Study in confusion

Beware doctrinaire campus ministry!

A CT report on a new study from Lifeway Research offers a rather dismal snapshot of current evangelical thinking. The study, which examined the nation’s attitudes toward campus ministries’ faith requirements, surveyed 1,000 Americans. Among the reported findings:

  • Respondents were asked “Should student religious organizations, recognized by publicly funded colleges, be allowed to require their leaders to hold specific beliefs?” 51% of evangelicals said yes, 44% said no.
  • When the same question was asked about student groups at private institutions 60% of evangelicals answered yes, while 36% said no.

So almost half of evangelicals think it’s a bad idea to require ministry leaders on a public campus to hold the doctrinal views of the organization they represent. And more than a third wouldn’t hold ministry leaders to doctrinal standards even at a private institution.


What do we make of these findings? I have three potential conclusions:

  1. The term evangelical has become so broad as to be almost meaningless. (i.e. evangelical has more to do with a certain culture than a set of convictions)
  2. evangelicals are weary (and wary) of being labeled haters & bigots when they allow their doctrine to divide (wherever that dividing line is drawn)
  3. evangelicals are buying into the notion that faith has no place in the public square

Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to discuss.

Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Lead pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian, theological Luddite, and long-suffering Atlanta Falcons fan. A student of one book.

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