RNS Press Release Service

The Varieties of American Evangelicalism — new report from the USC Center for Religion & Civic Culture

A report on the diversity of evangelical political engagement
ahead of the midterm elections

Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency has brought the culture, fault-lines and political commitments of American evangelicalism into sharp relief. Dissatisfied with the lack of nuanced explorations of evangelicals, the Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) at the University of Southern California set out to describe five different “types” of American evangelical political engagement.

Ahead of the 2018 Midterm elections, CRCC is pleased to present “The Varieties of American Evangelicalism.” In this report, each of the five “types” of American evangelicals include a description of who they are, what their core beliefs are, when they formed, why they believe what they do, where they are located and how they operate. CRCC also provides examples of notable figures in each category and links for further reading.

The five “varieties” of American evangelicals include:

The most vocal—or at least the most visible group of evangelicals right now, Trump-vangelicals are the continuation of the efforts of the Religious Right to bring political power to bear to further the aims of white evangelicalism.

No less theologically or politically conservative than Trump-vangelicals, Neo-fundamentalist evangelicals maintain a purist approach toward whom they will cooperate with in achieving their aims.

Primarily concentrated in the evangelical megachurch movement, iVangelicals focus on reaching large numbers of people through their popular worship services, varied social programs and small group ministries.

Kingdom Christians
Kingdom Christians are focused on building the Kingdom of God on earth by creating diverse relationships in the local community and shaping human development policy through engagement with local officials, regardless of those officials’ political or religious affiliation.

Peace and Justice
Peace and Justice evangelicals are a loose network of pastors, non-profit leaders, professors, and activists who focus their work on issues of poverty, racial justice, gender equality, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, war and militarism and “creation care.”

CRCC hopes this guide will be useful to journalists, pundits and members of the public interested in having a clearer picture of the relationship between religion and politics than is provided in many media descriptions of religious actors on the American political scene. While not exhaustive, our typology demonstrates the range of American evangelicalism and the significant differences among believers.



Megan Sweas
(847) 331-2173