Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite

Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite

Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite

Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite


Evangelicals, once at the periphery of American life, now wield power in the White House and on Wall Street, at Harvard and in Hollywood. How have they reached the pinnacles of power in such a short time? And what does this mean for evangelicals--and for America?

Drawing on personal interviews with an astonishing array of prominent Americans--including two former Presidents, dozens of political and government leaders, more than 100 top business executives, plus Hollywood moguls, intellectuals, athletes, and other powerful figures--D. Michael Lindsay shows first-hand how they are bringing their vision of moral leadership into the public square. This riveting volume tells us who the real evangelical power brokers are, how they rose to prominence, and what they're doing with their clout. Lindsay reveals that evangelicals are now at home in the executive suite and on the studio lot, and from those lofty perches they have used their influence, money, and ideas to build up the evangelical movement and introduce it to the wider American society. They are leaders of powerful institutions and their goals are ambitious--to bring Christian principles to bear on virtually every aspect of American life.

Along the way, the book is packed with fascinating stories and striking insights. Lindsay shows how evangelicals became a force in American foreign policy, how Fortune 500 companies are becoming faith-friendly, and how the new generation of the faithful is led by cosmopolitan evangelicals. These are well-educated men and women who read both The New York Times and Christianity Today, and who are wary of the evangelical masses' penchant for polarizing rhetoric, apocalyptic pot-boilers, and bad Christian rock. Perhaps most startling is the importance of personal relationships between leaders--a quiet conversation after Bible study can have more impact than thousands of people marching in the streets.

Faith in the Halls of Powertakes us inside the rarified world of the evangelical elite--beyond the hysterical panic and chest-thumping pride--to give us the real story behind the evangelical ascendancy in America.


Atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in one of Manhattan’s most celebrated ballrooms, media mogul Rupert Murdoch stepped up to a microphone. It was September 2004, and gathered before him was a Who’s Who of the New York publishing elite. “When an author sells a million copies of his book, we think he’s a genius. When he sells twenty million, we say we’re the geniuses.”

Murdoch was introducing Rick Warren, a folksy Southern Baptist preacher from suburban southern California. As head of the media conglomerate that published Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life, Murdoch had much to smile about. The book had become the bestselling work of nonfiction in history (other than the Bible) and had been translated into more than fifty different languages. Long before this, Warren had made a name for himself in evangelical circles. An earlier book, The Purpose-Driven Church, had sold a million copies, and over the years thousands of pastors had attended conferences to hear Warren and his staff talk about their approach to church growth.

That evening Warren had invited several of his friends from California to the party, and a handful of fellow evangelicals from the East Coast were in attendance as well. This was Warren’s “coming out” party—a recognition that he was now part of the nation’s elite. As I spoke to Warren’s wife, Kay, she casually mentioned that she had met Dan Rather’s wife the night before for dinner. During the party I spotted several Fortune 500 CEOs around the room. Warren was now not just a religious leader but a public leader, endowed with responsibility and influence far beyond the evangelical world.

The mood was festive and lively, but the two groups didn’t mix all that well. I was there at the invitation of a friend who knew I was doing research on America’s leadership and evangelicals. I introduced myself to an editor from another publishing house. Upon hearing that I was from Princeton, she assumed I was part of the . . .

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