Pew: Evangelical Leaders Split on Faith's Influence

Wednesday, 22 Jun 2011 02:26 PM

 

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WASHINGTON — Christian evangelicals' influence is seen waning in developed countries, while the faith's future is bright in the developing world, a survey of evangelical church leaders concluded Wednesday.

The church leaders cited growing secularism, consumerism, and sex and violence in popular culture as the gravest challenges to the faith.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life conducted the survey at the Third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, where roughly half the attendees participated in the October 2010 poll.

Almost two-thirds of the 2,196 evangelical leaders surveyed, said there is a "natural conflict" between being an evangelical and living in modern society.

Evangelicals tend to be conservative, and the number of converts is expanding in Africa, Latin America, and other parts of the developing world where leaders tend to hold more pronounced conservative views, the Pew report said.

In the survey, two-thirds of evangelical Christian leaders in Europe, North America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand said their faith is losing influence in their countries, while 58 percent from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and most of Asia responded that their faith is gaining influence.

U.S. evangelical leaders were particularly pessimistic, with 82 percent saying the faith's influence is waning.

Evangelical Christian leaders shared some views: Nearly all opposed the right to abortion and said society should discourage homosexuality. Most believed men should serve as religious leaders in their marriage and family.

But 9 out of 10 of the leaders rejected "prosperity gospel," which is preached in some U.S. "mega-churches" and holds that wealth and good health is granted for strong belief.

The leaders generally agreed the Bible is the word of God, though they split evenly on whether it should not be read literally, word for word, and they were divided on whether belief in God was necessary to be a moral person.

Nearly all evangelical leaders from Muslim-majority countries viewed Islam as a threat, but competing faiths were much less of a concern in other countries. A majority had a favorable view of Jews, Catholics, and other Christian faiths.

Slightly more than half said they believed the second coming of Jesus Christ would occur in their lifetimes.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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