W. Bradford Wilcox on America’s Evangelicals Survey

Read the comments of sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox on R&E’s national survey of America’s evangelicals:

This survey indicates that average evangelicals are deeply concerned about the moral health of the nation. Numerous observers have connected this concern to increased evangelical Protestant participation in politics. But this survey also suggests that evangelicals are as concerned about what happens in their own homes as they are about what happens in the U.S. House of Representatives. Evangelicals are seeking to change the moral climate both in the public and the private spheres.

Faced with a culture they see as debased and debasing, evangelical parents are devoting more attention to their families. One way they are doing this is by monitoring the media their children encounter. This survey, for instance, indicates that evangelical parents are more likely than other parents to prevent their children from watching objectionable shows (76% versus 54%) and playing violent video games (61% versus 47%).

Evangelicals are also investing more time and attention to parenting than many American parents. In my research, I find similarly high patterns of parental oversight and involvement among evangelicals when it comes to curfews, youth activities such as the Boy Scouts, and one-on-one activities such as reading to one’s children.

As this survey indicates, a clear majority of evangelical parents believe that too many children in the U.S. are not learning the right values. By focusing on their families, they are trying to ensure that their children acquire the values they worry other children don’t have.

W. Bradford Wilcox is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and the author of SOFT PATRIARCHS, NEW MEN: HOW CHRISTIANITY SHAPES FATHERS AND HUSBANDS (University of Chicago Press, 2004).