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That explanation gains support from a poll (.pdf found here) reported this month by  the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. Yes, the committee is highly partisan and conservative, but the numbers are stark enough to command attention, including in a paywalled January 19 Wall Street Journal column.

The pollsters surveyed the general U.S. population last year, then compared the results with September sampling among just the “elites,” roughly 1% of Americans, who live in high-population ZIP codes and have graduate degrees and household incomes above $150,000. They pretty much dominate culture via higher education, the law, entertainment, “legacy” news media and, increasingly, the corporate clout of Big Business.

About half of these elite respondents attended just a dozen blueblood private universities (the eight Ivy League campuses plus Chicago, Duke, Northwestern, Stanford) and were similar to over-all elite opinion but moreso. Democrats — pay heed to the following.

* The elites by 74% said their personal finances are “getting better” vs. 20% for the general American population sample.

* The elites gave Democrat Joe Biden an 84% approval rating vs. 44% among Americans generally (currently a 38.8% average per vethirtyeight.com).

* The elites trust government to “do the right thing most of the time” by 70%, more than double the trust found among Americans generally.

* Only 21% of the elites thought the U.S. has “too much government control” vs. 57% of Americans generally.

* Elites by 77% favored “strict rationing of gas, meat and electricity” to “fight climate change,” vs. 28% of Americans generally. On outlawing gas-powered cars, 72% of the elites backed such legislation vs. 24% of Americans generally.

* Just under 80% of elites had favorable opinions of lawyers and journalists, vs 49% and 44% respectively among Americans generally.

* Only 26% of elites thought “parents need more control” over what their children are taught in school, vs. 45% of Americans generally.

Remember, these numbers show a chasm between a tiny elite and Americans in general. Try to imagine the gap between this elite niche and people in flyover country territory.

Next, The Guy recommends a depiction of the 21st Century spiritual innards of this movement posted January 17 with the headline “Reflections on the Evangelical Fracturing, Ten Years In.” Author Jake Meador, a member of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America, is editor-in-chief of the online magazine Mere Orthodoxy, a thoughtful young website self-described here.

Meador spins a complex saga of unhinged ministries and both extremism on the right and a leftward drift. One major theme is that over recent years evangelical leadership by well-seasoned Baby Boomers such as the late Tim Keller in New York City has given way to Gen Xers whose freewheeling ministries have a dangerous lack of outside accountability and essential spiritual maturity when at young ages they build huge platforms through niche social media.

His chief example is a typical 21st Century creation, the Acts 29 network, (contact via press@acts29.com) whose 700-plus independent congregations are known for pop appeal and a “complementarian” ban on women’s leadership. He cites in particular three star pastors at megachurches.

Acts co-founder Mark Driscoll’s Seattle ministry collapsed in 2014 amid accusations of abusive leadership and he now leads a new church near Phoenix. Acts President Matt Chandler stepped down in 2022 over a non-sexual but “inappropriate” online relationship outside marriage, then quickly returned to his Dallas-area church. Acts Vice President Darrin Patrick recovered and continued his ministry after similar accusations in St. Louis but then committed suicide in 2020.

Finally, The Guy has this media observation. The rancid evangelical scandals regularly reported by secular mainstream were often unearthed by Christian media. The independent Christianity Today and World magazines have long records of biting evangelical hands that feed them with courageous investigative reporting.

The secular media should also be monitoring young Christian muckrakers, in particular these three:

* The Roys Report, which e.g. reported January 17 on a “Bible Church” with this eye-popping headline: “Tennessee Pastor Who Allegedly Tried to Kill His Wife Plants New Church.”

* Ministry Watch, which e.g. last month examined tumult at Philadelphia evangelicals’ prominent Tenth Presbyterian Church.

* The Wartburg Watch, which e.g. posted an 8,500-worder January 19 on Boston’s Park Street Church, a historically venerated citadel in the evangelical empire. [Disclosure: The Guy’s daughter was a former member.]

We rarely see this sort of intense coverage about moderate and liberal “Mainline” Protestant groups. Are they purer than the conservatives?

More likely, they lack investigative outlets like those listed above. As in so many areas, U.S. evangelicalism has been notably moralistic, innovative, energetic and surprisingly bold in journalistic enterprise.

FIRST IMAGE: Screen shot from Today show coverage, via YouTube.

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