Fortress Press

20 Myths about Religion and Politics in America

20 Myths about Religion and Politics in America

Ryan P. Burge (Author)


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The way most people think about religion and politics is only loosely linked to empirical reality, argues Ryan P. Burge in 20 Myths about Religion and Politics in America. Instead, our thinking is based on anecdotes, a quick scan of news headlines, or worse, flat-out lies told by voices trying to push a religious or political agenda on a distracted public.

Burge sees this fundamentally flawed understanding of the world around us and our misperceptions about where we fit into the larger fabric of society as caustic for the future of American politics and religion. Without an accurate picture of our society, when we subscribe to only caricatures of what our country looks like, we never really address the problems facing us.

Striving to be an impartial referee, Burge describes with accessible and engaging prose--and illustrates with dozens of clear, helpful graphs--what the data says. Step by step, he debunks twenty myths, using rigorous data analysis and straightforward explanations. He gives readers the resources to adopt an empirical view of the world that can help all of us, religious and nonreligious alike, get past at least some of the unsupported beliefs that divide us.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506482019
  • eBook ISBN 9781506482026
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 249
  • Publication Date March 1, 2022


"Burge's books and articles are truly essential."

Perry Bacon Jr., The Washington Post

"There is nothing like facts to get in the way of our opinions, and I'm especially a fan of Ryan Burge's ability to blow the lid off of cherished but mistaken thinking. Each of these twenty myths is worthy of debunking."

Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

"Americans love bad statistics--particularly the kind that prove what we already feel. But math does not care about our feelings, so sometimes we need a reminder of the facts. Ryan Burge's 20 Myths about Religion and Politics in America is just the book we need to set the record straight and help us better understand the facts today."

Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College

"Burge's straightforward writing and artful presentation of data cut through many of the misconceptions that plague our national dialogue about politics and religion. Can a clearer understanding of the facts help with such polarizing topics? There is only one way to find out."

Arthur E. Farnsley II, the Project on Religion and Urban Culture 2

Table of Contents


Introduction The Facts Are In

1 Evangelicalism is in decline.

2 Donald Trump wasn't the choice of religiously devout Republicans.

3 Most Americans have strong views about abortion--but are willing to change their minds about it.

4 Researchers are biased toward Christians.

5 College leads young people away from religion.

6 Nondenominational Christians are rare.

7 Born-again experiences are common and dramatically change a person's life.

8 You have to go to church frequently to be an evangelical.

9 The personal faith of a presidential candidate can activate part of the electorate.

10 People return to religion late in life.

11 Abortion is the most important issue for evangelical voters.

12 White evangelicals agree with the Republican party only on social issues.

13 Most Catholics and evangelicals do not support women in leadership.

14 White Christians have always been conservative Republicans.

15 The growth of the nones is largely from people leaving church.

16 America is much less religious today than a few decades ago.

17 Black Protestants are political liberals.

18 Mainline Protestants are politically liberal.

19 Young evangelicals are more politically moderate than older evangelicals.

20 Pastors often discuss politics from the pulpit.

Conclusion: A Better Path