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:
- 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)
- evangelicals are weary (and wary) of being labeled haters & bigots when they allow their doctrine to divide (wherever that dividing line is drawn)
- evangelicals are buying into the notion that faith has no place in the public square
Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to discuss.