Surveys: U.S. Religious Activists Have ‘Widely Divergent’ Views
As much as I like some of the content on ChristianPost.com, today we have another article (see this post for another) which is too vague to be useful, other than to draw gross conclusions that can only be divisive, rather than edifying. I really hate it when news organizations (the mainstream/conservative/liberal/everyone press) don’t reference the actual questions. The phrasing of the questions is crucial!
For example, “Nearly half of conservatives (48 percent) believe scripture to be the literal word of God”. What was the question? Did they use “inerrant” or “literal” or some other word in the question? Did they ask the polled individual what they meant by that word?
In my denomination, The Church of the Nazarene, inerrancy is only applied to salvation1. So, if I answered, “the bible is inerrant in regards to salvation alone,” would that be a yes or no? Then it would be up to the poller to decide.
In regards to abortion, what are “most cases”? What kind of cases are people thinking about when they hear the question? I almost wrote that I was one of the 54%, because I read “some”. Imagine if “some” had heard “some” rather than “most”.
I guess I’m not a “conservative”. I think there needs be a lot of separation between state and church. I do not believe that because my faith helps me make decisions, that I should be banned from stating such. Nor do I think most people, if they truly thought about it, would want to squelch such (yes, there are a bunch of loud, obnoxious ones who would disagree with me).
I will say that this article notes the imbalance within the Christian community. Yes, helping your fellow man is a vital part of the Christian ethos and scripture. However, coercion by one’s government is not part of the deal. The Roman Catholic tradition has a great balance between what has become two sides, but Roman Catholics as a practical matter are having just the same issues.
The tradition, even in the Protestant Church (such as John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and the “grandparent” of my denomination), is there. It is the rhetoric, and the American desire for a “simple”, “black-and-white” answer that is creating this insanity, along with the quick response medium of the internet (to which, of course, I’m contributing).
It is also the church, as a whole, that is at fault in the responses to this poll. What is the church teaching? Is it teaching? Is it helping its people wrestle with the faith? It IS okay to wrestle with the faith! That’s what the church fathers did!
This also does bring back to mind this article at the (evil) FoxNews: Has Christian America Come to an End?
1We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments,given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith. (see Article IV in our Manual)
My dad used to say, “Figures lie and liars figure.” It is so easy to twist these surveys and draw strange conclusions from the data.
Especially when the questions force people into making an artificial choice about an issue with complex dimensions. For example, am I a Republican or a Democrat? There are things on both party platforms that I feel passionately drawn to support. And both parties have some stances that horrify me.
And yet, as humans we need to make sense of our world by thinking of issues, people, platforms, and faiths in various categories. We just need to be careful that we don’t think too highly of the categories we create.
Exactly! However, and this the human problem, humans like black-and-white categories…
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