Friday, August 19, 2016

92% Want Pastors to Speak Out on Current Cultural Issues

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When you put this up against a survey a few weeks ago that found only 21% of pastors plan to address any of the issues related to the upcoming 2016 election, the disconnect between the pulpit and the pew is stunning.

A Barna survey of "spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives"---whom he calls SAGE Cons, are the most engaged and faithful members of our nation's churches, therefore it carries even more significance than other surveys asking similar questions.

Here are the statements;

"Corruption is widespread throughout the government of the United States"; "The stakes in this presidential election are higher than in previous years"; Performance expectation for Trump and Clinton"; "The United States is at war with ISIS"; "Should Christian churches play a more important role in this election"; "Do you discuss political matters with liberal friends?"; "What about the candidate's character";

Here are the results:

Target update: I wrote about Target yesterday. Fortune is reporting that Target has now taken a baby step regarding the transgender restroom-fitting room issue. They plan to spend about $20 million on new bathrooms---but, they say, they have not "changed their beliefs."
I wrote about the previous survey of pastors when it was released. In addition to a mere 21% of conservative pastors even planning to teach biblical foundations for positions on issues relevant to the 2016 election, only 12% even plan to provide an opportunity for their church members to register to vote.

This new survey out this week reveals a substantial disconnect between the pulpit and the pew.

Barna, himself a Christian, who has been doing surveys for decades is highly respected and highly efficient---particularly regarding Christian and cultural issues.

He defines "SAGE Cons," among whom this survey was taken, as "adults who are registered voters; conservative on social matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government."

This group represents 12% of the US population---30 million individuals.

The significance of this group is that it represents the most active and faithful church members in America.

"Corruption is widespread throughout the federal government."

82% strongly agree and an additional 15% moderately agree. 97% believe our government is corrupt.

Barna believes this concern helps explain why this group has gone from 11% supporting Donald Trump in the early primary season to 84% currently supporting him.

Many believe Hillary is a "prime example of a corrupt politician" and believes her character to be less than Trump.

"The stakes in this election are higher than previous years."

A little more than 84% agree with that statement.

About 72% also believe that the outcome of this election will make a "big difference" in their personal life, with an additional 24% saying the outcome will make "some difference." Only 4% said it will make "no difference."

Barna found that people are very fearful. 93% are fearful of the impact Hillary would have as president, but 33% are frightened at the thought of Trump becoming president.

Barna says, "What makes this number so significant is that most of those who are scared about the impact of a Trump presidency say they plan to vote for him."

This is not a contradiction in their thinking, he says, "It reflects their utter disdain for the other candidates on the ballot."

Women (41%) are more concerned about Trump than men (30%).

The survey also found that the level of fear may change before November because both men and women say they become more comfortable with Trump over time.

Performance expectation for Trump and Clinton.

Trump. 20% believe he would do "an excellent job", 41% a "good job", 26% a "fair job", 13% were split or uncertain.

Clinton. 1% believe she would do an "excellent job", 2% a "fair job", 11% "not too good job", 86% a "poor job."

The United States is at war with ISIS.

96% agreed, including 66% strongly agreed.

Should Christian churches play a more important role in this election?

The respondents made no bones about wanting to see their church and pastor become more involved in speaking to the issues of this election.

Overall, 92% said they would like to see their Christian church play a more important role in this election than they have in the last few elections---72% "strongly agreed" with that idea.

However, as I said earlier, pastors of conservative biblical churches plan to do considerably less in this regard.

Do you discuss political matters with liberal friends?

Although 84% said they have friends who are politically liberal [progressive], only 6% said they often discuss these matters, another 32% said they do so "occasionally" and the remaining 47% said they "rarely" or "never" do so.

The survey also found that these folks are less likely to have friends who are theologically liberal---the religious Left, for example, 78% can identify such friends, however, they are slightly more likely to discuss spiritual matters with them they are to discuss political matters---8% "often", 37% "occasionally", and 34% "rarely" or "never."

What about the candidate's character?

Barna believes the outcome of the November election is likely to hinge on how much emphasis Americans place on the character of their chief political leader.

He says, "Mr. Trump is not running a very effective campaign, but he has one major benefit to his advantage: the perceived range and nature of the character flaws of his opponent. In considering the challenges that both candidates pose, many voters are being forced to ponder how much a leader's character matters, which character traits matter most, and how to balance character against performance."

Barna says this survey identifies the deep internal struggle for millions of voters, including evangelical voters.

He says, "On the one hand, the public perception is that Mrs. Clinton is dishonest and unethical. On the other hand, they view Mr. Trump as rude and arrogant. Which character traits matter most? And which ones are serious enough to disqualify a person from being an effective, trustworthy leader?

Barna says, "The survey shows that although SAGE Cons are not enthusiastic about Mr. Trump, they are downright frightened by the prospect of Mrs. Clinton winning the election because she is against almost everything they stand for."

He also says, "There are roughly 15% of this survey group of 30 million who say that while they could never support Clinton, they also in good conscience could not support a candidate with as many character deficiencies as Mr. Trump."

He concludes with this question: "Will their refusal to support Mr. Trump enable Mrs. Clinton to win the election?"

He asks, "Would the conscientious objection of that one out of six SAGE Cons justify facilitating a victory by a candidate they believe to be even worse?"

"That," Barna says, "is the moral conundrum that a few million Christian conservatives have to solve between now and November 8."

Be Informed. Be Prayerful.