (17%) Americans are white evangelical Protestant, but they accounted for nearly one-quarter (23%) in 2006.
Why are there so few polls on black evangelicals? Do we not exist? As noted in PRRI’s findings, Baptists make up the largest denominational group among Protestants. Baptists are already quite diverse. The same is true for Pentecostals.
In fact, a growing number of churches today are evangelical mega-churches. And many of those mega-churches are diverse. Indeed, there are many in which white members are the minority. As the makeup of the country changes, so will the makeup of the Church.
3. White evangelical Protestants remain the dominant religious force in the GOP. More than one-third (35%) of all Republicans identify as white evangelical Protestant, a proportion that has remained roughly stable over the past decade. Roughly three-quarters (73%) of Republicans belong to a white Christian religious group.
Is this a bad thing? No. It makes sense that people support the party that shares their views. The Republican Party’s platform most aligns with biblical principles that evangelicals believe in. The Democratic Party, in contrast, makes abortion and LGBT activism a litmus test for office. These strike at the heart of orthodox Christian belief.
President of Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, put it well. “White people do not have a corner on biblical Christianity,” he said. “It’s not about the color. It’s about the cross.”
The cure for the decline of Christian values in our culture is the Great Commission. “Go and make disciples of all nations,” Jesus commanded at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
As Christians, we must share our faith with the nations. That is, “with all people groups.” That might be mean we travel across the ocean, or just across town. Everyone needs the Gospel. If Christians are faithful to do this, then there will not be an end to our influence on the culture.
Patrina Mosley is Assistant Director of FRC Action.