How the religious right is shrinking itself: Overzealous Christianity is driving people away

By Amanda Marcotte

he story of the religious right and political power seems a straightforward one: White evangelicals, by using religious guilt and white identity politics, have organized in a way that allows them to punch above their weight. Only about one in four Americans identify with this group, and yet they control the Republican Party and played a huge role in electing Donald Trump president. In effect, they have gotten their hands on the levers of power.

But does the religious right’s apparent success have unintended consequences? For years now, some political scientists have argued that there’s a backlash effect to all this conservative Christian organizing: It’s causing many people, especially young people, to get fed up with religion and quit altogether. Last year, for instance, Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute told Salon that it’s “young, white people leaving Christian churches that is driving up the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans.”

Now there’s more evidence that Jones is right: By organizing politically, the Christian right may be winning elections in the short term, but it’s also driving people out of the pews, which is likely to lead to long-term defeat.

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