In news that should shock absolutely no one, non-Christians think very poorly of evangelicals.
According to a new survey from the (Christian) Barna Group, “Americans seem to increasingly view evangelicals through a political lens,” which isn’t good news for believers who think their faith is at least synonymous with basic decency.
Here’s what they found: Most evangelicals describe their people as “caring,” “hopeful,” “friendly,” “encouraging,” and “generous.” No surprises there.
But the words that non-Christians used to describe evangelicals (at least moreso than any other group) include “narrow-minded,” “homophobic,” “puritanical,” “uptight,” and “invasive.”
Barna concludes that, while the reputation of Jesus ultimately matters more than the reputation of evangelicals, Christians who want to convert others will have a hard time doing so if everyone hates them. (No kidding.)
… will the public witness of evangelicals be a bridge or a barrier to the very thing they hold most dear: persuading others to put their faith in Christ? The findings strongly suggest that the perceptions of evangelicals are more barrier than bridge on the road to gaining a hearing for the gospel. As such, the results of this research require much soul searching among Christians to discern a way forward with the current ‘evangelical brand.’
That last sentence makes no sense at all. What “soul searching” can they really do? The problem isn’t that they have bad PR. A marketing campaign won’t solve this problem. Their problem is their beliefs. We think they’re homophobic because they are homophobic. We think they’re narrow-minded because they prove it every damn day. “Puritanical”? Just look at the way they handle sex education, purity culture, and women’s rights.
Why would anyone want to join this club? These aren’t people who were tainted by Donald Trump. They’re people who had the power to steer him in any direction they wanted, and they decided to go with cruelty and corruption.
They don’t need a makeover. They need to rethink their entire theology. They are their own worst enemy and we’re all suffering because they have far more power than they deserve. The irony is that a lot of evangelicals might see these results and consider it a kind of social persecution, as if the results are unfair, or the result of a liberal culture that looks down upon Christians in general and evangelicals specifically. That’s not the case at all. Name a “good” evangelical and I’ll still show you a bunch of untrue, harmful beliefs.
Honestly, evangelicals should consider themselves lucky that this survey wasn’t open-ended and that respondents had to choose from the words given to them. It could’ve been much worse for them.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)