Demography drives religious change. That bald comment is too obvious to be worth making, but it’s surprising how little attention demographic factors receive in most histories of religion, particularly of Christianity. That neglect means we miss a very large part of the story.
United for a Fair Economy was started 15 years ago in response to the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. Mike Lapham joined the organization in 1997 to head its Responsible Wealth program, which mobilizes the voices of people who want to use their money to create a better society—through their own tax money.
When a child is ignoring basic responsibilities, parents rely on a well-known parenting technique to make a point. Mom looks her ten-year-old in the eye while holding a toothpaste tube in one hand and the cap in the other. “This is called toothpaste,” she says, “and this is called a cap. They go together.” The Lord God is not beyond impatience and remedial instruction when people need a reminder about neglected responsibilities. God held a basket of ripened summer fruit beneath Amos’s nose and said, “Amos, what do you see here?” The prophet, sensing that God was serious, didn’t bother joking. “A basket of summer fruit,” he replied. With that brief exchange, strangely similar to a parent remedially instructing a child, the doors opened to a flood of divine wrath.
An impoverished doctor in an Alpine valley of hearty people, lures a naive country boy into his examining room, shows him frightening anatomical charts of the mysteries within, and awakens fears about hiccups and hair loss, acne and gas pains. According to this old French fable, the boy leaves clutching a bottle of medicine and carrying alarming stories to pass along.
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is aiming to win the evangelical vote in his bid to become the Republican presidential candidate. But Heath W. Carter, who teaches history at Valparaiso University, says that if they support Walker, who is known for his union-busting efforts, evangelicals will be ignoring some of their own history. Evangelicals have played a key role in union history, says Carter. In the 19th century, Scottish immigrant Andrew Cameron, a devout believer, campaigned for an eight-hour work day, believing that workers didn’t receive a fair wage for their labor. Evangelical figures were also involved in labor efforts in the early part of the 20th century and during the Depression. Walker’s own congregation was deeply divided over his attack on public unions (New Republic, July 12).