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Fundamentalists out of favor

2002-12-08 19:28:48+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Fundamentalists losing favor with public:

Researchers from the Barna survey asked respondents how they felt about evangelicals, born-again Christians, ministers, and other groups of people in society. According to the survey, evangelicals came in tenth out of eleven, narrowly beating out prostitutes.

Now granted, this was an American Family Association funded survey, but what's the matter with prostitutes?

[ related topics: Religion Sexual Culture Sociology Current Events ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-12-09 03:33:35+00 by: Diane Reese

I would like to see the actual survey results, and more detail than what's in this citation, have you found it anywhere?

#Comment made: 2002-12-09 13:33:58+00 by: petronius [edit history]

One difficulty with this short write-up is a common one in this whole realm of discussion: The difference between "Evangelicals", "Christians", and "Fundementalists". Which is what? There is an agenda on both sides to fudge the specific boundries of each definition.

In the story the pollster refers to perceptions by "non-Christians". Is that Jews, Muslims and Hindus, or just non-evangelical Protestants? My parents are lifelong devout Roman Catholics, yet it sounds like they won't qualify as Christians in this worldview. Here terms are being redefined to become more exclusive.

On the other hand, what's the difference between an Evangelical and a Fundementalist? These terms get used interchangeably by opponents to these movements, when they really aren't. I define Evangelicals as people who have made a very serious, personal commitment to their religion, and who have had a personal experience of connection to the Godhead. They see the inmplications to their daily life of maintaining such beliefs, and struggle to honestly live there life by those principles. They also see it as their duty and honor to bring the glad tidings to others, and to save them from a horrible, everlasting fate. Although they tend to be personally conservative, some are politicly and even socially liberal. Sojurners magazine is the center of this worldview, and I have even met evangelical Christian Darwinists who have no problem with evolution. As one said to me, "I gave Jesus my heart, not my brain!"

Fundementalists, on the other hand, are a very large subset of the Evangelicals. They have had the personal religious experience, but to their mind the implications of believing the Bible are very clear: If it says Creation took 7 days, then it took 7 days and not a minute more. These people admit no ambiguity into their lives, and for this reason are the hardest working and most influential of the evangelicals. Many of them consider the liberal evangelicals little better than Catholics, who in their turn are only slightly better than heathen Unitarians or devil-worshippers. They are also the easiest led by ambitious preachers who combine their political agendas with their religous ones.

#Comment made: 2002-12-09 15:35:15+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

This is sad. Christians taking a poll to see how popular they are. Sad. They've forgotten that the founder of "The Way" was killed and even warned them "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you."

More info on the report: http://www.abpnews.com/abpnews/story.cfm?newsId=3372

Which has this great quote:

Barna said the survey is evidence of the power of labeling in American society. He urged Christians to draw a lesson from this study as they are tempted to judge other people by stereotypes.

And, petronius, the article explains the methodology a little better. The people the survey focused on were 270 people who self-identified as "non-Christian". I'm assuming a Catholic would call themselves a Christian.

Also, though people had higher opinions of "born again Christians" than "evangelicals", they weren't able to explain the difference between the two groups.

#Comment made: 2002-12-09 20:18:07+00 by: debrahyde

First, check out Barna's own results. Even more interesting, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Sorry if I should a tad skeptical.

#Comment made: 2002-12-10 15:58:48+00 by: markd

And then there's the Evangelical Lutheran Church (in America), which even though it has "Evangelical" in the name, from what I've seen they're pretty much indistinguishable from the run-of-the-mill protestant "non-evangelical" denomintions.