Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
In the end, strongly religious people will win the culture war because they have babies and those babies do not grow up to be atheists. Between 70% and 75% percent of the children of Evangelicals do not leave the faith when they grow up. With an average birthrate of 2.5 kids per woman, that means that Evangelicals will be a growing segment of the white vote over the coming decades and will gain modestly over all, even assuming the kind of immigration foreseen in the comprehensive immigration reform bills of the last decade or so. Moreover, evangelicals are effective in evangelism, getting nearly 11% of their members from adult conversions, and the retention rate for conversions is very high. So, going into the future, Evangelicals grow and do not shrink. Right now, American’s elementary schools are filled with far more religious people than they had with the Millennial generation. If demography is destiny, as the Democrats say, liberals are in a for a rude surprise starting around 2030.
Who else is benefiting? Mormons gain very little from evangelism but they have lots of children and have incredibly high retention rates. In the early 20th century, Mormons were just 40% of the population in Utah. Now, it is 58%. Over the next decade or so, Mormons will make the purple states of Colorado and Nevada a bit more red. This is all form Mormons having a lot of children who stay Mormon.
Who is losing the demographics game? Mainline protestant churches. They are having fewer children and their retention rate for their children is only 50%. All the groups that grow from evangelism — especially the secular “nones” (who grow more from evangelism then any other group in the United States) and Evangelicals — take from Mainline Protestants, liberal Catholics, and immigrants. That’s one reason why so many evangelical leaders like open or nearly open borders. So, when you hear about social conservatives getting older, what they are talking about is the Jimmy Carter voter who always thought the idea of Same Sex marriage was icky is getting older and dying.
The secular Millennials are still a growing part of the population, and the Nones will continue to grow over the next couple of decades, but will top out around 17% of the population before declining. By 2030, we will most likely be a majority pro-life country with a growing evangelical population — 30% or so — with a cohort of young voters who are religious and grew-up in homes where they felt as if their parents were under siege from secular culture.
What I want to know is how does the Republican party need to prepare for this while remaining electorally effective now? Some good things will start to happen for us in twelve years or so, but we need to win right now too.
I think that the Republican party would be wise to not jettison social issues but continue to make social conservatives feel welcome. Make as much progress as they can in the states on winning cultural war battles and make religious freedom a hallmark and litmus test in the party much like abortion and gun rights are now. Hone our attacks over the next three or four election cycles on economic issues, limited government causes, and liberty issues while cultivating a farm team of religions conservatives. By doing this ahead of the demographic shift, we position ourselves to reap huge dividends politically in the future.
I think we also will get a chance to break open the African American vote due to the Democrats secular overreach. As African Americans start to feel marginalized in the Democrat party — and see their ministers called intolerant and driven away from politics — Republicans may have a chance of making common cause with African Americans on social issues and religious freedom issues. At the very least, we’ll have that opportunity long before we get a chance to change their minds on economic issues. In the long term, we have a lot of reason for hope on the culture war.