The Guardian view on US religion: the Christian right is breaking up

President Donald Trump with Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Pastor Paula White

One of the most interesting and important developments in the American culture wars, which is to say in American politics and self-understanding, is playing out inside the major Christian groupings there: evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest fundamentalist grouping, has been roiled by the discovery of a sermon in which Paige Patterson, one of its leaders, boasts that he counselled an abused woman to stay with her husband even when she came to him with two black eyes. Almost 3,000 Southern Baptist women signed a letter demanding that the 75-year-old Mr Patterson lose his job as head of a seminary.

For the last 30 years, the alliance between Catholics and white evangelicals has been an enormously powerful force on the right of American politics. It was based around a common opposition to abortion – a cause to which evangelicals came relatively late – and a wider suspicion of feminism. Apart from that, the two groups have little in common demographically, culturally and even economically. The economic model of American evangelical Christianity has been…

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