Fascinating article in Christianity Today about American attitudes toward various religions. The chart on the left tells the tale very well. Everyone — even atheists — are more highly regarded in 2017 than in 2014 — except for evangelicals.
A more detailed article is available at the Pew Research Center’s webpage.
It’s actually worse than the chart shows.
The ratings fall when responses from fellow evangelicals, who made up more than 1 in 4 of respondents, are removed: Just under a third of non-evangelicals (32%) have warm feelings towards the group.
Part of the reason for evangelicals’ middling ratings is lack of exposure. The proportion of Americans who say they know an evangelical dropped by 9 percentage points from 2014 to 2017, down to 61 percent today. (A 2013 study hinted at the lack of exposure: 1 in 5 non-evangelicals in North America said they did not personally know an evangelical.) Meanwhile, knowing an evangelical increases their rating by 12 degrees on Pew’s feeling thermometer.
Though a majority of Americans still know at least one evangelical, the group experienced the most significant decline in familiarity. Among non-evangelicals, millennials (45%) and African Americans (33%) were least likely to know someone who identifies as evangelical.
Now, it’s a complex problem in part because “evangelical” is a poorly defined and understood term. In fact, in my experience, it’s most commonly used by the press to identify white Christians who support Republican candidates. Black Christians with nearly identical views generally decline to be described as “evangelical.” Continue reading