Now the big one: What do non-Christians think of Christians? This chp is an examination of one of the most common observations made in the last decade, and it is an observation made often among emerging folks. I’ve made the same one.
This chp is the chp that made me think we’ve got to get more rigorous in what we think about Christians in America.
We are looking at Brad Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media
Yes, you may already have guessed it: the numbers do not prove what so many are claiming. So here we go…
But first the question: Do you believe Brad Wright’s conclusions?
Well, yes, Brad examines the theories of some friends of mine: Dan Kimball, Gabe Lyons and David Kinnamon. Yes, he disagrees with them… but let’s see what he says.
First, atheists think the same thing about themselves; they too believe they have an image problem.
Second, the big theory out there today is that nonChristians have a negative stereotype of Christians, especially of evangelicals. They say Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, anti-gay etc.. For some reasons, many have embraced the negative stereotype and turned against the Christians … you see his point. If someone else has a negative stereotype we often criticize the stereotype and the stereotyper — we might take them to court. He suggests there is such a thing as “Christophobic.” Stereotypes are not rooted in reality but ignorance and prejudice. Think about what our culture thinks about women in the sciences… At least part of this problem is prejudice. Wright’s numbers will show some of this.
Maybe the biggest problem is our embrace of the prejudice!
2008 Gallup Poll. General population’s feelings toward various groups, and the numbers are positive, neutral and negative: Methodists (51, 45, 3), Jews (about the same), Baptists (49, 40, 11), Evangelicals (40, 38, 22), Mormons (25, 46, 29), Muslims (18, 34, 48), Atheists (12, 40, 48).
NonChristians on same: Methodists (32, 58, 10), Jews (43, 49, 8), Evangelicals (13, 36, 51), Mormons (26, 46, 28), Muslims (19, 54, 27), Atheists (36, 48, 16). Big issue here is that Baptists are not involved in this “Evangelical” number so that if one factors them in the whole thing shifts. Baptists had a higher rating of people who liked them. 74% of nonChristians were either positive or neutral toward Baptists. He suggests the word “evangelical” is now a pejorative term; it provokes negative responses.
He also studies numbers that show Evangelicals have negative attitudes toward folks of other religions — something mentioned in the previous post.
Are these numbers shifting? According to Wright the numbers actually show that attitudes toward Christians and evangelicals are improving.
Here’s an odd conclusions: older groups are more negative toward evangelicals than younger groups.
And another study: what we think others think of us matters more than what others actually think of us! Evangelicals are 30% higher in negative self-perception than our society!
The group most anti-Evangelical is university professors. 53%. The banner of tolerance, the guiding ethic of the university, is least shown toward evangelicals.
Brad confesses that he kept quiet about his faith until he got tenure.