The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America

Edited by James Hudnut-Beumler and Mark Silk

Columbia University Press

The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America

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Pub Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780231183611

248 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780231183604

248 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780231545037

248 Pages

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List Price: $29.99£24.00

The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America

Edited by James Hudnut-Beumler and Mark Silk

Columbia University Press

As recently as the 1960s, more than half of all American adults belonged to just a handful of mainline Protestant denominations—Presbyterian, UCC, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and American Baptist. Presidents, congressmen, judges, business leaders, and other members of the elite overwhelmingly came from such backgrounds. But by 2010, fewer than 13 percent of adults belonged to a mainline Protestant church. What does the twenty-first century hold for this once-hegemonic religious group?

In this volume, experts in American religious history and the sociology of religion examine the extraordinary decline of mainline Protestantism over the past half century and assess its future. Contributors discuss the demographics of mainline Protestants; their beliefs, practices, and modes of worship; their political views and partisan affiliations; and the social and moral questions that unite and divide Protestant communities. Other chapters examine Protestant institutions, including providers of health care and education; analyze churches’ public voice; and probe what will come from a diminished role relative to other groups in society, especially the ascendant evangelicals. Far from going extinct, the book argues, the mainline Protestant movement will continue to be a vital remnant in an American religious culture torn between the contending forces of secularism and evangelicalism.
Mainline Protestantism never outgrew its ethnic families of origin and it suffered a breathtaking fall from fifty percent to ten percent of the population. Yet it remains a constructive and influential force in American life. This splendid book lucidly, cogently, and judiciously captures both sides of this story and picture, making a valuable contribution. Gary Dorrien, Columbia University
For at least two decades, scholars have been addressing the presumed decline of mainline Protestantism in the United States. But mainline Protestantism refuses to disappear. Thus, what The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America proffers, namely a look at the future of mainline Protestantism, is timely indeed. Charles Lippy, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
A timely collection, The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America synthesizes a great deal of recent scholarship in a way that will speak to a wide audience of students and scholars alike. It will make a positive contribution to the wider field of American religion, in particular, to the fields of sociology of religion, history of American Christianity, and religion in American culture. Christopher Evans, Boston University
With precision, clarity, and balance, these authors explore many facets of the well-known but less well understood mainline tradition. The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America offers facts, a guide to pertinent literature, a survey of history, and predictions about coming challenges and opportunities—all highly relevant to conversations about religion in American culture. Elesha J. Coffman, author of The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline
Series Editors’ Introduction: The Future of Religion in America, by Mark Silk and Andrew H. Walsh
Introduction, by James Hudnut-Beumler
1. The State of Contemporary Mainline Protestantism, by Graham Reside
2. The Beliefs and Practices of Mainline Protestants, by David Bains
3. Futures for Mainline Protestant Institutions, by Maria Erling
4. A Divided House, by Daniel Sack
5. The Mainline and the Soul of International Relations, by Andrew H. Walsh
Conclusion: The Quakerization of Mainline Protestantism, by James Hudnut-Beumler
Appendix A: American Religious Identification Survey: Research Design
Appendix B: American Religious Identification Survey: Future of Religion in America Survey
Appendix C: American Religious Identification Survey: Typology of Religious Groups
List of Contributors
Index

About the Author

Mark Silk (PhD, Medieval History, Harvard) is Professor of Religion in Public Life and Director of the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College. He is the author of Spiritual Politics: Religion and America Since World War II (Simon & Schuster, 1988), Unseular Media: Making News of Religion in America (Illinois, 1995), and (with Andrew Walsh) One Nation Divisible: How Regional Religious Differences Shape American Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), among other titles. He is the coeditor (with Andrew Walsh) of The Future of Religion in America series (Columbia), editor of the newletter Religion in the News, and editor of the blog Spiritual Politics; former positions include editor of The Boston Review and staff writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.