One stubborn stereotype in the United States is that religious roots are deepest in blue-collar communities and small towns, and, more generally, among Americans who do not have college degrees. That was true in the 1970s. Yet since then, attendance at religious services has plummeted among moderately educated Americans, and is now much more common among college grads. So, too, is participation in civic groups. High-school seniors from affluent households are more likely to volunteer, join groups, go to church, and have strong academic ambitions than seniors used to be, and are as trusting of other people as seniors a generation ago; their peers from less affluent households have become less engaged on each of those fronts. A cultural chasmâ€”which did not exist 40 years ago and which was still relatively small 20 years agoâ€”has developed between the traditional middle class and the top 30 percent of society.
I’ve heard hints of this in different places, but I’ve never seen it put so baldly. If you couple it with the author’s later (in the article) examination of “meritocracy” in schools and a growing gap in educational achievement and corresponding financial success … is the church increasingly if uncritically successful among the only the successful? If so – it’s a shadow mission, not the gospel mission.