One World Theatre
The Evangelicals Behind the Velvet Curtain
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.