We need a revival: Evangelical Women and Civic Engagement in New York City

Adriane Lee Bilous, Fordham University


“We Need a Revival” explores a new reality among evangelical millennials who are participating in socially conscious endeavors ranging from international social justice to local anti-poverty campaigns—activities that are often associated with left-leaning activism rather than older evangelical activists’ interests or more conservative political interests. Central to my analysis is the investigation of the tensions between the traditional and the modern occurring in the everyday lives of my respondents and the solutions implemented to reduce these tensions. This dissertation challenges current literature on evangelical institutions and evangelical women activists in three ways. First, my findings show these young evangelical women resolve some of their identity conflicts by rejecting the “evangelical label”—signaling a potentially significant shift in evangelical institutions and activism. Young evangelical women resolve tensions resulting from new activist interests by disregarding the label “evangelical” and instead using a narrative I call “I’m evangelical but not that type of evangelical.” This narrative allows these women to blend beliefs of an all-encompassing Biblical authority and distinguish themselves from previous generations by sharing many goals on the leftist evangelical agenda, which can include helping the poor and needy in local communities. Second, I show that central to their civic engagement is the use of a “servant-activist” identity narrative that highlights meaningful ways in which these women negotiate the tension between traditional evangelical gender roles and new activist interests. The “servant-activist” identity narrative is an effective discursive tool that reduces intergenerational tensions by borrowing “acceptable” gender ideologies of women as “helpers” to men rather than “activists/leaders” like men. Third, in New York City, servant-activism is shaped by the presence of organizations established solely to connect servant-activist to service opportunity. These organizations provide ready-made service opportunities that allow congregations to become more involved in their communities. Sometimes, compromises are made between what kinds of organizations one serves and the opportunities offered. With these “ready-made” service opportunities, I propose a new avenue on inquiry that might explore the implications of these service opportunities both inside and outside evangelical institutions.

Subject Area

Religion|Sociology|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Bilous, Adriane Lee, "We need a revival: Evangelical Women and Civic Engagement in New York City" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10013434.