A correspondent in New York reports that one of the local magazines proclaims that city “the one-child-family capital of the United States.” That illustrates why the influence of American metropole will continue to fall.
The demographic shift in favor of “red” (Republican) versus “blue” (Democratic) states helped President George W. Bush win last week’s election, American commentators have observed. What we have observed thus far is only the thin end of an enormous wedge. Religious (“red”) Americans will continue to have children, and secular (“blue”) Americans will continue to extinguish themselves.
That America is two nations has become a commonplace. But what is the destiny of these two nations? Demographics is destiny, said August Comte, and the demographics of “blue” America closely resemble the dying Europe with which the “blues” identify. “Red” America, characterized first of all by evangelical Christianity, is thriving.
“Where will the children of the future come from? They will come disproportionately from people who are at odds with the modern environment … or who, out of fundamentalist or chauvinist conviction … reject the game altogether,” wrote Phillip Longman in The Empty Cradle (review, Faith, fertility and American dominance, September 8). “The religiously minded generally have bigger families than do secularists. In the United States, for example, fully 47% of people who attend church weekly say that the ideal family size is three or more children, as opposed to only 27% of those who seldom attend church.”
Surging evangelical participation in last Tuesday’s vote surprised the Democrats (‘It’s the culture, stupid’, November 5). That was not the beginning of the end for the Democrats, but (in Winston Churchill’s words) the beginning of the beginning. America’s population will change and its politics will change as well. Twenty years from now the US religious majority may have a super-majority at all levels of government.
The liberal dystopia has no room for children. Homosexuals, the vanguard of liberated culture, have none, and heterosexuals preoccupied with cutting-edge sexual experimentation have few. The coastal metropolitan regions that gave John Kerry overwhelming support in last week’s election resemble Western Europe in some respects (although they attract far more talented immigrants than ever Europe will). The population of New York City will not shrink as fast as Frankfurt’s, but the direction is similar.
Take this simple calculation: 44% of the US population of 285 million as of the year 2000 census were evangelical (or “born again”) Christians, according to an August 2000 Gallup poll. Let us assume that these 125 million evangelicals average three children per family during the next generation, and that the non-evangelical population averages 1.6 children per family. Within one generation (assuming a 0.5% death rate for both groups), evangelicals will form a majority of 61% of the population. This does not take into account the higher birthrate of devout Catholics, who tend toward social conservatism.
These are simplistic calculations, but it will not take long for the professionals to produce more accurate ones. Like the French and German general staffs before World War I, the strategists of both US political parties will spend the next four years analyzing demographic tables. Apart from the evangelical surge, the failure of the “youth vote” to buoy the Democratic side was another election surprise. In the future, the youth vote will belong increasingly to the Republicans.
Is that far-fetched? On the contrary, it already is happening. Eighty-five percent of Americans profess Christianity. “Born-again” denominations showed enormous growth during the past generation, while so-called “mainline” (and liberal-leaning) denominations have hollowed out. Catholics have increased, in large measure due to Hispanic immigration.
The table below shows the change in membership of Christian denominations since 1960: Membership in Major American Christian Denomination (1,000’s).
Professor Robert Wuthnow of the Brookings Institution has argued that higher birthrates explain the surging numbers of parishioners at evangelical churches as well as the shrinking count of liberal (or “mainline”) Protestants. The fading liberal denominations ordain homosexual bishops, support income distribution and sympathize with the Palestinians. The growing evangelical denominations support traditional morality, favor entrepreneurship and identify with Israel.
Those who were horrified by the religious character of the US presidential election had better grow a tougher hide. That, the available evidence shows, only was the beginning.