Fred has a very interesting post on evangelical trends, and it turns out that the numbers of white evangelicals have remained relatively constant over the last several decades. Meaning, as Fred notes, that for all the talk of evangelism, they haven't actually added to their numbers that much. Some of that, undoubtedly, has to do with people like me going out the back door, but the rest have to do with broader demographic changes.
This is interesting to me on several points. First, it suggests that my concerns with the evangelical church are not completely out in left field. I believe without much doubt that the evangelical church has become a defensive institution that cannot tell the difference between their sense of American history and their sense of their evangelical theology. Nothing speaks to that more than the evangelical support for torture. If anyone can honestly defend that as a practice consistent with the teachings of Christ, I will eat my words.
Second, I am concerned about the upcoming election. Recent polls show that Republicans have a huge lead in enthusiasm about the upcoming election. That scares me because so much of that enthusiasm is framed in outright factual errors and unbelievable racism. If you really think that the healthcare bill is a stepping stone to Hitler's version of America--then you are deluded. Absolutely batshit crazy. Having no basis in reality. Same if you look back at Bush's mismanagement of the economy (and everything else) and say that you "miss" him. Seriously. Disagree with Obama all you want. There are reasoned ways to do that. But not with Hitler and Bush.
But this demographic study suggests that Republicans are going to continue to struggle. They may do well in November. The off party usually does. And there is no doubt that the Tea Party idiots and Glenn Beck have poisoned the well with a lot of irrational anger. But the numbers suggest that this will not constitute a trend toward conservatism. Those angry white tea partiers are losing ground. Which is probably why they are angry, of course.