Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout, both professors of sociology and geared up with all kinds of statistics, are convinced that the public perception of “conservative Christians” (CC) is off base in the media. So, they set about to discover what CCs are really like — at least to discover what the statistics show. Their study is called The Truth about Conservative Christians.
What strikes you about the percentages and conclusions listed below?
The Elmer Gantry image lives on, but these two authors are suggesting the image often used of CCs is wildly stereotyped and frequently inaccurate. So, they want to know what CCs are really like. They look at beliefs, politics, ethnic relations, freedom, social status, church membership, sexuality, feminism, lifestyle, and then two chps look at Pentecostals and Catholics. I look today at the beliefs of CCs.
Note: CCs are comprised of CPs (Conservative Protestants) and AfrAms (African American Protestants). There is an overwhelming similiarity between CPs and AfrAms; but, the AfrAms are more conservative theologically. [See bottom for more details.]
CC “is a biblical religion in the tradition of the Reformation not only at the leadership level but also within the ranks of the faithful” (11). But, and this needs to be observed: “only a minority of CCs embrace all of Cons Christianity’s essential elements” (11).
Now to the beliefs:
1. Bible: 54% of CPs and 59% of AfrAms believe the Bible is the actual Word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word” (15). (26% Mainliners, 21% Catholics.)
2. Born again: 65% CPs, 64% AfrAms have this experience. “CPs are even more likely to be ‘born again’ than they are likely to believe in word-for-word inspiration of the Bible by God” (17).
3. 3 solas (scripture, faith, grace): 40% CPs, 35% AfrAms affirm all three; 15% of CCs reject all three; 15% Mainliners embrace all three; 4% Catholics. Only 18% of the American populace affirms the three solas (25% is CC). The majority of CPs does not affirm the three solas.
4. Worldview: CCs have a harsher image of God, human nature, and world. God is more involved in the lives of CCs (by perception) than with Mainliners and RCs.
5. Influence of Church: strikingly, CCs think the church’s views should influence them (the authors find tension here with a Bible-centered faith). “Indeed the CPs are more likely to consider following the teachings of the Church more important than following their own consciences” (31).
6. Evolution: 25% of CPs believe this; 50% of Mainliners. Higher education does not change this.
Conservative Protestants include Southern Baptists, other Baptists, Missouri/Wisconsin Synod Lutherans, Churches of God/Assemblies of God, Pentecost, ….
Afro-American Protestants include American Baptists, National Baptists, African Methodist Episcopal, ….
Mainline Protestant … United Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterians, Episcopal, UCC, ….