Yesterday I was at Barnes and Noble (down the street from the $6-matinee theater) reading Andrew Greeley's new book, The Truth About Conservative Christians
, which purports to blow away a lot of the myths about conservative Christians, but which sort of falls apart the instant they reveal their methodology, which is based on an unhelpful attitude survey. In short, they divide "Conservative Christians" among anyone who believes in 1. literal interpretation of the Bible, 2. acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, and 3. necessity of spreading the good news. This has a lot impact later when they're mushing up numbers and belies some of their conclusions. For example, did you know that white "Conservative Protestants" (i.e., evangelicals) are only 7% more likely to vote Republican than white mainstream Christians? Neither did I. And neither, I suspect, did the evangelicals in the study. Instead of drawing data from tables, the researchers should have just gone around to specific church parking lots and counted bumper stickers.
However, buried in the book (they minimized tables, which makes the book rather frustrating to read) are a few useful facts---such as the fact that self-identified "evangelical" or "non-denominational" Christians make up 25% of the U.S. population. And there is also this wonderful quote, in the chapter on sexual behavior:Ninety-five percent of Conservative Protestant men have had only one sexual partner in the last year, compared to 96 percent of Mainline Protestant men. For women, 98 percent of both the Conservative Protestants and Mainline Protestants have had no more than one sexual partner in the last year. These numbers are often ridiculed by some social scientists who point out the random sexual couplings at professional association meetings as evidence to the contrary. One has to reply that most Americans are not social scientists and do not attend conventions (p. 133).
Labels: Dave Update