Evangelicals are getting a bad rap in the news these days, but recent research shows that just because people say they are evangelicals doesn’t necessarily mean they hold evangelical views.
According to Many Who Call Themselves Evangelical Don’t Actually Hold Evangelical Beliefs from Lifeway Research:
Fewer than half of those who identify as evangelicals (45 percent) strongly agree with core evangelical beliefs, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
“There’s a gap between who evangelicals say they are and what they believe,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
In reference to the Roy Moore debacle in Alabama, The Atlantic reports that evangelicals have changed their views of what’s morally okay for a political candidate. In fact, they report that evangelicals’ views have taken a nose dive in the last few years:
“As recently as 2011, a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that only 30 percent of white evangelicals believed “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” But by the time Donald Trump was running for president in 2016, that number had risen sharply to 72 percent. White evangelicals are now more tolerant of immoral behavior by elected officials than the average American.”
Are evangelicals losing their grip with the Bible? Or could it be that “evangelical” is just the answer many are choosing on surveys without understanding all that entails?
One wonders when according to the Lifeway Research: “A significant number of evangelical believers reject the term “evangelical.” Only two-thirds (69 percent) of evangelicals by belief self-identify as evangelicals.”
One also wonders if the perception of evangelicals will facilitate the cause of the gospel being hijacked as The Atlantic alludes to: “To many on the secular left, the race has only confirmed all the worst things they’ve long assumed about social conservatives. But what’s taking place in Alabama is actually the product of a dramatic, and relatively recent, shift in the political ethics of the religious right—a shift that could have far-reaching consequences in American politics.”
As church leaders, our call is not to American politics but to a higher kingdom whose cause is completely and totally bipartisan! Can I get an amen?