The political mobilization of evangelicals has been widely chronicled, but their mobilization in the civil sector has received far less attention. That mobilization is embodied in parachurch organizations, which are nonprofits infused with religious purpose but independent of congregations and denominations. Here we examine the features of local communities that account for variation in the creation of parachurch organizations. Drawing upon a broad number of theoretical approaches, we develop a series of expectations about the variation in parachurch foundings across counties. Using IRS registration records and a diverse set of other secondary data sources, we assess the impact of religious structures and cultures, organizational densities, and government and social movement contexts on parachurch foundings across U.S. counties. Our analysis finds that counties with higher rates of adherence to evangelical Protestantism generate more parachurch organizations, but only if the county is not too saturated by evangelicals. On the other hand, counties with higher rates of adherence to Catholic, mainline Protestant, and Latter-Day Saint traditions generate fewer parachurch organizations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Religious studies