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Book Chapter

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Gods in America: Religious Pluralism in the United States


Not that many people need convincing, but the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) provides confirming evidence that evangelicalism in America is alive and well. In this survey, which involved 54,461 telephone interviews, the 76% of respondents who identified themselves as Christians were asked a follow-up question: "Do you identify as a Born Again or Evangelical Christian?" Forty-five percent answered yes. This number obviously includes a fair number of folks within "mainline" denominations and within predominately African-American churches; more surprising, perhaps, 18.9% of American Catholics identified themselves as "born again" or "evangelical."

If one were to depend solely on the findings of the American Religious Identification Survey, one could reasonably conclude that, when it comes to religion, there are basically three types of folks in the United States: Nonbelievers, Other Christians, and evangelical Christians (with only 3.9% of Americans identifying themselves with non-Christian religious groups).

It must be noted that, when it comes to evangelicals, the ARIS report is in keeping with polling results over the past two decades, and in keeping with what many scholars of and commentators on religion in the United States have already noted, that is, since the mid-1970s, evangelicals have been the most dynamic, vibrant subgroup of American Protestants, with their influence spreading far beyond the Protestant confines. But this raises the question: What do we mean by "evangelical?"

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Citation information for the book:

  • Gods in America: Religious Pluralism in the United States, Charles L. Cohen and Ronald L. Numbers, eds. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013.


Oxford University Press

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New York, NY