Three stats and a map

Social gospel movement

The Brookings Institution has released Faith in Equality, a report detailing the struggles religious progressives face in dealing with economic injustice in the United States. The ecumenical report looks at the history of the social gospel movement and how the increasingly polarized nature of American politics has transformed what it means to be both religious and political.

According the report, religious progressives have yet to match religious conservatives in institutional organization because of the group’s inherent diversity: while progressives are able to come together for issues like poverty and immigration, they remain divided on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. The report looks at how this diversity both helps and hinders religious progressives’ political effectiveness when it comes to economic justice.

Key findings from the report:

  • Religious conservatives are more politically homogenous than religious progressives. Only 28 percent of Democrats describe themselves as religious progressives, and many of them report tension between themselves and secular progressives in their party. Meanwhile, religious conservatives make up 56 percent of the Republican Party.
  • Traditionally progressive Christian denominations are on the decline. In the 1970s, mainline Protestants made up 28-29 percent of American Christians. In 2008, only 13 percent of American Christians were mainline Protestants. In 2009, one in ten American adults considered themselves a “former Catholic.”
  • Most Americans agree with justice-based economic arguments. When asked if the government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, 63 percent of Americans agreed. Among Christians, 78 percent of black Protestants, 68 percent of Catholics, 49 percent of white mainline Protestants and 47 percent of white evangelicals agreed.

This Washington Post interactive map shows the growth of income inequality from 1977 to 2012.