12.2.Fundamentalism et al.

12.2.Fundamentalism et al. - Annu Rev Sociol 1998 24:2556...

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Annu. Rev. Sociol. 1998. 24:25–56 Copyright © 1998 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved FUNDAMENTALISM ET AL: Conservative Protestants in America Robert D. Woodberry and Christian S. Smith Sociology Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3210; e-mail: [email protected] KEY WORDS: religious right, “culture wars,” family, tolerance, survey measurement ABSTRACT Since the rise of the religious right, scholars have become increasingly inter- ested in studying conservative Protestantism. Not only do conservative Prot- estants (CPs) make up at least a quarter of the US population; they differ from many Americans in gender-role attitudes, childrearing styles, political orientation, and other ways as well. In fact, religious factors often predict people’s political views better than do either class or gender, even though the latter two have received far more attention in the scholarly literature (Manza & Brooks 1997, Kellstedt et al 1996b). Unfortunately research in this area has been hampered by imprecise measurement and poor understanding of the various movements grouped together as CPs. This has muddied statistical re- sults, stifled theoretical development, and blinded researchers to promising areas of analysis. Thus, in this chapter we first discuss the history and distinc- tive qualities of the various CP movements, then we use these insights to pro- pose better survey measures, and finally we apply this knowledge to several substantive areas (i.e., gender-role attitudes, childrearing styles, tolerance, the “culture wars,” the religious right, and the reasons for the religious vital- ity of CP groups). PARAMETERS OF THIS CHAPTER Defining conservative Protestantism is difficult because conservative Protes- tants (CPs) belong to such a jumble of different denominations and movements, and they do not agree on any one label or set of beliefs (Dayton & Johnston 1991, Marsden 1987a, Kellstedt et al 1996a,c). To add to the confusion, many social scientists and journalists use the terms “fundamentalist,” “evangelical,” “born again,” “conservative Protestant,” and “religious right” indiscriminately without considering the differing meanings of these terms (Kellstedt & Smidt 1996). Survey researchers also employ widely varying measurement strategies, 0360-0572/98/0815-0025$08.00 25
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which can create seemingly contradictory results. Even the label “conserva- tive” Protestant is problematic. Although CPs are generally conservative on some theological issues, they are often innovative on others, breaking patterns of classical Protestant thought, creating new worship styles, etc. Their resis- tance to modernity is highly selective (Oldfield 1996, p. 49, Dayton 1991). Moreover, not all CPs are conservative politically. A sizable portion are Democrats and economically liberal (Hart 1992, Jelen 1987). If anything, the average white CP is more economically liberal than mainline Protestants. This is especially true for biblical literalists and members of holiness or Pentecostal
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12.2.Fundamentalism et al. - Annu Rev Sociol 1998 24:2556...

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