The Evangelical Complexion

At The Immanent Frame, Joel Carpenter asks what will be the effect of immigration on the social and political makeup of American evangelicalism. Immigration and American religion often is told as the story of pluralism, the burgeoning of religious traditions from around the world. Even more important, perhaps, is the diversification of American Christianity:

Yet the most important religious dynamic of recent immigration, sociologist Steve Warner argues, is that it has brought even more diversity to American Christianity. Two-thirds of the new immigrants are Christians. The most prominent factor in this realm is Latin American immigration and the burgeoning Latino population in the United States. The conventional wisdom is that Latin America is pervasively Roman Catholic, and so are Latinos in the United States. Indeed, some 68 percent of Latinos in the U.S. are Roman Catholic and Latinos now are 30 percent of all U.S. Catholics. More than half of Latino Catholics in the U.S., however, identify with the charismatic movement. Another major piece of news is the rise of evangelical Protestantism in Latin America and among U.S. Latinos. In both Latin America as a whole and among U.S. Latinos, about 15 percent are now evangelical Protestants.

Carpenter considers, for example, where Latino evangelicals will head, politically; current signs are mixed.

Carpenter's essay is the one of an ongoing series currently being posted at Immanent Frame, featuring essays from some of the best-known scholars in the country. Here's a description of the series, and I'll continue to post links here as they are published:

In response to the media's increasing focus on the role of “evangelicals” in this fall's presidential election, we have organized an ongoing series of pieces that will examine what politicians, journalists, scholars and even evangelicals themselves mean when they refer to this highly contested category. Our series on "Evangelicals & evangelicalisms" looks critically not only at assumptions about evangelicals both in the US and beyond, but also at the ways that the "evangelical" category has been used to position people institutionally and historically. While scholars of religion have long recognized the category's complexities, it rarely receives sustained critical attention in either academic or public circles. Dedicated not only to high intellectual quality, dynamic discussion, and critical debate, but also to reaching both academic and non-specialist audiences, The Immanent Frame provides an ideal context in which to air out some of these issues.


Luke Harlow said…
I really enjoy reading the posts over at the Immanent Frame, and that Carpenter essay was no exception. I look forward to what they have in store on complicating our collective understanding of the nature of the American evangelical landscape. (Incidentally, the Immanent Frame essay by Randall Jelks several months ago on Obama and Jeremiah Wright was well worth the time.)