According to bestselling author Christine Wicker
, we've been lied to.
For years we've been told about the boundless power of the "religious right"
– a supposedly homogeneous group comprised of millions and millions of vociferous and devoted evangelical Christians. Think President George W. Bush
, or James Dobson
and his group Focus on the Family – evangelical Christians whose opinions are heard loudly on talk radio or in the press commenting on various social issues, like abortion or same-sex marriage. Indeed, we've been told, by evangelical groups, that their numbers are, frankly, staggering – that they make up some 25% of the population, more than 50 million Americans. If true, that would make the evangelical religious right a juggernaut. But, as it turns out, there are nowhere near that many evangelicals, Wicker, a former religion reporter for The Dallas Morning News
, writes in her latest book, The Fall of the Evangelical Nation
. Based on numbers provided by the churches themselves, Wicker estimates that they're probably closer to 7 percent of the population – and their numbers are actually in decline. The evangelicals simply aren't out there saving people in droves
. And that changes everything
Wicker's book is an engrossing read, a fascinating exploration of how evangelical Christian beliefs have been hijacked by political voices
– like, say, that of former Bush strategist Karl Rove – how the media allowed this to happen and, importantly, how evangelical adherence to the Bible as the inerrant word of God has pushed the faith into a corner, making it a branch of Christianity that is increasingly stuck in time, out-of-step with a changing world, and, it would seem, at least in its current form, slowly, but quite surely, fading.