Fast Fact: Most Americans Mostly Like Evangelical Christians
07.24.2014 posted by AwanaYM
Students are sometimes tempted to think that people don’t like Christians very much. Between caustic comedians on YouTube and heated public debates about evolution, abortion and gay marriage, it would be easy to carry a perception that Christians are generally disapproved of in this country.
A recent Pew Research survey, though, reveals that Evangelical Christians are as well-liked (or better liked) in America as other religious groups—and far better liked than atheists. The full report is an interesting read, but here’s the gist:
Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).
Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings on average, ranging from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part.
Why should we talk about this? Two reasons:
It matters that we avoid painting a false picture for our students about how our faith is perceived by the culture at large. It is possible to lead a student to literal “persecution complex” based on a continual emphasis of how deeply divided our culture has become on issues of faith and morality. By overstating the opposition to evangelical Christianity in America, we may provoke students to become needlessly fearful or overly defensive about their faith—and miss the opportunity to enjoy drawing others to Christ.
Secondly, though, it is an opportunity to talk about why our first priority is NOT to be liked by everyone. Our goal is not to make Christianity popular. Jesus did promise His followers that the world would reject them, that persecution would come. But He also gave us the responsibility to show His love to the world—and some will be genuinely attracted to that demonstration of love, faith and hopefulness.