Here’s a novel way to see how white evangelical Christians are susceptible to misinformation far more than any other group.
Last year, just before the election, the Cooperative Election Survey asked tens of thousands of Americans what TV news networks they watched over the past 24 hours.
According to an analysis of that data from Professor Ryan P. Burge, the patterns are clear: 61% of white evangelicals said they watched FOX News, compared to only 14% of atheists. White evangelicals were also the least likely to watch PBS, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, or ABC — all networks that at least attempt to base their coverage in reality.
To be sure, most people watch no news. Most people don’t read the news. Most people are ignorant of what’s happening in the world for reasons that may well be legitimate (e.g. they work long hours, have kids who need more attention, etc). But when the people who watch TV news are fed misinformation, and when those gullible viewers have outsized political power and control over an entire political party, it has a corrosive effect on our country.
Pastors should never be in the business of telling their congregations how to vote. It’s an IRS rule, anyway. But every pastor who cares should be denouncing misinformation, telling their congregations not to spread lies, and teaching their churches how to think critically instead of quieting accepting as fact whatever right-wing demagogues feed them. Would atheists call that ironic? Yes. But it still needs to happen.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)