Additional Commentary on JC Weatherby’s ‘American Taliban’ Article
Determining the exact percentage of a religious denomination among a total population isn’t exactly a hard science, since most of the data collection regarding religious affiliation is done through questionnaires and studies of a geographical history of a given region. Having said that, the Pew Research Center estimates that about 25% of the population of the United States identifies as being Evangelical Protestants (based on a survey of 35,000 people), making them the largest denomination of Christianity in the U.S.
For perspective, 70% of the population identifies as being Christian (including the 25% for Evangelicals). Catholicism is the second largest denomination among Christians at 20%, and Mainline Protestantism is third at 15%.
What these numbers do prove is that the evangelical protestant base is not a minority fringe group, and perhaps living in the relatively secular Northeast shields us from the reality of the views these people hold, and protects us from the realization of how large of a group this is. Assuming that the percentages obtained by the survey were consistent with a sample size consisting of the entire population of the United States (approx. 319 million according to the 2014 census), about 80 million U.S. citizens could be considered Evangelical. But, that’s an assumption, and any available data about this sort of thing isn’t completely accurate to begin with.
And, as the above link about Evangelical Protestantism indicates, they’ve been around for a pretty long time. For added perspective, about 23% of Americans identify as religiously unaffiliated, while an additional 16% identify as having no particular set of religious beliefs.
If Evangelicals want to establish private schools whose educational resources are derived entirely from private funding (like the Jehovah’s Witnesses do, who account for a mere .8% of the total Christian population), they are more than welcome to do that. If so much as one shred of their funding is coming from any part of the public trough, however, they need to be opened up to public scrutiny and held to educational standards that don’t conflict with constitutional values.
If they plan to institute a Christ-based curriculum on public schools nationwide, then they are overstepping their constitutional boundaries. The flip-side of this argument held by strict conservatives is that since the curriculum of public education, for the most part, is rooted in secular humanism, their tax dollars are funding a public education system who’s perceived atheist indoctrination is just as egregious as any form of religious brainwashing.
I find the latter argument to be weaker, though, since science classrooms should be focusing on the history and methodologies of science, not encouraging or dismissing the belief in the the existence of a creator. Those topics don’t belong in the science classroom. They’re fine subjects for theology and philosophy classes, if, of course, the cities have the funding for those kinds of courses.