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Conservative Christian Growth: Membership Begins at Home1

Conservative Christian Growth: Membership Begins at Home1

Chapter:
(p.103) Seven Conservative Christian Growth: Membership Begins at Home1
Source:
The Truth about Conservative Christians
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226306759.003.0007

More American Protestants today prefer the Conservative denominations than the Mainline ones. The Conservatives, it is said, have a strong appeal for American Protestants because of their emphasis on traditional evangelical teachings. The Mainline clergy have sent their flocks elsewhere by some combination of liberal politics and “feel-good” religion. By their collective reckoning, the growth of the Conservative denominations represents a reaction against “excessive liberalism” in which people raised in Mainline denominations register displeasure with the (supposed) liberal ethos of Mainline Protestantism by leaving to join denominations that emphasize the Conservative beliefs they share. This chapter aims to dispatch the “excessive liberalism” argument and to supplant it definitively with a demographic one. It shows that for most of the twentieth century, women in Conservative Protestant denominations had more children than women in Mainline denominations. The larger families gave Conservative denominations such a huge demographic advantage that it explains 70 percent of the Conservative upsurge. The remaining 30 percent came from a drop in conversions out of Conservative denominations into the Mainline.

Keywords:   Conservative Protestants, Mainline Protestants, liberalism, demographic expansion

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