Public Religious Repertoires in the United States

“White Christian Nationalism isn’t the only way religious ideas influence politics and civic life. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Evan Stewart University of Massachusetts Boston Contact Me
Jack Delehanty Clark University Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

Since 2016, White Christian Nationalism (WCN), “the belief that the U.S. is—and should be—a Christian nation” (Whitehead and Perry 2020)—has interested researchers, journalists, and pundits wishing to explain why a majority of white evangelicals supported Trump and continue to do so. One of WCN’s most interesting aspects is that it draws on ideas rooted in Christianity without being anchored strictly in religious institutions. People do not necessarily learn WCN’s tenets in church, and it is not only evangelicals who embrace these ideas. Instead, WCN is a public religious repertoire: a spilling-out of ideas into the broader public sphere, where actors use them in different ways (Delehanty, Edgell, and Stewart 2019). While WCN is important, we believe that Americans also respond to other public religious repertoires evident in qualitative, field-based research but not yet identified in surveys. This work suggests that Social Gospel and Secularist repertoires also infuse public debate with a range of religious ideas that are glossed over by the common, but overly simplistic, distinction between the “religious right” and the “secular left.” We are applying for funds to investigate this hypothesis by fielding a nationally-representative pilot survey that prompts respondents to evaluate statements rooted in other public religious repertoires.