Delivered October 4, 2007
I appreciate the opportunity to be here and to speak with you
today about American religion. The myths I want to talk about today
are the old-fashioned kind: falsehoods, errors of fact,
misinterpretations. I want to correct those errors, if I can, or at
last cast enough doubt on them that if you happen to have believed
them, you will now have reason to question them.
I grew up in Kansas where my parents and I attended a
little Baptist church in our rural community. Plain speaking was
all we knew. I hope to engage in some plain speaking today to
correct some mistaken impressions of American religion.
I have spent more than 30 years studying American religion. I've
designed and conducted more than a dozen major national studies on
various aspects of American religion, analyzed dozens of other
national surveys, and collected in-depth interview transcripts in
which more than a thousand people talked at length about their
faith journeys. I have written books and articles based on this
information and have assisted journalists and other writers who
were committed to getting accurate information to the public.
But there is a dynamic in the modern media that too often gets
the story wrong. Sometimes it starts with a hunch, which a
journalist seeks evidence to support and an editor turns into a
headline, and sometimes it starts with academics themselves,
running with an idea that gets more attention than it should. There
is an enormous amount of misinformation out there about American
religion, and this is unfortunate, especially because it misleads
the public and our policymakers, but also because there is
usually good solid evidence that should be brought to light.
The particular falsehoods I am going to talk about today are
ones I happen to believe are especially misleading. They have
been recounted again and again in the media, and yet they are
Myth #1: America is in the midst of a religious and
The specific formulation of this notion can be traced to a single
book by the distinguished economist Robert Fogel, but it
was an idea that became popular among writers who had never heard
of Robert Fogel. Among journalists, it started to circulate
soon after the Christian conservative movement began gaining
headlines in the 1980s, which was understandable but in another
sense curious because Fogel had actually been talking about a
presumed awakening in the 1960s and '70s, what others had termed
the Age of Aquarius, or simply New Age religion.
Among academics, the idea gained popularity among scholars of
immigrant churches, Pentecostal movements, and megachurches. They
saw vitality everywhere. It was easy to imagine that American
religion went through cycles, through ups and downs. If the 1960s
had witnessed the death of God movement, the 1980s would be what
none other than the distinguished scholar Daniel Bell had
anticipated in 1976 as a "return to religion." The search for God
would find new leaders and new followers, just as it did when
Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield led the first awakening in
the 1740s and when subsequent revivals occurred in the 1830s and
again at the start of the 20th century. And it was not an argument
about some vague inner working of the Holy Spirit that could not be
seen or would not be observed for years to come. The idea was that
this new awakening would be evident in a return to institutional
religion itself and, specifically, in rising church attendance.
There was some evidence, of course, which seemed to support the
idea. On several occasions, the Gallup Organization reported that
Americans believed the importance of religion in America was
increasing. A study of baby boomers showed that many of
them were returning to the houses of worship they had
abandoned when they were younger. In self-report questions,
many Americans said they were more interested in religion than they
had been five years previously.
In recent years, journalists have sometimes continued to
entertain the idea of an upsurge in American religion. It
makes for a good news story if attendance at a local megachurch is
shooting through the roof, for example. But this idea is pretty
easily disproved simply by looking at trends in church attendance.
Of course, those figures have been questioned on grounds that
people may be over-reporting attendance, but never with evidence to
suggest that more people are attending than say so to
The best data, which come from the General Social Surveys
conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University
of Chicago, show that there has been no growth in church attendance
over at least the past three decades, if not longer. These surveys,
which ask not simply whether a person has attended in the past
week but how often the person has attended in the past year, and
which have response rates anywhere from three to five times higher
than the usual Pew or CNN poll, show that between 30 and 35 percent
of the adult U.S. public claim to attend religious services nearly
every week, every week, or more than once a week, and these surveys
show no indication of a religious revival anytime since the surveys
began in 1972. Indeed, if one relies on Gallup data to look at
trends before this, the high point in weekly church attendance
occurred in 1958 during the Cold War and has never reached that
Myth #2: There is no secularization.
This view has been the more sober-minded argument by writers
who doubt that there is a religious revival but who nevertheless
see a lot of vitality in American religion. It has been an easy
argument to make based on the same church attendance figures that
disprove the myth about a religious revival. For example, in the
General Social Surveys, 35 percent of the American public reported
attending religious services "nearly every week" or more in 1973;
in 1983, that figure had risen slightly to 37 percent; and in 1993,
it was still 35 percent. Looking at some of these data, two
prominent sociologists wrote in the American Sociological
Review in 1987 that there was no evidence to suggest that
secularization, meaning a decline in the strength of American
churchgoing, was taking place.
However, closer inspection of these and more recent data reveals
that religious attendance has not remained stable. When the
political scientist Robert D. Putnam began examining trends in
religious participation in the late 1990s as part of his
massive compendium of evidence about civic involvement, he came to
the conclusion that there had been "a sharp rise in church
attendance in the first several decades after World War II,
followed by a decline in church attendance of roughly one-third
between the late 1950s and the late 1990s." Putnam also
concluded that evidence about religious membership and
attendance at Sunday school showed a similar decline.
Not everyone was convinced. Perhaps Putnam's argument had more
to do with decline in the 1960s than later, or perhaps he was
intent on finding evidence that fit his larger thesis about the
collapse of community.
Subsequent research, though, shows that there has been decline.
In the General Social Survey data, there has actually been a slow
but definite long-term slide in churchgoing of about a quarter of a
percentage point each year. Overall, between 5 and 6 percent fewer
Americans participate regularly in religious services now than in
the early 1970s. There are about 200 million adults in the
United States. So that is a loss, conservatively, of 10
million regular churchgoers. There are somewhere between 300,000
and 350,000 congregations in the United States. So that is a
loss per congregation of about 30 members.
And yet, if one talks to clergy or reads stories about religion
in the newspapers, the headline is all about growth, not decline.
So what is going on? Well, for one thing, the total population of
the United States has grown by almost 50 percent since 1970,
so even though a smaller proportion of the public is attending
religious services regularly, the absolute numbers are larger. It's
just that they would have been considerably larger if the rate of
churchgoing had held steady.
What else is going on is that older people attend more often
than younger people, and Americans are living longer and healthier,
which means there are more old people to attend. In fact, among
Americans in their 70s and 80s, a higher percentage are
regular attendees than was true a generation ago.
But if that is the case, it means that the decline among younger
adults is more severe than we might have supposed. Consider the
following: Among adults in their 30s who were surveyed between 1972
and 1976, 35 percent attended services regularly, but among
adults in the same age group surveyed between 2002 and 2006,
only 28 percent did so. Those younger adults in the 1970s were the
baby boomers that we heard so much about. We worried then that
boomers were going to church less. But now the next wave-the
boomers' children-are attending even less, so that does not
bode well for the future.
Do they eventually come back to the church as they mature? Yes,
among baby boomers, about half of those who dropped out eventually
came back. That is one thing if it means that someone drops out at
18 and comes back when they marry and start having children in
their early 20s, but young adulthood now lasts longer. Thirty
is the new 20, as the saying goes, so people in their 30s are not
attending as often as those in their 30s did a generation ago.
Neither are people in their 40s, or even in their 50s.
Myth #3: Politics is driving people from the
This one has probably been articulated less often than the first
two. It goes something like this: American religion was
hijacked in the 1980s by the Religious Right. Jerry Falwell,
Pat Robertson, and others politicized religion to the point that
people who disagreed with them-political moderates and
liberals-eventually said a plague on all of it. They quit
attending religious services as often-which offers an explanation
for the downward trend we have just considered. They also quit
identifying themselves with a religious tradition and instead
described themselves as religiously nonaffiliated.
The growth in identifying oneself as religious nonaffiliated is,
in fact, one of the more dramatic changes in American religion in
recent decades. In the early 1970s, between 5 and 7 percent of the
public in General Social Surveys said they were nonaffiliated; by
2006, that figure had risen to 17 percent-more evidence, seemingly,
that there is a secularizing trend.
No affiliation, like nonattendance, is especially prominent
among younger adults. For instance, among those in their 20s
surveyed between 2002 and 2006, nearly a quarter (23 percent) said
they were nonaffiliated. And among those in their 30s, almost as
many (19 percent) gave the same response.
However, those who resist interpreting any trend as evidence of
secularization might say this is just a short-term blip that can be
blamed on contentious politics. As people forget about Jerry
Falwell and Pat Robertson, they will gradually feel more
comfortable identifying themselves with religion once again.
The argument is similar to one made about baby boomers in the
1970s. Their apostasy, critics said, was sort of a wild-oats thing,
brought on by the Vietnam war and student protests; once those were
over, people would rediscover their faith. That argument
proved to be at least half wrong, and the current successor
argument probably is too. The reason is that religion, then and
now, is influenced more by demographics than by politics. It is
especially influenced by marrying, settling down, having
children, and raising them.
Elsewhere, with more statistical detail than I am able to
present here, I showed that nearly all the decline in church
attendance among young adults could be explained by the fact that
they were marrying later. In fact, it exaggerates only a
little to say that Americans in their 20s and early 30s divide into
two groups of about equal size: those who are married, the
majority of whom participate in religion, and those who are not
married, the majority of whom do not participate.
Marriage, it turns out, has a stronger statistical effect on
churchgoing than having no children or some children, having more
children, or having school-age children. Those matter, but not as
much as might be expected, and possibly because the growing number
of people who have children out of wedlock tend not to attend
church, while those who have children after marriage do. The
important point is that younger adults' decisions about
attending church are influenced by family lifestyle- which of
course may also be related to politics- but they are not staying
home simply because they dislike the Religious Right.
The evidence on religious identity also bears the imprint of
delayed marriage. A generation ago, young married adults were far
less likely to be religiously nonaffiliated than young single
adults, but being married was the norm, so relatively few young
adults said they were religiously nonaffiliated. Currently,
young single adults are even more likely to be religiously
nonaffiliated, and there are far more young single adults than was
true a generation ago, so it has become more common to be
nonaffiliated. Furthermore, those who are married have married
later, so they have also had time to become nonaffiliated, and more
of them remain that way even after they marry.
A pastor who has worked with young adults for several
generations explained it in a way that is perhaps clearer than
citing statistics. With only a slight overstatement, he put it this
way: It used to be that boy and girls got confirmed at 13, and you
didn't see them again until they were 18 and came back to get
married. That was five years, and maybe they were still living at
home most of the time. Nowadays, you don't see them again until
they are 30 and come back to get married. That's 17 years. It's a
And one other thing: It used to be that most young adults who
were religiously nonaffiliated had grown up in a religious
tradition. Nowadays, a much larger percentage have grown up without
a religious affiliation. This means they are more likely to stay
nonaffiliated. They are more likely to marry someone who is also
nonaffiliated, and they are less likely to have parents putting
pressure on them to become affiliated again.
It is true that the religiously nonaffiliated still have ties to
religion. At least half, if not more, believe in God. As many
as a quarter attend religious services, often at churches that do
not require membership or formal affiliation. And about a
quarter fall into that much-discussed category who say they are
"spiritual but not religious," meaning that they have some interest
in prayer, meditation, and spirituality. But all of these
aspects of religion are driven mostly by the demographics of
growing up, getting married, and settling down-all of which are
happening later-more so than by disaffiliating from religion
because of politics.
Myth #4: Membership in evangelical denominations is
We move now from perceptions of American religion that are hardly
credible at all to ones that are partly true but require some
modification. The idea that evangelicalism, or conservative
Protestantism as it is sometimes called, is flourishing is a very
popular idea. It makes intuitive sense. News stories about church
growth are always about conservative congregations.
This perception of growth fits well with arguments about
the rising influence of evangelicals in politics; and in the
academic literature, there have been arguments for a long time that
conservative churches grow and can be expected to grow
precisely because they offer strict teachings, require a lot
from their members, and give people something steady to cling to in
an uncertain world.
But whether evangelicalism is actually flourishing is
harder to determine than might be imagined, for two reasons:
vagueness about "evangelical" and vagueness about "flourishing." In
some accounts, evangelical means anyone who tells a pollster that
they are evangelical or have ever had a born-again experience or
something like it-questions that pretty easily evoke assent from 40
to 50 percent of the population; and in some accounts, flourishing
is inferred from the fact that James Dobson claims to have the ear
of the President or that attendance at Willow Creek or
Saddleback or Prestonwood is rising.
The historian of American religion, Mark A. Noll, who identifies
as an evangelical and until recently taught at Wheaton College, has
argued that evangelicalism was far stronger on the eve of the
Civil War than it has been anytime since. In the 1850s, he
estimates, evangelical denominations, which at the time
included Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, accounted for 85
percent of all congregations. These churches had enough seating
capacity to include nearly all of the nation's population, and even
if churchgoing was not as common then as now, the preponderance of
religious influence in local communities and in national
politics was in the hands of evangelicals. If we take the
1850s as a benchmark, then, we may not be as impressed with recent
evangelical flourishing as pundits often are.
But, of course, pundits seldom have the long view in mind. If
they do, it is a long view dating perhaps to the early 1980s
when Jerry Falwell's broadcasts from Lynchburg began reaching
a national audience and when the first signs that conservative
religious values might be making a comeback were observed. If
evangelicalism is flourishing, its growth should be evident since
the early 1980s.
Evident how? Well, among other things, in belief. Evangelicals
have always held to the Bible as their standard of belief and have
distinguished themselves from their more liberal brethren by
arguing that the Bible is divinely inspired, inerrant, effective
for salvation, and to be taken literally as God's truth and moral
Since researchers have been conducting surveys, some question or
another aimed at tapping this view of the Bible has been regarded
as a measure of evangelicalism. Since 1984, the General Social
Survey has included a question asking respondents which
statement "comes closest to describing your feelings about the
Bible," one option of which is "the Bible is the actual word of God
and is to be taken literally, word for word." In 1984, 38
percent of the public selected this response. By 2006, the number
had fallen to 33 percent. No evidence of evangelical growth
The other way in which researchers have tried to measure change
in evangelicalism is by tracking membership in conservative
Protestant denominations. This approach is generally favored
because conservative views of the Bible and other doctrines are
indeed more common in these than in other denominations and because
participation in these denominations is an indication of their
collective strength in attracting members, exposing them to church
teachings, and putting them in contexts where conservative moral
values are reinforced.
What counts as a conservative Protestant denomination is
not always clear, but researchers have gone to great lengths to
sort out the distinctions between, say, Southern and American
Baptists, Missouri Synod and ELCA Lutherans, the Presbyterian
Church in America and the PCUSA, and so on, and thus to classify
respondents accordingly. In two important ways, these data suggest
that membership in evangelical denominations has in fact been
First, as a proportion of the entire U.S. public,
evangelical Protestant affiliation grew from around 17 to 20
percent in the early 1970s to between 25 and 28 percent in the most
Second, because affiliation with the more liberal or
moderate mainline Protestant denominations was declining during
this period, the relative strength of conservative
Protestantism was even more evident. For example, conservative
Protestantism had been only about two-thirds as prominent as
mainline Protestantism in the early 1970s but outstripped it by a
margin of 2 to 1 in some of the most recent surveys.
Caution is required, though, in interpreting even the seeming
straightforward growth of conservative Protestantism as measured by
denominational affiliation. One reason is that the growth
appears to have slowed considerably among younger adults. For
example, adults currently in their 20s are only 3 percentage points
more likely than adults of the same age in the early 1970s to be
affiliated with evangelical Protestantism, and among adults in
their 30s, only 2 percentage points more likely.
A second reason is that this apparent slowing of growth is
evident in statistics from large conservative denominations
themselves. For instance, growth rates in the Southern Baptist
Convention and Assemblies of God, both touted for
exceptionally high growth in the 1970s, have slowed
dramatically to the point of barely keeping up with natural
increase in the overall population. This tapering off,
incidentally, flies in the face of a popular argument based on the
earlier growth that suggested conservative denominations would
always grow because of their strict teachings and ability to
extract resources from members.
A third qualification is that the best research on mainline
decline shows it mostly to have resulted from demographics,
especially low birth rates and greater intergenerational spacing.
That trend now seems to be catching up with conservative
Protestants as well, especially as members become better
educated and postpone marriage and childbearing.
Finally, recent research confirms that evangelical Protestants'
growth had come more from natural increase than from drawing
members away from mainline churches, although some of the latter
was evident. In the recent research, though, most of the net growth
among conservative Protestants that is not explained by natural
increase appears to be from larger numbers of former Catholics
becoming evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants, especially among
None of this is to suggest that conservative Protestantism is
declining or is not a vibrant factor in American religious life. It
does, however, challenge observers to be more nuanced in their
interpretations. Evangelicalism is not experiencing the huge
growth suggested by figures from stories about megachurches. As a
proportion of the population, it remains at only about 25
percent, which gives it legitimate reason to feel embattled by the
larger culture despite its growth, and it remains denominationally
divided and located in many small congregations about which little
is heard as well as in the few large ones about which much is
Myth #5: The culture war is over-or never
This is an issue that extends well beyond religion, including
broader questions about values, morality, politics, education, and
the arts, and yet religion is at its core. In 1988, when I
published The Restructuring of American Religion, I
documented with both quantitative and historical evidence what I
termed a growing fracture or division between self-identified
religious conservatives and self-identified religious liberals. I
did not term the division a culture war but wrote that there
were developments in religion, politics, and the media that were
reinforcing it in ways that had not been present during the
1950s and 1960s.
Three years later, at about the same time that Pat Buchanan
delivered his widely viewed address about culture wars, the
sociologist James Davison Hunter published the widely read book
arguing that there was indeed a culture war between those with
orthodox religious worldviews and those with progressive
views. Other books and popular articles made a
similar point, and ongoing debates within denominations about
abortion, homosexuality, and related issues underscored the point
that the nation was divided culturally.
However, the image of a culture war never sat comfortably with
many observers who saw the debate being fomented more by
special-interest groups than at the grassroots and who thought
there was a large segment of the population in the middle who
either did not care or held less polarized views. By the late
1990s, the pendulum among scholarly experts had swung decidedly in
the other direction to the point that it became popular to argue
that there was no culture war at all. If one appeared to exist, the
critics said, it was either concerned with a very narrow range of
issues-perhaps only one- and probably was being exploited cynically
by political operatives. In the past year or two, a new line of
argument has become popular; namely, that there was a culture war
in the 1980s and 1990s, but that was the divisive politics of the
baby-boom generation and is now being transcended by a new
generation of political and religious leaders.
Forecasting is always risky, but there are reasons to question
the view that culture wars are simply a relic of the past. For one
thing, some of the data collected during the 1980s and 1990s
did show increasing polarization. This was the case for
opinions about abortion. It was also the case on self-report
questions about religious identity in which more people identified
themselves on the extreme right or extreme left than identified
themselves in the middle.
A second reason to suggest that culture wars may continue is the
evidence we just considered about religious affiliation:
Evangelicals, who are most likely to espouse conservative
moral views, are at least holding their own; the nonreligious, who
are most likely to hold liberal moral views, are becoming a larger
segment of the society; and mainline Protestants, who have
held moderate or mixed views, are declining. Catholics are holding
their own as a percentage of the population, but traditional
Catholics hold quite different views from liberal Catholics.
A third consideration is that evangelical Protestants in
their 20s and 30s, who are relatively moderate or mixed in
their views about homosexuality, have become more conservative in
their views about abortion.
Finally, data on the two largest immigrant groups-Latinos and
Asian Americans-suggest that they are religiously divided on moral
issues in much the same way that white European Americans are.
Naturally, much about how salient these issues will be is likely to
depend on who the candidates are in 2008 and what other issues are
on the table, but it is quite reasonable to imagine that religious
divisions about moral issues will still be important.
I have argued that some of the common notions about American
religion are wrong. The idea of a religious revival seems not to be
supported by any data. The notion that American religion is stable,
holding its own, though, also seems not to be supported. There
are signs of serious erosion in such standard measures of religious
vitality as church attendance and religious affiliation.
The reason for these declines seems not to be that people are
leaving because of religious involvement in politics. The more
likely reason is that younger Americans are marrying later, having
fewer children, and having them later-all of which means that
far more younger Americans are single and childless than was true a
generation ago and that these same younger Americans are not
settling into religious congregations at the same rate as their
parents did in the 1970s. The growth of evangelical
Protestantism is a reality but is not as strong as many observers
have suggested and may be weakening, again as a result of
demographic changes. The view that the culture wars never happened
or have ended seems questionable.
Time has not permitted an extensive examination of the
arguments or evidence. As always, there are different ways of
defining terms and assessing data. But there is no reason why we
should be content with simplistic arguments about American
religion. It is, after all, a complex phenomenon, and even
describing the broad contours requires being careful about notions
that seem plausible but are not supported by the available
Robert Wuthnow, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and
Director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton
University. These remarks were delivered as part of a conference on
"Religious Practice and Civic Life: What the Research Says,"
sponsored by The Heritage Foundation, with research partners
Child Trends and the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and
funding provided by the John Templeton Foundation, held in
Arlington, Virginia, on October 4, 2007.
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
principal spokesperson for this view in sociology was R. Stephen
Warner, "Work in Progress Toward a New Paradigm for the Sociology
of Religion in the United States," American Journal of
Sociology, Vol. 98 (1993), pp. 1044-1093.
Daniel Bell, Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (New
York: Basic Books, 1976).
 Some of these polls are reviewed in John
M. Benson, "The Polls: A Rebirth of Religion?" Public Opinion
Quarterly, Vol. 45 (1981), pp. 576-585; see also George
Gallup, Jr., and Jim Castelli, The People's Religion: American
Faith in the 90s (New York: Macmillan, 1989).
Wade Clark Roof, Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys
of the Baby Boom Generation (San Francisco: Harper San
George Gallup, Jr., and Timothy Jones, The Next American
Spirituality: Finding God in the Twenty-First Century (New
York: Chariot Victor, 2000).
Michael Hout and Andrew M. Greeley, "The Center Doesn't Hold:
Church Attendance in the United States, 1940-1984," American
Sociological Review, Vol. 52 (1987), pp. 325-345. This article
was not without critics and sparked a broader debate. See Mark
Chaves, "Secularization and Religious Revival: Evidence
from the U.S. Church Attendance Rates, 1972- 1986," Journal for
the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 28 (1989), pp. 464-477;
Mark Chaves, "Holding the Cohort: Reply to Hout and Greeley,"
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 29
(1990), pp. 525-530; Michael Hout and Andrew M. Greeley, "The
Cohort Doesn't Hold: Comment on Chaves," Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 29 (1990), pp. 519-524;
Glenn Firebaugh and Brian Harley, "Trends in U.S. Church
Attendance: Secularization and Revival, or Merely Lifecycle
Effects?" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
Vol. 30 (1991), pp. 487-500; and Michael Hout and Andrew M.
Greeley, "The Secularization Myth," The Tablet, June 10,
1989, pp. 665-668.
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of
American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), p.
combined results from General Social Surveys conducted in 2002,
2004, and 2006 and compared them with General Social Surveys
conducted from 1972 through 1976. Among respondents in their 70s
and 80s, 48 percent in the recent surveys attended religious
services nearly every week or more often, compared with 44 percent
of the same age group in the earlier surveys.
Some evidence in support of this argument is presented in Michael
Hout and Claude S. Fischer, "Explaining the Rise of Americans with
No Religious Preference: Politics and Generation," American
Sociological Review, Vol. 67 (2002), pp. 176-190.
Robert Wuthnow, After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and
Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007).
Mark A. Noll, America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham
Lincoln (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp.
General Social Survey 1972-2006 Cumulative Survey Codebook
(Chicago: National Opinion Research Center, 2006), variable labeled
as "Bible" with two other options: "The Bible is the inspired word
of God but not everything in it should be taken literally, word for
word," and "The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends,
history, and moral precepts recorded by men."
The linear trend line in this response was a decline of 0.41
percentage point per year. Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents
saying the Bible was an ancient book of fables rose from 13 percent
in 1984 to 16 percent in 2006.
Michael Hout, Andrew Greeley, and Melissa J. Wilde, "The
Demographic Imperative in Religious Change in the United States,"
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 107 (2001), pp.
Wuthnow, After the Baby Boomers.
Wuthnow, The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and
Faith Since World War II (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press, 1988).
James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define
America (New York: Basic Books, 1991).
A useful overview of the debate can be found in James Davison
Hunter and Alan Wolfe, Is There a Culture War? A Dialogue on
Values and American Public Life (Washington, D.C.: Brookings
As an example, see especially E. J. Dionne Jr., "Why the Culture
War Is the Wrong War," Atlantic Monthly, January/February
2006, at www.theatlantic.com.
A more extended discussion of these culture war issues can be found
in Wuthnow, After the Baby Boomers.