Why Do So Many White Evangelicals Fear Becoming a Minority?

Population demographics are interesting things.

At one time there were no white people on this continent, then there were a few, and then the population of what would become the United States became majority white. Now the numbers are shifting again, and some people say it’s cause for concern. As the Washington Post reported:

More than half — 52 percent — of white evangelical Protestants say a majority of the U.S. population being nonwhite will be a negative development, according to the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic.

The article notes that whites in the U.S. will constitute a minority of 49.9% by 2045. That means people of color will be in the majority, and 52% of white evangelicals say it’s not good. I hope that by the year 2045 that attitude will be relegated to the dustbin, but in the meantime allow me to open their eyes a bit.

In my state whites are already in the minority, and at a much lower percentage than the projected nationwide number coming up in 2045.

Yet California is thriving. It has cultural richness that defies the imagination, the fifth largest economy in the world (not in the nation, but in the world), a world-class public university system, and natural beauty ranging from the beaches to the mountains, from the deserts to the alpine lakes, from the redwood forests to the Joshua trees.

My hometown coastline.

Some might think they’re able to point out California’s shortcomings, but they don’t know them as well as I do; I was born in San Francisco and this state has been my home ever since. The shifting population demographics have not caused those shortcomings, though, as they existed for decades while the white majority was firmly in place.

Frankly, I think many of those evangelicals who say whites in a minority status would be a “negative development” (a lukewarm phrase for such an insidious position) might have a much more personal stake in mind.  Perhaps they’ve seen how minority populations are treated in this country and the prospect of getting there themselves scares them silly. Still, I am hoping the 52% of white evangelicals will reconsider based on the evidence from my state.

Even more, I hope they realize their position is ungodly because it denies the reality of the people of God, who are more diverse than the fears of the 52% will allow. The people of God are great in variety, and living among such diversity now is a blessing that reflects the reality of what we will all enjoy in the new creation.

After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands. They cried out with a loud voice:

“Victory belongs to our God
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10.)

This is the family of God, joining together in worship to honor Jesus.

I want to join in too, and as a matter of fact I had the blessing of doing just that when I was welcomed into this church in Kolkata for their Christmas service. Here is a brief snippet of how they worship in song during the English language service (English is just one of the eight languages they conduct services in every week).

Come, let us worship together.


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11 Responses to Why Do So Many White Evangelicals Fear Becoming a Minority?

  1. Maybe fear of the unknown is a factor?

  2. Linn says:

    A few years ago a pastor at my church asked (context was Ecclesiastes and the “good ‘ol days) what was so great about the 1950s.There was a gasp through the mostly white congregation. He went on to mention A-bombs, the Korean War, Jim Crow, the McCarthy hearings…but people like to think that certain things, like a “white majority”, are he good ‘ol days. Also, for those who are more traditional, California seems like a caricature of everything they don’t want in life. Several of my family members have already fled the state (I’m a Californian) due to all the “color.” I love it.

    • Tim says:

      It’s like people live in the fantasy of the All in the Family theme song “Those Were the Days.” They weren’t.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But the song does explain why Archie Bunker is the way he is.
        The world has changed around him, in some scary ways, and he’s lashing out.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’m going to have to “flee the state” when I retire.
      Taxes and Prices too high, cities too congested, and the Corruption of Righteousness in most all the High Places.

  3. roscuro says:

    I want to ask, when I read such demographic predictions, what is this nebulous thing called white? Take the Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan, or the Berbers of North Africa. They are technically ‘white’, if by that we mean people that produce little melanin pigment in their skin cells, and have a variety of eye colours including blue, and hair shades including blond. But somehow I don’t think they would be welcomed by the type of evangelical who worries about a demographic shift away from a ‘white’ majority.

  4. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    Thank you for these insights, Tim. I think there is maybe a sense of entitlement: we’ve worked hard for what we have and we don’t want to share it with people who (in our opinion) are less deserving, didn’t work as hard as us, just want handouts, etc.etc. There is a scarcity mentality in effect a lot of the time, I think. Perhaps if we all truly understood our lives as all grace, all gift, we wouldn’t be so protective of what’s “ours.”

    • Tim says:

      Good points. In reality, my “entitlement” is really just that I was born in California. So we’re a ton of other people. The again, I’m also born to a family that came here from somewhere else, if you follow it back. Entitlement seems such a fungible concept in that light.

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