Rock of Ages

Subcultural Religious Identity and Public Opinion among Young Evangelicals

Jeremiah J. Castle
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1722-0
Publication: Aug 19

HC: $104.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1721-3
Publication: Aug 19

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1723-7
Publication: Aug 19

236 pages
6 x 9
14 tables, 44 figs.

Are young evangelicals becoming more liberal?

Read a blog entry by the author

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Evangelicals and Republicans have been powerful—and active—allies in American politics since the 1970s. But as public opinions have changed, are young evangelicals’ political identities and attitudes on key issues changing too? And if so, why? In Rock of Ages, Jeremiah Castle answers these questions to understand their important implications for American politics and society.

Castle develops his own theory of public opinion among young evangelicals to predict and explain their political attitudes and voting behavior. Relying on both survey data and his own interviews with evangelical college students, he shows that while some young evangelicals may be more liberal in their attitudes on some issues, most are just as firmly Republican, conservative, and pro-life on abortion as the previous generation.

Rock of Ages considers not only what makes young evangelicals different from the previous generation, but also what that means for both the church and American politics.


"Castle’s work considers group dynamics and identity politics, highlighting the salience of evangelical influence and the power of in-grouping and out-grouping. In doing so, he correctly notes the intimate and dynamic connection between evangelicalism and the Republican party’s brand of cultural conservatism.... Throughout the book, Castle’s theory about subculture and public opinion (the way change occurs) animates his larger thesis about socio-political leanings of young people.... Castle’s study provides more useful data that further confirms the prickly connections between politics, religion, public opinion, and the ‘teenage mind.'"
—Politics, Religion & Ideology

"(A) comprehensive overview of the politics of a religious group that is often misunderstood by the media.... Castle has written a highly readable book. The main findings...are interesting. Furthermore, the book provides brisk overviews of many of the basic elements of evangelical politics."
— Political Science Quarterly

"Castle has put together a meticulously researched study, based on polling statistics, that looks at the changing trends among the youth of the evangelical movement in the US.... Castle approaches his subject issue by issue, including the subculture’s own understanding of Christianity. This leads to a detailed analysis of the particular historical movement of Evangelicals on numerous fronts.... Summing Up: Recommended."
— Choice

"For students of religion and politics, Rock of Ages will surely be a definitive reference for comparing public opinion and political behavior of evangelical and nonevangelicals across age groups. Name the issue, attitude, or behavior, and you will find documentation of the relevant comparisons in this book.... In Rock of Ages we have a very insightful analysis of the reasons why a political reversal among white evangelicals has not come to pass."
— Perspectives on Politics

"Castle mobilizes an impressive collection of surveys from sociology, political science, and interdisciplinary social sciences to outline patterns in Evangelical youth opinions on political issues over time. At the same time, Castle briefly utilizes a collection of in-depth interviews with Evangelical youth about political topics to supplement—or provide context as stated in the text—for the survey analyses.... The work may provide useful context and background information for interactionist studies seeking to ascertain patterns of continuity and change in relation to shifting social norms as well as analyses of how people do religion, politics, and generational norms in their own lives."
—Symbolic Interaction

In Rock of Ages, Castle seeks to address the issue of the extent to which young evangelicals may—or may not—diverge from older evangelicals in terms of their political attitudes and behavior. Though others have addressed this subject, this book is the most thorough work related to the topic, clearly and distinctively argued, with ample data and direct explanations as well as nuanced interpretations of the resultant findings.”
Corwin E. Smidt, Senior Research Fellow at the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Calvin College, and author of American Evangelicals Today

Castle has written the definitive study of the politics of young evangelicals. Broad in scope and detailed in depth, this work is carefully researched and thoughtfully analyzed. Finding evidence of change and stasis in the political opinions of young evangelicals, this research explains how those young evangelicals most immersed in that subculture are most likely to politicize their religious identities. As Millennials become an ever-larger segment of the electorate, Rock of Ages is essential reading to understand how religion and age intersect at politics.
Andrea C. Hatcher, Professor and Chair, Department of Politics at the University of the South, and author of Political and Religious Identities of British Evangelicals

"Castle has made good use of the U.S. General Social survey and the Pew Religious Landscape Study, among other datasets, in order to address the question of religious identity and politics among evangelical Christians in the US, in particular the millennial generation.... Many of the reported findings are insightful, if rather unsurprising."
— Journal of Contemporary Religion

Table of Contents

Introduction: Two Big Questions about Young Evangelicals

Part I Trends in Public Opinion among Young Evangelicals
1. A Subcultural Theory of Public Opinion among Evangelicals
2. Winds of Change or Still the Same? Political Identities and Issue Attitudes among Young Evangelicals
3. Inside Out or Outside In: Explaining Change among Young Evangelicals

Part II Methods of Understanding Public Opinion among Young Evangelicals
4. How the Evangelical Subculture Influences Public Opinion
5. Testing Subcultural Immersion’s Impact on Public Opinion
6. Public Opinion among Liberal Young Evangelicals


Appendix: Coding Religious Tradition
Chapter 3 Appendix
Chapter 5 Appendix
Chapter 6 Appendix

About the Author(s)

Jeremiah J. Castle is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Central Michigan University.


In the Series

  • Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics edited by Paul A. Djupe

    The Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics series, edited by Paul A. Djupe, will collect work that explores in theoretically and empirically rigorous ways variations in and determinants of religious presence in the politics of democratic nations—from those with a long history of institutionalized democracy to those struggling to establish free, contested elections and systems of rights and liberties. Books in the series will demonstrate application of one or more of a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore the robust and highly variable presence of religion in democracies. Prospective authors should contact series editor Paul Djupe or Senior Editor Aaron Javsicas at Temple University Press to discuss their work in progress for inclusion in the series.