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The Young and the Restless? The Liberalization of Young Evangelicals


Justin Farrell, Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame, 819 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail:


This study examines popular and scholarly perceptions that young American evangelicals are becoming more liberal than older evangelicals. Young evangelicals are more likely to have more liberal attitudes on same-sex marriage, premarital sex, cohabitating, and pornography, but not abortion. This analysis is situated within the theoretical context of emerging adulthood, and considers higher education, delayed marriage, and shifts in moral authority as potential mediating factors accounting for age differences. A new method for operationalizing evangelical as a religious identity is suggested and three different classification schemes are examined: religious tradition, self-identified evangelicals, and theologically conservative Protestants. The data come from the 2006 Panel Study of American Religion and Ethnicity.