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Running Against Sodom and Osama

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Demographics

United States

Total

Pentecostal

Charismatic

% Total population

23

5

18

% Of Protestants

28

10

18


Another reason the Christian Right as a social movement will have influence for many years is that its recruitment pool is expanding. While membership in mainline Protestant denominations continues to decline, the reverse is true in high demand fundamentalist and orthodox evangelical congregations.
~93 These congregants are a principle target of Christian Right para-church ministries and political action projects. The term para-church simply means an evangelical organization functioning outside of any one church.

A study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows that relatively conservative and orthodox forms of Christianity are on the rise in the United States and around the world. The Pew study uses an umbrella term, “Renewalist,” to cover a range of Pentecostal and charismatic Christians.~94

Pentacostal refers to members of specific Protestant denominations and church networks tied to fundamentalism and similar movements of orthodoxy within Protestantism. Pentecostal denominations include the Assemblies of God, the Church of God in Christ, and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

Charismatic refers to a way of practicing Christianity that features the power of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, with practitioners usually Protestant, but also Catholic.~95

The chart, based on data in the the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Spirit and Power report, shows how significant this sector is in the United States .~96

According to the Pew report:

U.S. renewalists, like renewalists around the world, also often stand out for their moral conservatism. Eight-in-ten U.S. pentecostals say that homosexuality is never justified, for instance, and nearly six-in-ten charismatics share this view. Among the public as a whole, by contrast, roughly half say homosexuality can never be justified.

...more than half (52%) of American pentecostals say that the government should take special steps to make the U.S. a Christian country, compared with only 25% among Christians overall.~97

These are religious populations where socially and politically conservative voting patterns dominate. A study by Baylor University suggests that there may even be an undercount of persons identified as evangelical in the United States.~98

At the same time, groups such as the Rightist Institute on Religion and Democracy receive funding from conservative foundations to assist local and national activists in their attempts within their mainline Protestant denominations to pursue more conservative social and political agendas.~99

These projects of “renewal” especially target the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal (Anglican), denominations, but others such as the United Church of Christ are also experiencing these divisive campaigns. Opposition to gay marriage and the ordination of gay ministers and Anglican priests is a major issue in this schismatic campaign.

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