Over the last 125 years, evangelical protestantism has been dominating North American history. Today it’s one of the most important pillars of American religion as well as national ideology. According to a Study conducted in 2002 by the American Evangelicals of Wheaton College, 45% of American citizens proclaimed they were evangelists or born again Christians.
Pastors like Rick Warren, of the 22,000-member Saddleback megachurch in Lake Forest, California, lead a global network of more than 40,000 churches in tackling such issues as poverty, disease and ignorance. Colorado Springs, Colorado is home to the greatest concentration of fundamentalist Christian activist groups. This “holy city” is also home to the National Association of Evangelicals, headed by Pastor Ted Haggard, founder of New Life’s movement and leader of the nation’s most powerful religious lobbying group. The forty-eight year old Pastor talked to President George W. Bush every Monday. With Bush’s support, the influence of Christian churches, especially the evangelical church, has been increasing in economic, social and political fields.
The Patrick Henry College in Virginia aims to train a new generation of Christian politicians. When students enroll, they have to sign a ten-part statement of faith. Dating is regulated and submitted to parents’ approval. Most of the students major in government and find jobs at the White House, Congress and FBI. Diane Knippers, president of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy (I.R.D.), remains a powerful political influence and advisor in Washington D.C.
These are just some of the examples of the diverse arenas through which American evangelicals are making themselves heard. This project looks at the growing political and social influence of evangelicals in America, and attempts to chart the meaning of their increasingly vocal and influential place in American society.