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Are Young Evangelicals More Liberal Than Their Parents

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

There is a common idea today that young evangelicals are liberating themselves from conservatism, but is that true?

The young, restless, and… liberal? Are younger evangelicals really more left-leaning than their parents? The easy answer is, “Of course they are! Look at how many of them are voting for pot legalization and driving those tiny cars!”

But not so fast—the swerve into liberalism may not be as drastic as we think, according to a study from 2010 conducted by Buster Smith and Byron Johnson of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University.

Smith and Johnson began their research with a couple of hypotheses: Young (18-29 year old) evangelicals are less likely to associate with the Republican Party than older evangelicals and young evangelicals are more likely to self-identify as liberal than older evangelicals.

They found some fascinating data that shows young evangelicals may not be as liberal as we think.

Are Young Evangelicals Less Likely to Associate with the Republican Party?

As we stated above, the first hypothesis Smith and Johnson had was that young evangelicals were less likely to associate with the Republican Party. Is that true? Not really, no.

Here are some key stats:

  • 55% of young evangelicals identify with the Republican Party, 24% as Independent, and 20% with the Democratic Party
  • 63% of old evangelicals identify with the Republican Party, 15% as Independent, and 22% with the Democratic Party

It is interesting to see a higher percentage of young evangelicals identifying as Independents, perhaps signaling a hesitation to carry the “Republican” label. Regardless, it’s fascinating to note there are actually more Democratic old evangelicals than Democratic young evangelicals.

Here are the stats for the political affiliations of self-identified non-evangelicals by age:

  • 21% of young non-evangelicals identify with the Republican Party, 26% as Independent, and 54% with the Democratic Party

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