Substantially Different Political Views Among Christians
A new study by the American Culture & Faith Institute, led by George Barna, shows that their political views are substantially different, especially in regard to the 2016 election.
The United States has about 320,000 Protestant churches. Research indicates that about one-third of them are theologically conservative, about half are theologically moderate, and the remaining 15% are theologically liberal. They all claim to believe in the same God and preach from the same scriptures but differ when it comes to politics.
The survey discovered that theologically conservative pastors are much more likely to be engaged in this year’s election. Just less than half of the conservative pastors (44%) said they have paid “a lot of attention” to the election so far, compared to 28% of the moderate and liberal pastors.
When those figures are compared to the answers provided by a survey of SAGE Cons – the spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives in the general population – the research indicates that Christian conservatives are much more likely to be paying attention to the election than are pastors – regardless of the theological orientation of the clergy. Overall, during the same time frame during which the pastors’ survey was conducted, a national study among SAGE Cons was also conducted that showed 56% of the congregants had paid “a lot of attention” to the election so far.
Winning the Senate
There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs in this year’s election. Two out of every three conservative pastors (67%) believe that the Republicans will retain control of the Senate, while just one in ten (9%) believe the Democrats will take over, and one-quarter (24%) are uncertain. Moderate and liberal pastors are more divided over the outcome: a plurality (39%) expects the Democrats to take over the majority, 29% expect the GOP to retain its edge, and a similar proportion (28%) is undecided.
Among the SAGE Cons 58% believe the Republicans will keep control of the Senate, while 10% foresee a Democratic takeover, and 30% do not know what to expect.
Winning the White House
The two pastoral segments are much more clearly divided over who will win the presidency in November. Among theologically conservative pastors, half (50%) expect Mr. Trump to win, 15% predict a victory for Mrs. Clinton, and the remaining one-third are undecided. Moderate and liberal pastors see the outcome completely differently. A majority of them (56%) expect Mrs. Clinton to win, just one out of ten (11%) foresee a Trump victory, and one-third are unsure.
The answers of the SAGE Cons were nearly identical to those of the theologically conservative pastors: 47% expect Mr. Trump to be the next President while 18% foresee a Clinton victory.
Pastors’ personal preference in the presidential race is also diametrically opposite. While 70% of the conservative pastors plan to vote for Mr. Trump, compared to 2% who will support Mrs. Clinton, the opposite is true among the moderate and liberal pastors: 52% say they will vote for Mrs. Clinton and 13% will back Mr. Trump.
The other noteworthy outcome related to presidential preference is that 12% of the conservative pastors and 20% of the moderate and liberal clergy plan to vote for someone other than the major party candidates.
The remaining 17% of conservative pastors and 15% of the moderate and liberal pastors either have not made up their mind yet or plan to not vote at all.
Among SAGE Cons, 74% support Mr. Trump compared to just 1% who back Mrs. Clinton – an outcome that is strikingly similar to that of the theologically conservative pastors.