I have received a lot of pushback when I talk about researching the White American evangelicals. There has been expressed frustration and even statements that I am attacking a faith that I have been immersed in and have been taught is the only one True religion.
My aim is not to assess the doctrine or apologists within the faith, but to explore the subcultural dynamics affecting those within and outside the community. Defining the terms being used within this blog will be essential in providing context and showing the separation of spirituality vs religion/religious culture (Reference the Definitions of Key Terms below).
More specifically, the White fundamental evangelical Christian culture entails a fundamental religious system, “characterized by beliefs that one’s religion is infallible, unchangeable, and the only true religious path,” entailing a patriarch structure where White males are in a position of authority (Adams et al., 2018, pg 2; Barr, 2021). Numerous research studies and reports have shown how this structure perpuates a close system where children and women encouter abuse while the men are protected (Barr, 2021). Even though Christianity has evolved through out history and been adjusted culturally and linguisticly, there is a rigid view of the White American fundamental perception as being the correct interpretation.
Additionally, the White fundamental evangelical system differs from other evangelical cultures through the close association with Christian nationalism, a belief of America being God’s chosen nation and must be defended as such (du Mez, 2020). The American Republican party, consistently associated with fundamental Christianity, has been utilized to encourage others to adopt White fundamental evangelical religious values on others (Dein et al., 2020; Forster, 2019; Herrmann, 2020; Lassen, 2021; Perry et al., 2021). This governmental alliance can be seen through topics such as abortion and marriage.
A pattern of utilizing Christianity to justify a system that harms others has been observed. These dynamics are readily seen within how other groups are treated who do not align with the larger Christian culture. Through increased Christian nationalism, the belief America is God’s chosen nation and must be defended as such, and holding to a patriarch structure, White fundamental evangelical culture has been identified to have elevated stigma and prejudice towards others who are not in alignment with their fundamental religious values (Adams et al., 2018; du Mez, 202; Herrmann, 2020; Judd et al., 2018; Lloyd, 2021; Perry et al., 2021).
Definitions of Key Terms
Christian Nationalism – the belief America is God’s chosen nation and must be defended as such (du Mez, 2020).
Evangelical(ism) – An individual or group holding to 4 key tenets: 1) belief in the inerrancy of Scripture/Bible, 2) belief in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ to save mankind, 3) focus on conversion or accepting Christ as one’s Savior, and 4) emphasis on witnessing and activism for social reform (Joustra, 2019; Stokes & Schewe, 2016).
Fundamental(ism) – A way of thinking or worldview marked by authoritarianism with intolerance for ambiguity (Peteet, 2019).
Orthodoxy – Acceptance of doctrine central to the religious system (Adams et al., 2018).
Patriarchy – A society promoting male authority and female submission (Barr, 2021).
Religion – A person’s adherence to beliefs, values, and practices proposed by an organized institution devoted to searching for the divine through prescribed ways of viewing and living life (Garssen et al., 2020; Veselska et al., 2018).
Religious Fundamental(ism) – An approach to a religious system characterized by believing the religion is infallible, unchangeable, and the only true religious path (Adams et al., 2018).
Spirituality – A subjective experience in striving for and experience of a connection with the “essence of life” or higher power in which the experiences of meaning in life and connectedness are central elements (Garssen et al., 2020; Veselska et al., 2018).
Stigma – A stereotype or negative views attributed to an individual or group of people when their characteristics or behavior is seen as different from or inferior to the societal norms (Ahmedani, 2011; Henderson & Gronholm, 2018)
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du Mez, K. K. (2021). Jesus and John Wayne: How white evangelicals corrupted a faith and fractured a nation. Liveright.
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