Exploding some myths while clarifying some facts.

American evangelicals, accounting for one-fifth of the total population, representing 31 million of the nation’s adults, or 44 million if projections are extended to include the entire population, are clearly a powerful religious force in society. As a highly religious group dwelling in the midst of a society that as a whole is also highly religious, they share many of the same background characteristics. American evangelicals are most likely to be women, from the South, middle-aged, slightly less well-educated, slightly less likely to be college graduates, more likely to go to church, slightly less affluent, but better givers to church and religious causes. Like their fellow citizens in general, they believe in God, who observes their actions and rewards them and punishes them. They derive considerable consolation and comfort from their belief in God. They share with many nonevangelicals a common faith in the divinity of Christ; and in spite of their adherence to traditional beliefs, they are also subject to the secularizing influences of society: significant proportions among them are divorced or separated.

The CHRISTIANITY TODAY—Gallup Poll supports the legend that, when youth finish high school, they become church dropouts; but when they get married and have a baby, they drop back in. Evangelicals are least well-represented in the 18 to 24 age group; they are nearly caught up with the general profile at age 25 to 29 and remain at 4 percent above the general public from age 30 on. For evangelicals, at least, it can hardly be said that the churches are full of older people. The strong showing of evangelicals in the middle years (30 to 50) promises well for the leadership ...

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