Winner of the 2019 Grawemeyer Award in Religion
Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, spells out the profound political and cultural consequences of a new reality—that America is no longer a majority white Christian nation. “Quite possibly the most illuminating text for this election year” (The New York Times Book Review).
For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA) set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white, Christian nation.
Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Robert P. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious and sexual liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them.
Beyond 2016, the descendants of WCA will lack the political power they once had to set the terms of the nation’s debate over values and morals and to determine election outcomes. Looking ahead, Jones forecasts the ways that they might adjust to find their place in the new America—and the consequences for us all if they don’t. “Jones’s analysis is an insightful combination of history, sociology, religious studies, and political science….This book will be of interest to a wide range of readers across the political spectrum” (Library Journal).
Providing an obituary of "white Christian America," a eulogy, and a look at stages of grief over its death, Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute and online columnist for the Atlantic, urges America to come to grips with the fact that it is no longer a nation composed mostly of white Christians. Jones follows the emergence and rise of what he calls white Christian America (WCA), often with some interesting, little-known tidbits, and then examines how that majority has disappeared. His thoughts focus on white men, however, leaving readers to ponder how discontented women play into the declining WCA numbers on top of the increasing numbers of non-white Christians. In addition, Jones never thoroughly considers whether Christians refusing to change their attitudes toward same-sex marriage, for example, might be doing so because of solid belief in the scriptures rather than because they don't want to join non-whites who support marriage equality. Jones's assumption that white Christians are having a harder time getting elected because they represent an old way of thinking fails to consider that voters might think those particular politicians are incompetent regardless of their race. The book is full of facts, figures, charts, and illustrations, but even as Jones opines that the death of white Christian America is a good thing, he never fully engages with the source of this transformation.