Author cites stats to claim evangelicalism is on the wane

The Fall of the

Evangelical Nation

By Christine Wicker.

HarperCollins. 240 pages. $25.

The author, a former reporter who covered religion and other beats for The Dallas Morning News, throws her best punch with her first sentence: “Evangelical Christianity in America is dying.” The rest is nuance and numbers, woven around compelling anecdotes.

The nuance: She defines “evangelical” as what most people would call the religious right.

The numbers: Largely using statistics supplied by the groups themselves, she makes a strong case that they represent no more than 7 percent of adult Americans and that the percentage is shrinking.

Her premise matters, she says, because evangelicals should not command the degree of power or influence their image has seemed to justify.

The book is strongest when she's laying out her numbers and introducing us to people. Her speculative attempts to enlist sociology, neuropsychology and evolutionary biology to explain the drop in evangelical numbers are less convincing.

Jeffrey Weiss, Dallas Morning News