Skip to comments.Survey on Evangelical Attitudes---Finds We Like the Pope Better than Robertson or Falwell
Posted on 04/14/2004 11:09:48 AM PDT by Between the Lines
PBS/U.S. News & World Report survey of evangelicals has some surprises. Evangelicals have been surveyed many times over, so it seems unlikely that another survey will turn up anything new about who evangelicals are and what they believe.
Even surveys that repeat the basics can be helpful to non-evangelicals who have mistaken views about such believers. But a new survey commissioned by PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report magazine has some results that many evangelicals will find surprising.
Many of the results really are predictable--in fact, some go to the heart of what it means to be evangelical. "White evangelicals hold a conservative set of religious beliefs about the interpretation of the Bible and salvation from personal faith alone," the survey says (it breaks out white evangelicals from African-American and Hispanic evangelicals, though the survey shows the same can be said for evangelicals as a whole). "They are also deeply committed to their religious imperative to spread their faith."
Evangelicals incorporate their faith into daily life; they volunteer, give to charity, are concerned with moral values, oppose gay marriage, and tend to be politically conservative. They don't really attend megachurches (only 14 percent go to churches with more than 1,000 members) and aren't enthusiastic about a federal marriage amendment (a majority say the issue is best left to the states). For the most part, we've heard that before, but much of it bears repeating.
Here's some numbers you haven't seen:
The media often look to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to speak on behalf of all evangelicals, yet less than half of all evangelicals themselves (44%) have a favorable view of Falwell, and only a slight majority (54%) view Robertson favorably. In contrast, evangelical leaders Franklin Graham and James Dobson are both viewed favorably by 73% of all evangelicals, and Pope John Paul II is viewed more favorably by all evangelicals (59%) than either Falwell or Robertson.
On the political front, John Kerry is viewed favorably by 23 percent of evangelicals (18 percent of white evangelicals), and Bush by 61 percent (69 percent of white evangelicals).
There are interesting findings on the culture-wars front, too:
There are notable discrepancies between how evangelicals think members of the wider society view them, how they view themselves, and how society says it views evangelicals. A strong majority (72%) of all evangelicals feel the mass media are hostile to their moral and spiritual values. Almost half (48%) believe that evangelical Christians are looked down upon by most Americans. And 75% of all evangelicals say they must fight to make their voices heard. In contrast, less than half (46%) of non-evangelicals think evangelicals must fight to be heard, and only 35% of non-evangelicals think Americans look down on evangelicals.
They may feel mistreated, but when it comes to challenging actual persecution in hostile nations, white evangelicals say it's not as important as making America strong:
White evangelicals prioritize the "strength" issues when it comes to the United States' foreign policy agenda. In this way, their political attitudes seem to be more influenced by their political conservatism than the altruism of spreading their faith or doing God's work abroad. When it comes to international priorities, they think first of those that will keep America safe from foreign aggression. Homeland security and the war on terrorism are the top priorities for white evangelicals, rather than reaching out to the disadvantaged or even protecting the rights of religious minorities such as Christians in other countries.
With more than 150 questions, there's much more to this survey, and both Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report will be looking more deeply at the numbers and what they mean, starting with this weekend's PBS broadcast (check local listings). Religion & Ethics Newsweekly's web site has posted the survey results (PDF | DOC), the questions (PDF | DOC), and the methodology (PDF | DOC).
(Note: all emphasis in bold are mine.)
And then there was this tidbit:
White evangelicals prioritize the "strength" issues when it comes to the United States' foreign policy agenda. In this way, their political attitudes seem to be more influenced by their political conservatism than the altruism of spreading their faith or doing God's work abroad.....Homeland security and the war on terrorism are the top priorities for white evangelicals, rather than reaching out to the disadvantaged or even protecting the rights of religious minorities such as Christians in other countries.
I think it ironic that these snide comments follow a paragraph detailing how even though Evangelicals feel the media is hostile to them and though they feel looked down on by most Americans, that the majority of Americans do not think that they are.
I would not think twice at reading this kind of thing in the secular media, but in Christianity Today? Had they emphasized the differences between black and white Evangelicals just a little more, I would have thought this article to be straight from the mainstream media. It is sad that PBS's article on the same subject was more straitghtforward and less slanted than that of Christianity Today's.
This statement is decidedly anti Evangelical, anti Bush, and anti Christian.
You said this came from a Christian source? More like Dan Rather or PBS!
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