Americas Changing Religious Landscape

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-9-48-59

V. Pechatnov, (, 
Moscow  State  Institute  of  International  Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Russian Federation (MGIMO), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow 119454, Russian Federation;
Val. Pechatnov, (, 
Moscow  State  Institute  of  International  Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Russian Federation (MGIMO), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow 119454, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The article presents an analysis of the main trends in America’s changing religious landscape at the beginning of the 21st century. It is based on recent sociological studies and survey research conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and Pew Research, most notably – PRRI’s report “America’s Changing Religious Identity. Findings from the 2016 American Values Atlas”. These trends are: 1) decline of white Christian America (especially Protestants); 2) growth of non-white Christians and non-Christian religions; 3) rise of religiously unaffiliated. There has been an acceleration of secularization process in recent years caused by such long-term trends as rising levels of urbanization and education, deep changes in racial/ ethnic composition of the U.S. population under impact of immigration, and decline of traditional values eroded by post-modern liberalism. Also consequential were specific policies of Obama’s administration promoting greater equality in race and gender relations. The emergence of “white nativism” was a natural reaction of white Christian America to the loss of its majority status, being enhanced by decline of living standards of the white working class. This movement was energized by the white populist campaign of Donald Trump and provided him with a narrow margin of victory. As a President, Trump stuck to his white Christian base (Evangelicals in particular) which remains his most loyal source of support. The decline of white Christian America has had a strong impact on the Democratic and Republican parties widening the value gap between them. Various Protestant denominations choose different strategies in response to their growing marginalization: from adapting to the increasingly liberal cultural mainstream to actively resisting it by all means including political ones. The American style secularization process still retains its combination of high institutional religiosity with creeping dissipation of dogmatic and moral foundations. Yet, given the ongoing social and cultural transformations along with the manifest generational dynamics, a further dissolution of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) centrality in American life looks irreversible and would have grave implications for the national identity. 

Keywords: white Christian America, Protestants, Catholics, Evangelicals, secularization, 2016 elections, immigration, national identity, Donald Trump 


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For citation:
Pechatnov V., Pechatnov V. Americas Changing Religious Landscape. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 9, pp. 48-59.

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