Fixing the State of the Research on American Evangelicals

“We would like to improve how scholars identify evangelical Christians in public opinion surveys by comparing belief-based measures designed by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) with measures already available on the 2020 General Social Survey (GSS), which capture survey respondents’ denominational affiliations and willingness to self-identify as evangelical. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Melissa J. Wilde University of Pennsylvania Contact Me
Michele Margolis University of Pennsylvania Contact Me

About this award

How we identify evangelicals in public opinion surveys is both incredibly difficult and crucially important. Common measures of evangelicalism, which include self-identification, denominational affiliation, or belief adherenceFixing the State of the Research on American Evangelicals, have both strengths and drawbacks. Moreover, these different strategies have the potential to capture widely different populations because each approach taps into a different aspect of evangelical identity. The main goal of this project is to explore how different ways of identifying evangelicals in surveys changes our understanding about evangelicals’ beliefs, attitudes, outlooks, and behaviors. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has proposed a set of questions that may prove to become the gold standard when it comes to identifying evangelicals. However, researchers have not embraced this measure as of yet. This proposal seeks funding to examine the NAE measure in concert with the other measures that are already, or have previously been, on the General Social Survey (GSS). By incorporating religious beliefs into our measurement strategy of evangelical Christians, scholars will gain a more nuanced understanding of evangelical Christians in the United States.