American Evangelicalism isn’t patriarchal or feminized. It’s matrilineal
Anthony Bradley on August 26, 2020
For many years, researchers have pondered the growing absence of men in conservative Protestant churches, especially evangelical churches. In fact, losing men has been a problem for Christian denominations since the late 19th century, which ushered in the era of “muscular Christianity” as a way to win men back to the church. During the early 20th-century, church leaders had deep concerns about the ways in which church life was skewing primarily towards the interests and concerns of women and the ways in which urban life began to redefine men’s roles in society.
Men were falling away from church life. As sedentary life was becoming an industrial revolution norm, due to advances in technology and improving economic mobility, religious leaders introduced sports, fitness, adventure, and social justice as way to reconnect boys and men to the church. This explains the partnering of church life with the YMCA, the Boy Scouts, outdoor camps, and enlisting men in the Social Gospel Movement. As Clifford Putney explains in his book, Muscular Christianity, by 1899 women comprised three-quarters of Protestant church membership and nine-tenths of its attendance. Recent studies on gender disparities in American churches report that women regularly attend church more than men at 61 to 55 percent, respectively…