Lindsay, D. Michael 1971-

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Lindsay, D. Michael 1971-


Born 1971; married Rebecca Ward (an educator); children: Elizabeth. Education: Baylor University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1994; Princeton Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2000; Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, diploma, 2001; Princeton University, M.A. (with distinction), 2004, Ph.D., 2006.


Home—Houston, TX. Office—Department of Sociology, Rice University, MS-28, 552 Sewall Hall, 6100 S. Main St., Houston, TX 77005. Agent—Thomas Rhodes, Leigh Bureau, 92 E. Main St., Ste. 400, Somerville, NJ 08876. E-mail—[email protected]


Rice University, Houston, TX, assistant professor of sociology, faculty associate of Leadership Rice, assistant director of the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life. Visiting professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary, 2003; visiting assistant professor at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, 2005. Consultant on religion and culture for the George H. Gallup International Institute.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Presidential scholar, 1997-2000; National Science Foundation graduate fellow, 2002-06; Civitas Doctoral Scholar, Center for Public Justice, 2003; outstanding teaching award, Princeton University Graduate School and Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, 2003; Harold W. Dodds Fellow, Princeton University, 2004-05; graduate student paper award, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2005; Robert McNamara student paper award, Association for the Sociology of Religion, 2005; first place, Fourth Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists, World Congress of Sociology, 2006; Fredric M. Jablin Award, Jepson School of Leadership Studies and International Leadership Association, 2006; nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, 2007, named a "Best Book of 2007" by Publishers Weekly, and recipient of the Christianity Today Book Award, 2008, all for Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite.Grants and awards include research awards from the Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University, 2003, 2004, 2005; dissertation improvement grant, National Science Foundation, 2004; research award, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2004; research award, Mellon Foundation, 2004; dissertation research award, department of sociology, Princeton University, 2005; research grants, Earhart Foundation, 2005, 2006; Constant H. Jacquet research award, Religious Research Association, 2005; Brown Foundation teaching grant, Rice University; research grant from the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy and faculty initiatives grant, Rice University, 2007, both for the PLATINUM Project.


(With George Gallup) Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs, Morehouse Publishing (Harrisburg, PA), 1999.

(With George Gallup) The Gallup Guide: Reality Check for 21st Century Churches, Gallup Organization (Princeton, NJ), 2002.

Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to works by others, including Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, 2nd edition, edited by Robert Wuthnow, Congressional Quarterly (Washington, DC), 2008, and of articles and reviews to journals and periodicals, including American Sociological Review, Sociological Quarterly, Journal of Political and Military Sociology, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Commonweal, and USA oday.


Sociologist D. Michael Lindsay's courses at Rice University have included "Social Theory, Religion and Public Life" and "Social Dynamics of Leadership." As a consultant, Lindsay has directed a number of surveys in his role at Gallup. "The Spiritual State of the Union," conducted on behalf of the Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, collected information about the religious and spiritual beliefs of Americans. "Interpersonal Relations in Local Congregations," conducted for Group Publishing, evaluated how religion is influenced by interpersonal friendship, and "Spiritual Capital and the Economy," funded by the John Templeton Foundation and conducted on behalf of the Spiritual Enterprise Institute, studied the relationship between spirituality and the economy. Lindsay has also coauthored books with George Gallup, Jr., including Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs, and The Gallup Guide: Reality Check for 21st Century Churches.

Lindsay's PLATINUM Study (Public Leaders in America Today and the Inquiry into their Networks, Upbringing, and Motivations) has been well supported.

Begun in 2003, it is a study of public leaders based on data obtained through a growing number of interviews. As the study progressed, Lindsay began to focus on evangelical leaders, whose rise in public influence dramatically increased in a short time. Lindsay published his findings as Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, which includes interviews with 360 leaders and the results of Lindsay's research. Included are interviews with former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, along with more than three dozen White House staffers and Cabinet members. Other interviews are of Hollywood notables, leaders in professional athletics, the arts, and philanthropy, and more than one hundred senior executives from large organizations. Lindsay also interviewed heads of evangelical organizations, pastors of large congregations, and seminary presidents.

Faith in the Halls of Power studies the rise of evangelicalism in the areas of politics and government, business and corporation life, arts, entertainment, and the media, and higher education. Lindsay feels that the rise of evangelicalism is due to networking, in elite as well as religious settings. In addition to presenting his information in the book, Lindsay's findings have been published in a number of scholarly journals.

A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "This important work should be required reading for anyone who wants to opine publicly on what American evangelicals are really up to." Library Journal reviewer George Westerlund noted that Lindsay's prediction is that "we may soon see whether evangelicals become a counterculture for the common good, or, as some critics fear, amount to a religious crusade."

In a USA Today feature editorial, Lindsay noted that of the people he interviewed who were known for their faith, more than half, "had low levels of commitment to their denominations and congregations. Some were members in name only; others had actively disengaged from church life." Lindsay commented that many prominent evangelicals attend Bible study and religious gatherings like the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, but do not attend Sunday services. Of President George W. Bush, Lindsay wrote in the same essay, "His presidency is the capstone of evangelicals' 30-year rise from the margins of society to the halls of power. But while the president has gone to great lengths to testify publicly to his faith, he often doesn't do the one thing that defines most evangelicals—go to church. He attends chapel at Camp David and other special services, but the president rarely can be found in a congregation on Sunday morning."

In reviewing the book in the Weekly Standard, Ryan T. Anderson described it as being "a remarkably balanced look at what Lindsay describes as ‘the most discussed but least understood group in America today.’" Anderson noted: "Evangelicals have long desired platforms to spread the Gospel, to shape culture, and to gain legitimacy among the nation's elite. To achieve this, they created countless institutions dedicated to producing the next generation of leaders. As Lindsay describes their impressive networks of development, we quickly understand how evangelicals went from the religious ghetto to civic prestige in just one generation."

Lindsay writes that many elite evangelicals consider attending church a waste of time and, although they are generally opposed to gay sex, pornography, and abortion, they often support more liberal agendas that include human rights and environmental protection.

In reviewing Faith in the Halls of Power in the New York Times Book Review, Alan Wolfe commented that "you will find an interview with Ted Haggard in this book with no reference to gay sex, Ralph Reed described without mention of his work for Jack Abramoff and a disquisition on the importance of religion in the Bush White House without any substantive discussion of the cynicism found there by David Kuo, an evangelical who soured on President Bush. (Kuo is relegated to a footnote.) To its credit, Faith in the Halls of Power allows the new evangelical leaders of America to speak. But it also represents a lost opportunity to pose important questions to them." Wolfe concluded, however, that Lindsay "accurately reflects the evangelical subculture he describes."

In addition to evangelical influence in government, Lindsay comments on its rise in business and the media. John Tyson, the poultry magnate, is open about his faith, and S. Truett Cathy, the founder of the fastfood chain Chick-fil-A, closes the operation on Sundays and holds services at the corporate office on Mondays. Starting the business day with prayer is particularly common in the South. Films such as Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ have brought faith to Hollywood, and film festivals foster filmmaking in evangelical colleges, which are experiencing rapid expansion, with more evangelical students also attending Ivy League schools.

"Mr Lindsay demonstrates that the arrival of the Evangelicals is changing both the American elite and the Evangelical movement itself," noted an Economist reviewer. "But it is also creating new divisions within the Evangelical movement between a cosmopolitan establishment and the populist masses." The reviewer faulted Lindsay for not discussing evangelicals serving in the armed forces, especially considering the large numbers there, but added that Lindsay "has nonetheless written an impressive and admirably fair-minded book: anybody who wants to understand the nexus between God and power in modern America should start here."



Booklist, October 1, 2007, Bryce Christensen, review of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, p. 22.

Economist, August 25, 2007, review of Faith in the Halls of Power, p. 75.

Library Journal, October 1, 2007, George Westerlund, review of Faith in the Halls of Power, p. 76.

New York Times Book Review, November 25, 2007, Alan Wolfe, review of Faith in the Halls of Power.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of Faith in the Halls of Power, p. 49.

Weekly Standard, March 10, 2008, Ryan T. Anderson, review of Faith in the Halls of Power.


Carnegie Council Web site, (September 20, 2007), transcript of discussion moderated by Joanne J. Myers.

Children's Ministry and Culture, (November 17, 2007), Keith Johnson, review of Faith in the Halls of Power.

Leigh Bureau Web site, (April 8, 2008), author profile.

Rice University, (April 8, 2008), faculty profile.

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Lindsay, D. Michael 1971-

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