Testing hypotheses derived from church-sect theory and contemporary research about changes in evangelical Protestants' social status, I use repeated cross-sectional survey data spanning almost four decades to examine changes in the social-class hierarchy of American religious traditions. While there is little change in the social-class position of white evangelical Protestants from the early 1970s to 2010, there is considerable change across birth cohorts. Results from hierarchical age-period-cohort models show: (1) robust, across-cohort declines in social-class differences between white evangelical Protestants and liberal Protestants, affiliates of "other" religions, and the unaffiliated, (2) stability in social-class differences between white evangelical Protestants and moderate, Pentecostal, and nondenominational Protestants, (3) moderate across-cohort growth in social-class differences between white evangelical Protestants and Catholics, and (4) these patterns vary across indicators of social class. The findings in this article provide partial support for church-sect theory as well as other theories of social change that emphasize the pivotal role of generations.
- Evangelical protestant
- Social change
- Social class
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science