First, let me tell you all that reading this book on the bus or train or generally in public made me weirdly nervous: it felt like it the title could be misread as an alarmist book about how scary the end of white Christian America would be, and I didn’t want people to think I was some deplorable. I was very tempted to attach a little note below the title that said “Would Be Great!” or “I Support This!” or something. Instead I ended up always reading it with the cover down. Anxiety is a ridiculous thing.
Anyway. I was drawn in by the thesis of this book, which generally speaking is that white Christian (specifically Protestant) America’s influence is on the decline, especially the influence of evangelical Protestantism. Throughout the book, Jones differentiates between mainline (stereotypically more liberal) and evangelical (stereotypically more conservative) Protestantism, and argues that the former is becoming even more liberal and accepting while the latter is digging further into conservative policies and therefore causing its own decline.
All arguments made in the book are well backed up with facts and very informative, well-laid out charts. Jones has clearly done his research and knows his stuff. But I dearly wish I could believe his central thesis, that this decline will continue, was true. While it’s clear from the book that the decline of influence is real, observing current events seems to show that the decline has come to a standstill and the influence of extremely conservative evangelical beliefs is on the rise. The book being out right around the time of Trump’s presidency does not help with this perception at all. One is left feeling like the book is overly optimistic, which is in no way the fault of the author. There’s a post-script that addresses the Trump presidency, but without corresponding data available, it was of little comfort.