Several scholars are challenging the Public Religion Research Institute’s recent survey that suggests white evangelicals are in major decline.
Professor Tobin Grant, department chair of Political Science at Southern Illinois University, pointed to other trustworthy polls, such as one from the General Social Survey. Those polls show that the white evangelical population has not declined, but rather remained stable over the past decade.
“The decline that they (PRRI) show in their survey doesn’t match what we see in other surveys that are of higher quality and are seen as more accurate,” Grant told The Christian Post, citing a General Social Survey graph of “white (not latino) ‘Born Again'” Christians, which shows a mostly flat line from 2004 to 2016 at around 20 percent.
PRRI’s study was released last week and revealed that the percentage of white evangelical Protestants dropped from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent of Americans in 2016. The study was based on interviews with more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states.
Andrew R. Lewis, assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, and Ryan P. Burge, who teaches at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, also took issue with PRRI’s report. They decided to compare PRRI’s results with findings from both the GSS and the Cooperative Congressional Election Study.
“Both have the advantage of being large, national samples, and both include two different approaches to measuring evangelicals — affiliation with specific denominations and self-identification with evangelicalism (which PRRI used),” they said.
They also noted that the other surveys use two different methods — the GSS is conducted face-to-face, while the CCES is conducted online.
“Essentially, comparing the GSS and CCES data with the PRRI results using both measurement strategies allows us to fully assess if there is decline,” they said.
SOURCE: Stoyan Zaimov