A while ago, Philip Longman's article, "The Return of Patriarchy" made a big splash. The full length article isn't available on-line, but you can get the gist here. The idea is that liberals aren't having enough babies and, therefore, we can expect to be vastly outnumbered in future generations by the "quivers full" of arch-conservatives who believe in patriarchal mores. Of course, this thesis hinges on the untested assumption that these broods of children will grow up to adopt the strict conservatism of their parents.
But according to a New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein* last week:
Despite their packed megachurches, their political clout and their increasing visibility on the national stage, evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves.
Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.
Of course, it's important to note that "evangelical" doesn't necessarily correlate with "conservative." It's also important to note that merely leaving their parents' evangelical churches doesn't necessarily mean that these kids are going to adopt a liberal worldview. It is also possible that evangelical leaders are crying wolf in order to encourage stepped-up efforts to draw in and retain young church-goers.
But still, this is an interesting sign that Longman's thesis perhaps takes a bit too much for granted.
* Unfortunately, the full article is only available if you subscribe to New York Times select. But you can get the idea here.