Evangelicals and the Continental Divide

Evangelicals and the Continental Divide: The Conservative Protestant Subculture in Canada and the United States

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Evangelicals and the Continental Divide
    Book Description:

    Using data obtained from 118 in-depth interviews with evangelicals in both countries as well as a representative poll of 3,000 Canadians and 3,000 Americans, Reimer details the inner workings of the evangelical subculture and gives us an understanding of evangelical similarities and differences across the two nations.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7133-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Examining Evangelicals in Canada and the US
    (pp. 3-21)

    Two stories illustrate a common Canadian attitude towards American evangelicals. The first story received significant press coverage in Canada. On 8 July 2000, Stockwell Day became the leader of the recently formed Canadian Alliance Party, Canada’s official opposition. Day is unabashed about his evangelical faith and his social and fiscal conservatism. The 8 July run-off featured another evangelical, party founder Preston Manning, son of radio evangelist and one-time Albertan premier Ernest Manning, whom Day defeated soundly by a sixty-three-to-thirty-seven percent margin. About a month later, a journalist from the TorontoGlobe and Mail,a national newspaper, contacted me. “Are we...

  6. 2 Evangelicalism and the Continental Divide
    (pp. 22-40)

    The late Canadian historian G.A. Rawlyk, himself an evangelical, spent the winter of 1994–95 in South Carolina writing his bookIs Jesus Your Personal Saviour? in which he sought to capture the essence of Canadian evangelicalism in the 1990s. Rawlyk expected to find the southern evangelical-fundamentalist environment of South Carolina conducive to his work; instead he found the atmosphere “depressing and profoundly alienating” (1996,7). The tirades of fundamentalist televangelists and the right-wing polemics of southern churches made him want to distance himself not only from southern evangelicals but from evangelicalism in general. As he immersed himself in his research,...

  7. 3 A Distinctive Evangelical Subculture?
    (pp. 41-54)

    Evangelicals are known to be distinctive in North America, and much of what is considered distinctive about evangelicals is less than complimentary. According to Smith, “The dominant image that many nonevangelical Americans hold of American evangelicals can be characterized as contentiously exclusivist, self-congratulatory, and intolerant of diversity. And many of the spokespeople for the Christian Right certainly provide evidence to substantiate that view” (2000, 21). Smith dedicates his book to refuting these stereotypes, arguing for a more ambivalent, tolerant, and nonthreatening rank-and-file evangelical. He demonstrates the importance of listening to evangelicals themselves to gain a clear picture of what they...

  8. 4 Evangelical Religious Experience
    (pp. 55-71)

    Religious experience has played a central role in the emergence and growth of evangelicalism in North America. Many of the revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that shaped modern evangelicalism were characterized by intense religious experiences. The leaders of these revivals – Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Finney, Alline, and others – spoke of “being ravished by a divine ecstasy” and overwhelmed by “a lively sense of the excellency of Christ” (cited in Rawlyk and Noll 1994, 17). The displays of frenzied behaviour that typified some US camp meetings and revivals were not as common north of the border, but the...

  9. 5 Orthodoxy: Evangelical Beliefs and Morals
    (pp. 72-102)

    In his various works, James Davison Hunter has focused on the maintenance of evangelical orthodoxy in light of modernity (Jelen 1990). Hunter argues that evangelicals distinguish themselves from other religious groups on theological grounds.¹ For this reason, beliefs are fundamentally important to the maintenance of boundaries. “Evangelicalism shares with the larger Protestant phenomenon a fixation with theology,” he states. “Yet its concern is far more intense. Not only do Evangelicals distinguish themselves from other religions this way, they also distinguish themselves from liberal Protestants this way. Orthodoxy, strictly speaking, is a theological matter” (1987, 19)

    For Hunter, not only beliefs...

  10. 6 Orthopraxy: Evangelical Practice and Commitment
    (pp. 103-117)

    Evangelicals are orthodox, but theirs is an “engaged orthodoxy,” argue Emerson and Smith (2000). Evangelicals want to influence the larger culture and society around them. Faith to them is not simply a personal religious preference. Instead, they seek societal transformation, through corporate action, like political-moral campaigning, and through individual action, such as witnessing. Furthermore, evangelical faith has expectations for personal religious behaviour, including church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer.

    Evangelicals in Canada and the US distinguish themselves from other religious traditions by their high levels of religious practice (Kellstedt et al. 1993; Bibby 1993). According to the God and Society...

  11. 7 The Forty-Ninth Parallel and Evangelical Differences
    (pp. 118-151)

    To this point, the evidence I have presented suggests that there is minimal variation in the religiosity of evangelicals in different regions of North America. However, the core evangelicals I interviewed disagree with this conclusion. Their perception was that evangelicals vary from region to region. Those in the southern US are more legalistic, more conservative, and possibly less committed, according to some evangelicals in the northern US and in Canada. To them, the Mason-Dixon line is a significant boundary. Some Canadian evangelicals view their American counterparts as more fundamentalist and legalistic, more extreme politically and morally, more expressive in worship,...

  12. 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 152-162)

    This book is not the first analysis of evangelicalism in the US or in Canada, but it is the first sociological comparison of the two. Furthermore, it employs new strategies. What is new about this book is the approach used to develop the themes ofsubcultureandgeographic variation,introduced in chapter 1 and interwoven throughout. Thesubculturetheme focused on core evangelicals, who are best suited to reveal the inner workings of the evangelical subculture. The question of subculture delves into the characteristics of North American evangelicalism.Geographic variationis comparative in nature. Comparing evangelicals in similar but not...

  13. APPENDIX ONE Core Evangelical Sample
    (pp. 165-185)
  14. APPENDIX TWO The 1996 God and Society Poll
    (pp. 186-188)
  15. APPENDIX THREE Alternative Causes of Variation
    (pp. 189-196)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 197-212)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-226)
  18. Index
    (pp. 227-232)