Ranters of Mow Cop

Ranters of Mow Cop

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Changing Evangelical Identities and Evangelical (dis)Unity in 21st Century Britain

A more easily readable pdf version of this piece can be downloaded from


Changing Evangelical Identities and Evangelical (dis)Unity in 21stCentury Britain

Summary...

From the data to be presented below from various waves of the Evangelical Alliance panel survey programme the key elements and issues around evangelical identity in the UK are summarised below.

Two central issues are "truths universally acknowledged" by evangelicals

  1. Personal faith and a walk with God is paramount for anyone to be counted as evangelical or event Christian.

  2. Salvation is found only and uniquely in Christ


Bebbington's four key points of evangelicalism remain important for the overwhelming majority of evangelicals ( Bible - atonement – conversion – activism) and shape their identity as evangelicals though with lots of nuances as we have established in previous chapters / postings. These 6 elements can be seen as distinctives over against other varieties of Christianity


An orthodox Trinitarian creedal belief is implicitly assumed before anyone can be counted as an evangelical.


Some evangelicals list or stress other beliefs, practices and commitments such as love for all people, working for social justice, active church membership, traditional conservative views on gender roles, sex and sexuality, opposition to Darwinism / evolution as normative. However, these are contested by varying proportions of self identifying evangelicals.


Most evangelicals recognize and desire a unity among (evangelical) Christians which allows for pluralism and diversity on terms of denominations, spiritualities, cultural forms, sacraments and ecclesiology. Many evangelicals express frustration about "labels" and factions among Christians and say they would rather be known simply as Christians or "followers of Jesus". There is some evidence that in the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) evangelicalism no longer needs to be seen as essentially Protestant, nor rooted in a white, British, male dominated form of Christendom.


Nonetheless there are real divisions in the evangelical community in the UK with various recognizable tribes, among which the most significant is the difference between conservative/ reformed evangelicals and charismatic / open evangelicals..


There is a growing sense that the label "evangelical" has become a toxic word and is being less frequently used as an identity marker, especially among the younger generation. There is a debate as to whether the term can it be reclaimed or is best abandoned. The problem is believed to have arisen because of outsider and media stereotypes that are formed by association with particular North American brands of "evangelicalism" (possibly better described as fundamentalism) which are politically and morally conservative, populist, racist and science denying.


Although evangelicals tend to see themselves as the only authentic, vibrant and growing sector of the Christian church in the UK and worldwide, at the same time many do see themselves and Christianity as under threat, from secularism, other religions, consumerism, government restrictions, liberal attitudes on sexuality and weaknesses internal to Christianity such as lukewarmness, Biblical illiteracy and compromise. A conservative minority seem to embrace a narrative of decline from a golden age of an imagined "Christian nation" where a strong, well-defined and uncompromising evangelicalism was a dominant force in shaping culture, morality, politics and the life of the church. In some cases this promotes the identity of an evangelical "remnant" over against a "world" who despise, discriminate against and even persecute the people of God.














So what is it that makes an evangelical? How do Evangelicals perceive themselves?


In the table below the items shaded green suggest there is a fairly strong normative expectation for these beliefs and practises among evangelicals. Items shaded orange are more contested.


In order to be called an evangelical how important is it that a Christian should ...

21st Century Evangelicals survey – May 2014

It's absolutely essential

It's usual and ought to be so

They may do so, but it's not required

They should not do so


know God personally

90%

9%

0%

0.00%


believe that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation

86%

11%

3%

0%


believe that on the cross Jesus took the punishment for our sins

85%

11%

4%

0%


do their best to study and follow the teaching of the Bible

73%

25%

2%

0%


strive to share the love of Christ with others

73%

25%

1%

0%


pray, speak and act so that unbelievers will be converted

55%

40%

5%

0%


believe that the whole Bible is true

50%

35%

13%

2%


live in a way that sets them apart from from the culture of today's world

49%

43%

7%

1%


spend time each day in personal Bible reading and prayer

39%

51%

10%

0%


oppose same sex marriage legislation

30%

31%

32%

8%


be a regular member or attender at an evangelical church

28%

44%

27%

1%


be actively involved in social action, social justice projects or working to achieve political change in line with Christian beliefs and values

20%

51%

29%

1%


believe in the equality of women in church leadership roles

19%

31%

42%

8%


be baptised as a believer by total immersion

14%

32%

52%

3%


support male headship in marriage and the family

14%

32%

42%

12%


support the current law that says a British monarch has to swear to uphold the Protestant religion and the Church of England.

14%

23%

52%

10%


oppose the theory of evolution

9%

15%

54%

21%


welcome the promotion of non Christian religious teachings in the media

2%

7%

54%

37%


speak in tongues

2%

9%

84%

6%


Other essentials (please specify) or comments

195

answered question

1396

skipped question

88





This table suggests that the majority of our panel consider themselves well informed about the basis of evangelicalism though some are less confident about their historical knowledge.


21st Century Evangelicals survey – May 2014

How far would you say that:

Answer Options

Very well

To some extent

Not very well

Not at all


I understand the theological basis of being an evangelical

70%

26%

3%

1%


I know about the history of evangelicalism

40%

45%

13%

2%


If someone asked me what an evangelical was, I could confidently answer them

60%

32%

6%

1%


answered question

1290

skipped question

229








The table below gives a generally positive and confident view about evangelicalism and an open understanding that its distinctives can be found across the wider church and throughout the world. A couple of items suggest some fear of watering down and a possible "de-branding" of evangelicalism.

1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

How far do you agree... ?

Answer Options

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree (or don't know)

Disagree

Strongly disagree


SA+A

Evangelical Christianity has a bright future in the Global South / developing world

33%

44%

21%

1%

1%


77%

One can be an evangelical while belonging to the Roman Catholic Church

16%

51%

18%

12%

4%


67%

British evangelicalism will increasingly depend on the contribution of black and ethnic minority Christians

16%

46%

30%

8%

1%


61%

Evangelical Christianity has a bright future in the UK

14%

45%

35%

6%

1%


59%

Being evangelical doesn't really matter - the main thing is to be faithful followers of Jesus

26%

31%

17%

22%

5%


56%

One can be an evangelical while belonging to a theologically liberal and "inclusive" church or denomination

13%

43%

20%

19%

6%


56%

Evangelical churches are the only ones in the UK that are likely to grow

12%

37%

26%

22%

3%


48%

The distinctive beliefs of evangelicalism are already being eroded

10%

37%

34%

18%

2%


46%

The future of our national church (C of E, C of Scotland, C in Wales, C of Ireland) is evangelical

8%

34%

43%

11%

3%


43%

Younger Christians in the UK are increasingly likely to reject the label "evangelical"

8%

33%

41%

16%

2%


41%

Evangelical Christianity has a bleak future across Europe

2%

16%

39%

36%

7%


18%

Evangelicalism in the UK is unlikely to exist as a cohesive group within the Church over the next two decades

4%

13%

34%

37%

12%


17%

Evangelical Christianity has a bleak future in North America

2%

12%

48%

32%

6%


14%

answered question


1325

skipped question


159

This table highlights perceived threats, from secularism, other religions, consumerism, government restrictions, liberal attitudes on sexuality. Some of the most widely recognized are weaknesses internal to Christianity such as lukewarmness, Biblical illiteracy and compromise. Both immigration and austerity are more likely to be perceived as opportunities for evangelicals.


Which of these social, political and cultural trends do you see as an opportunity, challenge or threat to evangelical Christianity in the UK?

1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

it could be a great opportunity

evangelicals will come to terms with this and adapt

it won't have much impact

it will be a serious threat

I don't see this happening now or in the near future

I don't know

Response Count

luke warm Christianity

9%

6%

8%

72%

2%

4%


biblical illiteracy among evangelicals

10%

8%

5%

66%

6%

5%


materialism / consumerism

15%

12%

7%

62%

1%

4%


growing legal restrictions on religious freedoms and state definition and control of religion

11%

19%

6%

56%

4%

4%


relativism and theological compromise with liberal Christianity

8%

12%

13%

53%

5%

9%


religious illiteracy and apathy about religion in society as a whole

23%

16%

5%

51%

1%

4%


secularism as the dominant world view

21%

18%

6%

49%

2%

4%


changing attitudes on homosexuality and gender fluidity

13%

26%

9%

44%

1%

7%


the growth of Islam

26%

17%

8%

42%

1%

5%


the law that has redefined marriage

10%

27%

15%

42%

1%

5%


government's counter extremism strategies

7%

21%

23%

34%

2%

13%


the extension of the multi-faith society

29%

27%

11%

27%

1%

5%


increased immigration / and the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees

71%

13%

6%

6%

0%

3%


austerity and the cutbacks to welfare provision / greater poverty and inequality

61%

17%

11%

6%

1%

5%


Other opportunities or threats (please specify)

115

answered question

1300

skipped question

184


This batch of questions generated an extensive and wide ranging set of comments reflecting on the meaning and usefulness of the term evangelical. The largest group seemed to express something of a love-hate relationship with the term and questioned whether it was out-of-date, misunderstood, contaminated by association, ill defined or contested. Some felt it ought to be abandoned, others that with some effort it could be redeemed. A selection of these comments follows.


Evangelical is just a title 'we' have given. Faith in Christ is what matters. I could answer this for my opinions but that would be judging the word evangelical by my standards. If someone self identifies themselves as evangelical then great, I support them with this. Many evangelicals would disagree with my view of what it means. I think titles like this are unhelpful and that what matters is that Christ joins us together.


There is no one definition of "evangelical". People should be free to call themselves "evangelical" if they want and can offer an explanation for it - whether others agree with it or not is irrelevant.


I have increasingly detested the term while doing this survey!

My personal definition of an evangelical is someone who is open about their faith and demonstrates it this in the way they live, it is not about holding extreme views.

Compared to simply being a Christian, the label of being an evangelical is grossly overrated.

Evangelicalism as a term is unhelpful, these days, in non-Christian circles; I tend to use 'orthodox' or 'traditional' if pushed. If anyone asks me if I'm an evangelical I reply 'What do YOU mean by evangelical?'


Such a horrible word, so misunderstood


We need to be careful about links between the evangelical movement and political identity. America is doing us a grave dis-service.


We need to be clear where the edge of the circle is drawn, and work hard to stay at the centre


What is an evangelical - why is it seen as distinct from other denominations? You can be evangelical and belong to any church.


Evangelicalism is about agreement on the creeds (of course, or we cease to be Christian) but with an emphasis on a 'bare minimum' of central doctrines: the reliability of the bible, the centrality of the cross, the necessity of repentance and personal relationship with God, and the necessity that this is worked out in preaching the gospel and helping the poor.


As I said earlier, "evangelical" now means several things and in some places it means very strict and fundamentalist, with a literal take on Gen 1 etc. In other places it is confused with evangelistic. In yet other churches it means strongly charismatic!


Evangelicalism is becoming very broad so a smaller tighter core identity is needed. World has changed since EA founded therefore need to review core. Tension between charismatics/Pentecostals and non. Also conservative and non conservative evangelicals real issue.


I could wish evangelicalism were better defined and understood in its wisdom and moral grandeur, and less often caricatured. Also firmly defined over against evangelism!


I really don't like the word (or the idea) "evangelicalism". We are one style of committed Christianity, working with all our brothers to share God's love.


I think the word 'Evangelicalism' has taken on a different meaning, more like fundamentalism.


This is unfortunate and makes life difficult for true evangelicalism. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus did on earth, full of Grace without compromising Truth... hugely difficult!

I think the words Evangelical and evangelism are used confusingly, even by Christians.


These days I would describe myself first and foremost as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and only secondarily as a liberal Evangelical in terms of theology and social mores.


I wonder if the word 'evangelical' is less helpful than it was 30 years ago...maybe simply 'followers of Jesus' which is after all what Christian means, would be more helpful.


The term 'evangelical' is perhaps irrelevant and sometimes unhelpful because it obscures things or provokes hostility. A lot has changed since 1846.


Many Christians who believe and act on all the essentials do not call themselves evangelicals or go to evangelical churches.


Please change your name!! As I've said before the word Evangelical is paramount to a swear word. Even Donald Trump calls himself Evangelical and that is what the average person hears


The word evangelical has, to my mind , negative connotations in the way that it is often interpreted by others or assumptions that are made about Christians e.g. narrow minded, bigoted, ungracious and inflexible, as opposed to the truth of what it stands for is everything that I believe the Lord Jesus would like.

I far prefer the phrase committed Christian


Think you should try hard to reclaim the word 'evangelical' - they are giving evangelicals a bad name. Those with v conservative views, esp in America are not good role models - they are good at bring vocal about their views but not necessarily about 'The Good News'


Think the word is outdated and unhelpful for people outside - and many inside - UK Christian churches. Need to appreciate the diversity of ways God works in and among people. The word 'Evangelical' sounds narrow, dogmatic and unhelpful. It either needs to be 're branded' positively or ditched.


As there is no real agreement about the meaning of the term 'evangelical', & as it is open to various interpretations (e.g. I can't understand how Steve Chalke can now claim to be an evangelical), maybe it's time we jettisoned the term.


being split between two camps (conservative and charismatic) is extremely demoralising and debilitating for evangelicalism as a whole. I grew up in an evangelical church which thought charismatics satanic.


Dialogue among Christians about the identity of evangelicals is important.

Evangelical is less relevant in terms of meaning to today's generation.


A small number of comments suggested acceptance of the label and a definition fairly close to Bebbington's classic view.


A belief in justification by faith alone by grace alone
A belief in the Bible as the highest authority in matters of faith and practice
An emphasis on the priesthood of all believers
A rejection of "sacerdotalism"
An emphasis on the need for personal conversion to Christ


There are three key points in an evangelical faith which should under pin every thing else

A love for Jesus Christ
Trust in the bible as the Word of God
A love for people


I understand evangelicalism to be, not a denomination or party group, but rather a mind-set and heart-attitude that (a) upholds the total truth and sufficiency of God's Word, the Bible, for belief and practice; that (b) has at its core the dying of the Lord Jesus - bearing the penalty of sin due to the guilty sinners - and also His rising again - which assures us of His victory over sin and His promise of eternal life, that (c) affirms the need for spiritual new birth and faith and repentance to enter God's kingdom and loving obedience to Jesus as Lord as evidence of new life, and (d) is committed to making known the Good News of God's love in Christ to all.

Several wanted to emphasize the authority and importance of the Bible and applying it's message to the present age.


Evangelicalism at its best is truest to the spirit of the Bible. I rejoice to be associated with evangelicalism.


Evangelical should make the teaching of the word of God priority , this will better prepare us for social action , challenges in politics , government etc.


Personally, I believe that the cornerstone of evangelical faith is belief in the inerrancy of Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in the original manuscripts, while accepting that these are known only to God.


For too long evangelicalism and the Evangelical Alliance have been about bringing our own prejudices and preconceptions to the Bible and using them to distort its message. A truer evangelicalism needs to develop which abandons our prejudice at the door and actually looks for the truth of the Biblical texts.


Keep focus on biblical truth and genuinely follow Jesus teaching interpreted in our generation - caring for the underdog, because of government policies. It seems we need a united voice not only on doctrines and church practices, but in politics whereby God's love rules. …....It looks like persecution is going to increase, and evangelicals will stand when we speak and act on the Word of God in love.


Others wanted to place the emphasis on evangelism and the proclamation of the Gospel


At it's heart evangelicalism should be about the kerygmatic proclamation of Jesus as the risen messiah. Anything else is just window dressing.


Above all else, as believers, we must speed the good news to others. Their eternal lives are at stake.


...you appear to be putting too much emphasis on social action and fighting "poverty" rather than on preaching the life-changing Gospel which, alone, is the only means to change people's hearts for the better.


There were several voices insisting that the traditional orthodox beliefs and practices of the Christian tradition were an essential component of evangelicalism


The heart of our faith is the belief that Jesus, died, rose and will come again. Other matters are secondary to this, however important


Believe in the trinity and Matthew 28 v 18-20 Jesus' commission to go into all the world with His power and authority and the work of God the Holy Spirit to transform us into Christ-like behaviour and lifestyle.


Break bread / take communion.


Doctrinal essentials should include, incarnation and divinity of Jesus, Trinity, bodily resurrection of Jesus.


I am surprised that there is no specific mention of the resurrection here. While the cross is central, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith".


Believe in a Trinitarian God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb.


Several suggested that evangelicalism is, or should be, marked by particular aspects of "social holiness.


welcome the protection of life at both ends of the spectrum - against abortion and euthanasia.


tithe income to the church or other Christian causes


Accept Jesus as Lord of their life through believing that entrance to the Kingdom of God is through salvation because of the Cross and Resurrection. The Kingdom of God is a holistic Gospel covering every area of personal life, as an individual and corporately, and the community and the world. It involves prayer and action, based on the teachings of the Bible in evangelism, discipling, politics, worship, community life, the environment, business and work, prayer, the arts, culture, etc.


Be impartial towards others, regardless of their background, belief system etc. Give to the poor. Honour the elderly. Oppose abortion.


Recognise that the earth is the Lord's (Psalm 24:1).
Recognise our calling to work - affirming work as useful and created by God.
Dispense with teaching that says church = good; world = bad God made the world and saw that it was good.


Challenge the injustices our nation - privilege, deceit, materialism


Live a life that reflects their faith and therefore be a witness by what they do and not just say.



Amongst which the greatest is love:



Love one another' essential


It is essential to love God first, and our neighbour. This is a higher principle than any other moral code, e.g. loving our neighbour is far better than tolerating him/her. A Christian has to be a good listener too to engage better with others.


Remember that love & compassion are key to the teaching of Christ. Be neither Liberal nor Fundamental but follow a more measured caring path.



Evangelicals should be clearer as to what they believe and how it affects their lives and the world around them and thus what makes them distinctive but welcoming to 'outsiders', based on the Bible.


Should have love for the marginalised



Such loving service might renounce power and move evangelicals to the margins.

Evangelicals contribute best to the Church by serving it. When we get into power we can become unpalatable.


In a word that is Post-Christendom we need to learn to speak from the margins, not to claim the centre ground, to speak with humility but powerfully and prophetically. We have a lot to learn from the poor and marginalised groups. We should give up any pretensions to power but speak as prophets in the wilderness with the quiet confidence of the people of God offering an alternative view of life and society.


In contrast there were a significant number of uncompromising conservative voices who expressed a narrative of decline and threat from progressive and secular quarters. Much of this was expressed as criticism of or challenge to the Evangelical Alliance.



The EA must remain as a focal point for evangelical Christians and as a watchman, looking both inwards and outwards as the Church grows and prospers even in such difficult times. The most insidious threat is always from within the Church, 5th. Columnists, such as was witnessed with Rob Bell, the American pastor, author, speaker.


The EA cannot reach out to men until it addresses the fem centrism and misandry in its publications and attitudes.

The EA appears to have sided with what has been called the "grace approach" to Islam, which supposedly allows Islam to explain itself rather than challenging it on the basis of truth. This is a road to Hell, as wherever the Truth is removed or ignored it is always replaced with lies.

The most essential feature is to keep on promoting the evangelical understanding, total opposition to any concessions regarding Islam (it should be banned in the UK and all who follow it repatriated to Islamic countries) seeking to influence Parliament over laws which are opposed to Biblical principles and seek to curb gambling, alcohol and smoking promotion.


The acceptance by evangelicals of women ministers will lead, is already leading, as night follows day to the approval of homosexual practice and desire as compatible with Christian commitment. So the Lord will leave us and cast us away as he has the Free Churches.


The "intellectual" capacity of the evangelical wing of the church has seriously eroded the gospel message over the years. Personal conversion without "a reason for the hope...." has contributed to a growing irrelevance.


I feel that Evangelicalism has been watered down in recent years and has become very compromised. I am thankful to have found a church that remains committed to the historic doctrines of the Gospel and has resisted worldliness, by which I include women ministers, contemporary Christian worship, gimmicks like dance and drama and profaning of the Lord's Day. Finding such a church is not getting any easier. I am afraid that the EA, in my opinion, has not shown the same determination to stand firm in these areas as the church my wife and I attend.


Evangelicals will come under increasing pressure to conform, in the UK and the West. We can come through this stronger I few are united. The EA has a key role to play in this.


As persecution comes to this country, there will be an increasing distinction between uncompromising and compromising Christianity. I do not see the EA taking a sufficiently uncompromising stand.


"Evangelical" does not mean the same as when I was converted 1965. Churches are affected by postmodernism, poor teaching and a dilution of biblical teaching.


However there were a more or less equal number of comments advocating more progressive stances within evangelicalism, and the Alliance especially in reference to current debates on sexuality.


I think Evangelicalism is at a turning point itself: does it insist on biblical literalism or seek to understand and work in the culture? Does it try to make the world behave in a Christian way, or do we seek to have a Christian influence on the world around us? How doe sit cope with having to switch from having political power to seeking to influence?
My own position is that we should be seeking influence, not power, and that it is not our place to seek to impose Christian laws on the world around us. I think we made a big mistake on same-sex marriage, which resulted in our influence being further eroded. I would prefer to see the Alliance emphasising the difference between Christian marriage and secular marriage rather than trying to force one to be the same as the other.


We need to focus on identifying and clarifying the important truths Christianity is based on and not getting drawn into arguments about issues that are not central to the Christian faith - especially if, on subjects like sexuality and gender roles, they are hugely important to individuals.


I think one of the biggest issues for evangelicals is sexuality. I think we are going to find it very hard to maintain traditional viewpoints in society soon, as I think it will soon be akin to racism. Also I think the majority of young people in churches (including those who are Christian, in a committed and evangelical sense) don't share a traditional viewpoint, even if they know the teachings. I think it is becoming so alien and counter cultural that the church of the future - including many evangelicals - won't find an ability, voice or confidence to hold and share a traditional view. If I'm honest I haven't worked out yet whether I think this is a bad thing or acceptable and just a natural adaptation evangelical Christianity will go through.


Though I take a traditional view of same sex marriage and male headship over the church, it isn't true to say these are essential doctrines of the evangelical Christian. Furthermore, evolution is a complex matter and in itself is not necessarily in conflict with an evangelical Christian position, cf. Theistic Evolution. Creationism is not a fundamental doctrine.


too much has been added on to what Christians are 'supposed' to believe - hence my 'should nots' above. Christ was more tolerant than many 'evangelical' Christians are and He is my model. We can't, and shouldn't , try to impose Christian ethics by law.


Homophobia should have no place in any form of Christianity, evangelical or otherwise. It is a gospel of hatred. Opposition to evolution merely shows a lack of education and is an embarrassment to the credibility of other Christians.

Please don't concentrate on issues such as abortion and insist there is a 'Christian' stance. Who cares for all these women who have not made this decision lightly but because they did not have another choice? Every time a Christian organisation goes on about how terrible abortion is, there are thousands of women who are pushed further away from the church. I can see the same happening with assisted dying. Yes, they are both awful and we don't want to see either happening, but can't we love the people involved?


I am now a member of Accepting Evangelicals (AE) so I believe you can be "evangelical" and "liberal" at the same time - they are not mutually exclusive. It would be sad to see the term "evangelical" solely associated with conservative-thinking, homophobic individuals who think everyone who doesn't believe what they believe is wrong and going to hell!


Campaigning about abortion and homosexuality is very negative. 2m women in the UK have had an abortion. How many of them would expect an accepting welcome from the church? Many homosexual men struggle to come to terms with their state and find Jesus' acceptance of all people very comforting, but the church doesn't give them that message.



Numerous comments recognized the reality of diversity and pluralism in the evangelical constituency and in the wider church. The majority were keen to develop, and to encourage the Evangelical Alliance to work for, the broadest possible acceptance and unity - based on the familiar formula : Unity on essentials, diversity on non-essentials


The Evangelical Alliance could have a really positive role if it became more inclusive and recognized how the constituency is more diverse in theology and values than the leadership usually portray it. More localised more democratic local networks federated together would help. As the word Evangelical is toxic and we are renowned for negative reactionary stances we need to concentrate more on being Good News - especially to the poor.


Important for the EA to take account of diversity of Members, especially in same sex marriage debate and reflect with integrity that there is not just 'one voice' of evangelicals. This may be true in other complex and controversial issues including start of life and end of life issues. Otherwise the Alliance is in danger of alienating members and will shrink and no longer be able to say it is representing the voice of the 'evangelical community' and potentially become an irrelevant minority.


Evangelicalism is now very broad - it will be a huge challenge to hold this together. I think a focus on the big issues that affect the church and uniting people in Christian responses to the big challenges that affect society will be key - we will never fully agree on theology, but we can find common cause to work together, and that is a vital role for the Alliance.


Evangelicalism covers a wide range of Christian views, however, where we can unite for the sake of the Gospel the Evangelical Alliance has a huge role to play. Working together can make our voice heard in media, government etc.


The way in which Evangelicals have fragmented in the past thirty years is a major concern and should be to EA. Staying in touch with those Evangelicals who are not currently relating to EA is important.


The ''evangelical churches'' have become a broader range of fellowships encompassing Reformed through to Charismatic doctrine and teachings. Keeping these in tension and united fellowship will be important together with exposing and dealing with heretical teaching that is/will arise/arising in parts of evangelicalism e.g. prosperity teaching, atonement, means of salvation etc..


Having come to faith in an evangelical setting and having my spiritual growth nurtured through evangelical teaching and worship, I am hugely grateful to evangelicals and I self-define as an Open Evangelical. However, I think a broader approach is needed to break through to our society. We need the wonder of liturgy and ritual, the action of social justice projects and a willingness to doubt and question the Bible in our striving to encounter the living God. The radical Church is much more intriguing to me than the evangelical church. At the heart of communicating the Gospel must be love of God and neighbour. This must be shown before it is told.


Needs to balance carefully the two opposites of unity and diversity will the evangelical Christian Church and graciously defend this against the increasingly intolerant and viciously anti-Christian teachings.


I think that it is vital that we do not present ourselves as the sole purveyors of 'truth' or of the 'right' way to worship or think. There are many fine Christians out there who would not call themselves evangelicals, some of whom have had very bad experiences at the hands of ungracious and intolerant evangelicals who are nevertheless faithful Christians, doing their best to be obedient to Christ. Whilst remaining a firm evangelical myself, I would be worried by any kind of movement that suggested they had all the answers and the others (non-evangelical Christians) were all rubbish.


concerned at one group of Christians trying to set themselves up as better than another. Although I'm theologically evangelical, I am not comfortable with a multi-tiered view of Christianity whereby liberals and Catholics are seen as somehow less Christian.


The Church united would be so powerful; the Church divided is a laughing stock. Evangelicals must focus on maintaining the paramount importance of Scripture for the Church's raison d'ĂȘtre and as the basis of all its actions, but if the world wants to pursue other routes, we must make our position known, but if it is rejected let us just get on with God's work in God's ways. If member churches do not want to stick to a biblical basis, then they must withdraw. The Anglican Communion is facing this dilemma and attempts towards reconciliation can only be made for a limited time. If they fail, then do what Paul would have done. End the relationship and move on in a spirit of unity.


So-called 'unity' with Roman Catholicism is not a good idea. Clear definitions and lines are helpful for seeing things in perspective.


I feel that the EA is still a little stuck in theological debates which might be interesting but will not help us declare that Jesus is Lord over all creation. Wave the flag for unity on essentials and close the gaps to stop narrow division on secondary issues.


Over the next few years we need to stop being tribal as Christians and work across the denominations/streams and theological stances in order to advance the Kingdom of God. I have learnt a lot from working with Roman Catholics and Liberals but maintain my evangelical roots. I also believe that young people will become less interested in these labels and just want to see God at work, mainly social action. The evangelical Alliance should be radically setting that agenda to work across the theological divides.


I would like the EA to be seen and heard as the Anglican Church is in the UK. I would like to see statements that endorse or embrace each other and the two organisations speaking out or supporting issues as one voice.


In an increasing secular country it is important that Christians stand together and actively demonstrate unity. Evangelicals should strive to work with more liberal and catholic (as defined by RC doctrine) Christians; this will mean that we accept that we have some fairly basic differences but work together to promote the faith and to demonstrate Christ-like qualities and action.


I think it is important that evangelicals stand together and don' t break into factions. There is a tendency in the evangelical tradition to be super critical of other Christians.


I see a lot of public disunity on social media between different expressions of evangelicalism. Unity is key.



Finally there were several comments which prioritised the way of personal holiness and piety, a walk with God in Christ guided by the voice of the Holy Spirit.

I think that the biggest single issue facing evangelicals in the UK at present centres around hypocrisy and the sense that what is needed is outward compliance without a renewed heart.


Essential that an evangelical person should seek to be more Christ-like, and Usual that they should encourage others to do so.


I seem to remember Jesus teaching that following him is not about obeying rules and regulations. It is being prepared to trust him in ambiguity and uncertainty - and it is certainly not about making rules and conditions to control other people who are seeking or following him. Our understanding of our Father, Saviour and Holy Spirit grow and mature if/when we are prepared to submit to them and walk in their presence daily.


It is how we live and what is our personal fellowship with the living Lord Jesus that is essential. .I do not believe that adhering to all the traditional teachings of the Christian Church is essential. Jesus did NOT accept all the teaching and practice of the Jewish religion f His time


Relationship with God more important than labelling ourselves as one or other branch of Christianity.


I wish there was more devotional passion about the Person of Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us get enthusiastic about the basic gospel doctrines that unite us, and place a greater emphasis on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.


I think many Christians, younger Christians especially, find the age-old battles between different factions in the Church frankly irrelevant and boring. What is important is their authenticity and the way that they do faith- e.g. engaging in regular prayer, worship and Bible reading


I pray that all professing evangelicals go the way of the Cross by way of submission and brokenness both personally and corporately that all may indeed by one until He comes again.


Evangelicals must be listening for the voice of God.


Evangelicalism is at heart about loving Jesus and having experienced Him so fully that we want everyone to know Him and learn how to live in the ways He taught. When Jesus left the earth He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us, the Bible is secondary to the Holy Spirit in terms of guidance on what it is to be Christian.

How do Evangelicals think outsiders perceive them.?

The table below shows something of the complexity in the way evangelicals think about their public image. This was a particularly difficult question to frame and many respondents felt it did not have enough options or was almost impossible to answer.


There is a clear majority who think that outsiders view evangelicals as conservative in terms of personal morality, in opposition to science, Islamophobic and on the right politically yet on most of these questions our evangelical panel think the public are wrong.


How do you think evangelicals in Britain are perceived by the general public in terms of their beliefs and political behaviour - and are these perceptions true?Evangelicals are ...

1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

Most people in the UK think this - and it's usually true

Most people in the UK think this - but I don't think its true

Few people in the UK think this - but it's usually true

I am not sure what people think

Cols 1+ 2

anti-abortion

61%

18%

4%

16%

79%

committed to narrow traditional view of the family

42%

37%

4%

18%

79%

aggressive in promoting their beliefs

10%

62%

5%

24%

72%

opposed to science

3%

65%

4%

28%

68%

likely to have noisy "happy-clappy" worship

18%

49%

5%

29%

67%

hostile to Muslims

6%

52%

4%

37%

58%

right wing in their politics

7%

47%

3%

43%

54%

doing a lot of good work in caring for the poor and vulnerable

43%

6%

37%

14%

49%

defenders of the vulnerable

33%

6%

41%

20%

39%

climate change deniers with little concern for the environment

3%

25%

7%

65%

28%

the fastest growing community in the Church

18%

7%

37%

39%

25%

answered question

1372

skipped question

112


The next table follows a similar pattern – evangelicals understand that the the public see them as homophobic, judgemental, sexist, white and elderly, but mostly deny this is the case. It suggests they are either unable to manage their own public image as they would wish – or possibly that they are blind in terms of self knowledge.



How do you think Evangelicals in Britain are perceived in terms of their demographic profile, virtues and values?Evangelicals are ...

1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

Most people in the UK think this - and it's usually true

Most people in the UK think this - but I don't think its true

Few people in the UK think this - but it's usually true

I'm not sure what other people think

Cols 1 + 2

homophobic

17%

65%

2%

16%

82%

judgemental about other people's behaviour

20%

62%

3%

15%

82%

mostly from the older generation

15%

51%

3%

32%

66%

mostly middle or upper class

27%

39%

4%

30%

66%

unlikely to treat men and women equally

14%

47%

6%

34%

61%

mainly white British

13%

47%

4%

36%

60%

honest and trustworthy

51%

4%

23%

21%

59%

kind and gracious in their dealings with others

32%

6%

38%

24%

38%

good news for society

13%

4%

58%

25%

17%

Please add any other comments about how you or others might define or describe evangelicals

207

answered question

1331

skipped question

153


The comments sometimes give a useful gloss or at least a rationalisation of some of these contradictions. Several stress that the image is based on media representations of American fundamentalists rather than British evangelicals.


With regard to the questions on Muslims and being homophobic there is a distinction between opposing false, unbiblical beliefs and being hostile or phobic towards people.


Unfortunately my personal experience shows that people think we are homophobic, narrow minded, & out of touch with reality. They regard the Bible as out of touch & inapplicable to today's world & life. Some think we are quite crazy in fact re the Bible, the atonement, hell & sin. Many sins are not regarded as such these days by the general public. Family life is in breakdown yet none seem to regard it as their fault - that they make wrong choices which have such tragic consequences on their children apart from themselves


To both the homophobic statement and the judgemental one I have ticked 'most people think this and it's usually true'. I am reflecting that it is usually true - based on their perception of reality. e.g. a traditional minded church may argue it's not homophobic and actively aim to be inclusive/welcoming to gay people into the congregation, whilst still maintaining a traditional (celibate) stance, most people would consider this welcome and to be at odds and therefore believe the church IS homophobic.


There's probably different versions of evangelical. I believe in the Bible, pray, attend church and hold 'evangelical' beliefs but my beliefs lead me to a different place ethically. I'm not anti-gay, anti-europe or anti-muslim and think women should be equal and the planet protected. Many of my younger 'evangelical' friends feel the same and I'd rather evangelicals were known for following a loving Jesus and read the Bible through decent scholarship and engagement with culture rather than trying to turn society into a conservative state known for being anti everything.


understanding of evangelicals from outside the church is appalling. We are increasingly not really known about it understood. I am very disappointed by key aspects of organisations like Christian Concern and the Christian Institute because they create and sustain the public image that Christianity is homophobic and backward looking. We need a more co-ordinated positive, modern public image. (Evangelical alliance - perhaps you could do this???).

many 'evangelicals' ( people!) will oppose a gay life style and gay marriage but that does not make them homophobic. They can share with, care for, show Christian love to and accept them without agreeing and without fear of them.


In my experience different groups in society think of evangelical Christians with their own bias. Homosexuals think they are homophobic, feminists think they are prejudiced against women, scientists think they are anti-science creationists, working class people think they are toffs etc. Many are shocked by extremes within the Church (e.g. super right-wing evangelicals in the US or cover-up/denial/failure to deal with abuse of the vulnerable by clergy); many fail to equate the good things people do with their Christian faith. Many are slightly scared by evangelical certainty about their faith and some see it as shockingly non-inclusive.


I'm very concerned that there is a Pharisaical spirit amongst some evangelicals today, particularly in relation to LGBT people and relationships, but also in relation to women and divorced people. There is a legalism and a harshness of spirit and language in some quarters that I'm sure Jesus would have challenged. It would be a tragedy for modern evangelicals to become Pharisees.


I think there probably is a class or cultural barrier which we can't perceive from inside, but which does hinder some groups from coming into church. Some of the younger generation have moved so far from Christian morality that they can no longer see how opposition to homosexuality, for instance, is compatible with goodness. They literally call evil good, and good evil, without realising it.


Homophobic is a misnomer and you should not be using it. To oppose homosexuality does not equate to fear nor to hatred, as is the cultural interpretation of that word.


The rigid, right wing stereotype may once have been true, & it still is true in pockets, but it is passing (praise the Lord) & being replaced by Christians who engage with their neighbours & who are compassionate & generous.


The religious bubble urgently needs bursting: a lot of people are not fussed about evangelicals (we're swimming around in an ecclesiastical goldfish bowl- minnows, pretending to be whales, with our inflated self-importance, thinking everyone's looking at us). We need to be preoccupied not with people's perceptions of us, but with God's perceptions of us: it is Him we need to uncompromisingly seek to please (the agenda for Jesus' Church- Christians- is to be set by Christ Himself, & not the world).


The church is perceived, correctly, as an environment for women that is hostile to men and masculinity, and seeks to shame men into fem-centric behaviour. Until the church changes in this respect, it cannot fulfil its mission.


Most people in the UK have no idea what it means to be evangelical, this would be different in the US


Most people do not know what an evangelical is, let alone what defines a Christian!


Money grabbers - from (perceptions of ) some TV preachers.


If people are aware of what evangelical means they think of us as American fundamentalists.. which is not even fair to American evangelicals who are diverse


Others describe evangelicals as weird or cannot tell the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist.


I think people are ambivalent about evangelicals: they think they do good but are intolerant.


I think many people think there is a lot of hypocrisy among evangelicals and indeed among Christians in general


I tend to think the basic stereotype of an evangelical Christian is someone young to middle-aged, enthusiastic and vocal about their faith, somewhat narrow-minded, judgemental and insensitive, who often has not thought through the doctrines they so dogmatically hold to.


I suspect public perceptions are distorted by press reporting of the "religious right" in the USA.


I don't think the majority of people relate to the term evangelical. The only people I talk to about this are Christians.


I don't think that most views are particularly attributed to being an evangelical. At best there might be a comment about 'religious folk say ...'


Bigots - because our public image is driven by the headlines created through narrow and factional debates. And this means that people rarely see the Christian love many churches demonstrate when we get on with being Christian rather than arguing about it.


An assumption is there that evangelicals are living in the past. Also that we must be undereducated and stupid and that the term means we reject science, believe the world was created 6000 years ago, reject evolution and don't believe in dinosaurs etc..


I think that many people in the UK associate evangelicals with the Mary Whitehouse era - censorship of media, and a bit "prudish"



The table below suggests that British evangelicals are generally unhappy about the way they are presented in the secular mass media. They see that stories are generally based on controversy and the views of evangelicals who express views which are countercultural, especially in issues of sexuality are the ones which are given coverage.


For some comparison with USA media Born Again with Trump: The Portrayal of Evangelicals in the Media Eun-Young Julia Kim, Andrews University https://dspace2.creighton.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10504/122278/2019-33.pdf




Do you think secular media presentations of evangelicals...?

1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

Always

Often

About half the time

Rarely

Never


Demonstrate a good understanding of evangelicalism

0%

1%

16%

72%

10%


Are fair in the way they portray evangelicals

0%

4%

30%

61%

4%


Portray a positive image of evangelicals

0%

2%

25%

68%

5%


Concentrate mainly on extreme views and/or controversial issues

21%

71%

6%

2%

1%


Please write in any comments

299

answered question

1273

skipped question

246


Nearly 300 respondents made comments about the way the media portray evangelicals. A selection of which are given below.


The first group suggest that there is a deliberate bias or attack on Christianity, especially its evangelical form, from the secular media.


There is a definite attack on Biblical Christianity, without understanding, in the media especially TV


Of late I have felt that the media has presented an increasingly antagonistic attitude towards any Christian perspective, considerably encouraged by leading politicians, too.


There is a clear bias against any form of Christianity in the media who only reports 'bad' aspects which occur and rarely report the positive impact our faith has and is having on our society


There seems to be an underlying anti Christian bias in media in general and the worst for evangelicals and Muslims


Why would those who are not Christians want to make any positive comments about Christians when unbelievers are under the power of the Satan who is totally opposed to anything that promotes the Christian faith?


The BBC is the biggest force for evil in the UK.


Generally the BBC is terrible in its news coverage, with a seriously left wing, pro-gay, atheist, secularist and anti-Christian agenda. It needs serious prayer.


Stories about street preachers being arrested make the headlines but behind that there is usually someone in the press trying to make mischief.


We have written to TV channels on occasions following some particularly and unfair presentation of evangelical Christians/Christians in general, asking them to address this imbalance and to consider what a programme is portraying before it is put on air. There is rarely any significant response, but we believe it is important to graciously raise these issues.


I believe there is a campaign against evangelical Christians in the media. It is constantly pushing anti Christian ideas


Many other comments suggested that evangelicals themselves were responsible for their negative public image, especially in their statements on sexuality and gender.



But then Christian organisation so often hit the media about sexuality issues it isn't surprising that that is the impression people get.


Our loudest voices are not our best...


The media often look for negative stories but sadly some evangelicals attract the wrong sort of attention by e.g. homophobic attacks.


I don't think we do ourselves any favours. I think to often we let the media's obsession with sexuality define us rather than focus on what is actually most important.


But then evangelicals are disastrous I their p r and highlight the issues that make them seem weird and out of touch such as sexual it and claims They are being discriminated against. Need to present good news stories


We often make it very easy for the media to portray us as extremist, homophobic and out of touch.


I don't think we (evangelical church) do ourselves many favours....think the rise of concern re UK justice and poverty issues, winter shelters etc., has raised the profile of Christians and there are good reports as well as the interminable arguments about women bishops and sexuality


Sadly, extremism, bigotry and lack of intellectual understanding is a big concern within 'Evangelicalism' and may justify the media's view here.


I think that if evangelical leaders said less inflammatory things (even if they are biblical), then the media would stop concentrating on extreme views. I would love for evangelicals to be known for their love for all and service of the poor rather than the fact that some don't want gays to get married. And the ones who say floods and things are caused by gay marriage can go jump in a lake. They make us all look nuts


There are many excellent things done by evangelicals in this country that are rarely reported in the media. They are always portrayed as being slightly weird, out of touch and prejudiced. None of this is true of the vast majority of evangelical Christians. I think they ought to shout louder and get their voices heard.


The church is now in such confusion no wonder the media is


I think the way some evangelical Christians behave, in terms of having what are often quite polarised views on a number of issues, encourage negative media coverage which to some extent is actually quite fair.


A third set of comments suggested that the media always wants sensational stories and to highlight controversy therefore tends to highlight extreme and polarising opinions.



Secular media which is anti-Christ always presents true believers as crazy fundamentalists out of step with 'contemporary' society. Evangelicals have however had a head in the sand attitude to engaging with society in the past.


I feel media want to portray evangelism as some way out sect to protect people from often.


freak of the week is always easier than balanced and even and sells more papers, makes more headlines, gains more listeners/viewers than a balanced calm rational evangelical


I think the media mostly presents the more traditional churches as boring and ineffectual. In less conventional churches they tend to look for the most bizarre they can find. They like to publicise church leaders who make big mistakes but rarely mention Christian charities or individuals who help people in need.



Several respondents though the media were ignorant about Christianity and tended to confuse terms and ideas such as evangelicalism and evangelism or fundamentalism.



I'm not sure I've noticed the label to be honest. Sometimes used when doing a feature on someone's life; is linked with American 'fundamentalist Christianity' which can be disturbing when it's described sometimes in connection with Westboro Baptist church and burning of the Koran; or Far Right. It's not understood, but even by your question you don't expect people responding to this question (Christians) to understand fully!


The word " Evangelical" is often confused with fundamentalism.


It would greatly help if the media (and some evangelicals) could learn the difference between evangelicalism and evangelism!


The media appear extremely ignorant about Christianity in general, so expecting them to understand evangelical as anything but a convenient label is optimistic!


the majority of journalists have little understanding of the word 'evangelical' in the Christian context and tend to associate it with extremism. However, there are a significant few who demonstrate a high level of understanding in their reporting. This is helped by those evangelical Christians who have a higher profile and are willing to be identified as evangelical.



I think people in the media often do not understand evangelicals or Christians in general.


The broadsheet newspapers seem to have a preponderance of writers who are self-consciously atheist and negative about religion ('Now that no-one believes in God any more' is a blanket statement that often recurs). Religious Affairs reporters are often ignorant about most aspects of non-RC church-life and teachings. Overseas correspondents do seem to focus on the human rights violations of any group and dismissive of Christian ones (or is this the editing?).


Media usually speaks of C/E or RC and doesn't seem to realise that together they represent only a small part of the Christian family in UK. The rest of us are virtually ignored.


There is a huge lack of understanding in the secular media around all areas of Christianity. Aren't all vicars paedophiles? Any disagreement in the Church is blown out of all proportion tarring the whole Church with the same brush.


Mostly they appear to be uninformed and or politically correct.


I think the media doesn't have much of a clue about the massive spectrum of values and beliefs across the church and picks the most narrow issues on which to focus; we hate women, we hate gays. Nobody's looking at the fact Food Banks are largely a church initiative; that CAP are getting families out of debt; that loads of small scale churches and charities are standing in the gap being David Cameron's conveniently forgotten "Big Society". So the media does not demonstrate a good understanding of the church, never mind evangelicalism. As a wishy-washy liberal I read The Guardian and I really hate the way it routinely bashes anything and everything to do with the church. Yes - Christianity is persecuted in the UK, by virtue of the fact we are continuously told to keep it private, and shut up.


the media have very limited grasp of what evangelical Christianity is and usually present stereotypical pictures. supposedly Christian programmes rarely present joyful and modern images of lively Christians and never of Christian events such as New Wine or Soul Survivor.. They are far more positive about Islam.


Others recognized a mixed picture of a diverse Christian community, with occasional good stories reaching the public.



I've been glad to see evangelicals like Steve Chalke getting some good press in the secular media recently. The media focuses too much on evangelicals with a very conservative view (like the EA) on many issues. Not all evangelicals are like that (I can think of many I personally know that support gay marriage for example). If evangelicals want the media to present them more positively, organisations like the EA have to be more accepting. When I tell people I am evangelical I usually have to caveat it with noting that this doesn't mean I'm a right-wing homophobic misogynist. This is the commonly accepted image of evangelicals and often for good reason.


I think the fact that evangelicals sometimes don't get great press comes down to a few issues where we are seen as out of touch, or prejudiced. I've been encouraged in the last year or two that the media has reported some of the diversity of views on sexuality for example; also foodbanks, benefits street, poverty, trafficking, immigration - there are plenty of examples of evangelical voices being heard positively in "secular" media. Media tending to report on extremes of debate is not confined to reporting on Christianity - it's the nature of media!


Not all evangelicals believe the same about all issues (e.g. women in leadership, gay marriage) - easy for media to select the view opposing mainstream secular thinking to be portrayed as 'evangelical voice' as if representing all evangelicals.


the lack of or limited presence of Evangelical Christians in certain sections of the media means that negative stereotypes are recycled constantly by lazy journalists. Looming deadline pressures get in the way too often -and not just re Christians- and time and again articles appear with little connection to reality. However, there are good exceptions and also ignorance has its benefits because some times had we been better known stories of malpractice in professing Evangelical ranks might have been aired in public. I have no stories in mind just general observations here


Evangelicals are too often portrayed as a "happy clappy brigade" who are "away with the fairies". You do, however see the occasional positive piece in the media regarding evangelical churches who are making a positive difference in their communities.


I perceive that in some areas, as a result of greater community and national involvement, there may be better portrayal.


I have been pleasantly surprised on the positive media coverage of the Archbishop of Canterbury.


It is a relief to have an Archbishop of Canterbury with whom I nearly always agree.
He is a good advertisement (usually) for evangelicalism.


A couple commented that local media were often more friendly than national.


Local media are more likely to be positive and informed when they have local contacts they respect. National media is more likely to be dogmatic about things that they don't always know a lot about. And it often depends on the specific journalist.


There is a huge difference between national media who tend to go for extremist and controversial issues, and the local media who I have invariably found to be interested, fair, and willing to allow us to share our position in the context of our community commitments.


A few comments focussed on the portrayal of Christians and clergy in comedy and drama programmes,



"Rev" was the best Christian-related TV programme for ages - in the last episode several characters talked to God personally and most of them were honest about it. This was not really Evangelical as Adam Smallbone is a fairly liberal character. I have never seen that kind of positive portrayal for evangelicals.


Just watch 'Rev'…which I loved for lots of reasons, but the only portrayal of evangelicals was of arrogant, dominating, un caring caricatures!!


I am more concerned about the representation of the church generally e.g. the Dads Army Vicar, or in Midsomer Murders the vicar is usually a swivel eyed zealot who is the murderer.


Sitcoms written by non Christians (rev, vicar of Dibley etc.) help by showing that Christians are ordinary people but they do not always reflect Christian values. Evangelicals are portrayed as extreme and unusual and not "normal".




Is the "E" word any use in the 21st Century?


In three separate surveys in the Alliance research programme we asked an identical question. The first two bold columns in the table below were with the general research panel for 21st Century Evangelicals (largely the same group of people but not an identical sample). Answers were distributed in almost the same proportions. The third survey is with a different sample of Christians aged under 35 – from EA networks but not necessarily self defining as Evangelicals. This group show rather less loyalty to the "evangelical" brand.


Which one of the following statements best describes your relationship to the 'evangelical' label?

Answer Options

1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

Response Count

21st Century Evangelicals survey – Omnibus May 2014

Response Count

Millennial church diversity survey

2015

Response Count

I consider myself an evangelical Christian and frequently use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

26%

378

29%

365

12%

171

I consider myself an evangelical Christian and occasionally use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

54%

795

52%

670

29%

420

I consider myself an evangelical Christian but would never use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

20%

287

17%

219

34%

495

I don't consider myself to be an evangelical Christian

0%

4

0%

3

16%

232

I'm unsure what the word 'evangelical' means

1%

9

2%

22

10%

141

answered question

1473

1279

1459

skipped question

11

240

316


Within the latest panel survey a breakdown by age and gender showed significant differences with older men being the most likely to frequently use the label "evangelical" to describe themselves. It is reasonably to conclude there is growing unease with the use of the term.



1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

age group in 3 categories

Which one of the following statements best describes your relationship to the 'evangelical' label?

born before 1960

born 60s or 70s

born after 1980

Total

I consider myself an evangelical Christian and frequently use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

29%

20%

26%

26%

I consider myself an evangelical Christian and occasionally use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

52%

57%

53%

54%

I consider myself an evangelical Christian but would never use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

18%

23%

19%

20%

I don't consider myself to be an evangelical Christian

0%

0%

1%

0%

I'm unsure what the word 'evangelical' means

1%

0%

1%

1%



Table: Chi-square tests.





Statistic

Value

df

Asymp. Sig. (2-tailed)

Pearson Chi-Square

24.11

8

0.000


Likelihood Ratio

22.65

8

0.000


Linear-by-Linear Association

6.63

1

0.01


N of Valid Cases

1468











The significant gender difference shown in the table below could be linked to a distinct shortage of older women respondents in this sample and a greater likelihood that older men are church leaders – for whom one would suspect intuitively that theological labels have greater salience.




1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

Your gender:

Which one of the following statements best describes your relationship to the 'evangelical' label?


Male

Female

Total

I consider myself an evangelical Christian and frequently use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

32%

15%

26.00%

I consider myself an evangelical Christian and occasionally use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

51%

58%

54.00%

I consider myself an evangelical Christian but would never use the word 'evangelical' when describing myself as a Christian

15%

26%

20.00%

I don't consider myself to be an evangelical Christian

0%

0%

0.00%

I'm unsure what the word 'evangelical' means

1%

0%

1.00%

Table: Chi-square tests.





Statistic

Value

df

Asymp. Sig. (2-tailed)

Pearson Chi-Square

66.75

4



Likelihood Ratio

69.05

4


0.000

Linear-by-Linear Association

47.81

1


0.000

N of Valid Cases

1468



0.000



We asked respondents to explain briefly why (or when) you would or would not use the word "evangelical" to describe your beliefs. Many had great hesitations about employing the term, probably best summed up in this comment.



I would use it in a church context to explain the significance and importance I place upon the Bible. I probably wouldn't use it outside of a church context, because my experience is that there is often a different, more negative, perception of the term. Plus, additional religious titles beyond 'Christian' could be confusing/unnecessary when relating to unchurched friends/colleagues/family.



Several comments suggested the word evangelical is dated, poorly understood or mere jargon or simply disliked labels.



Because many people have no idea what it means and I'd prefer people to know about my faith rather than my categorisation!


Its lost meaning within Christian circles, and means very little to friends/work colleagues


I think the word evangelical is losing its proper meaning and is liable to be misunderstood by the public. Even with other church goers I think people understand different things by it. For this reason I very rarely use it.


Its jargon that many these days would not understand- so lets speak ordinary language. I would rather explain what I mean.


I don't tend to use the word evangelical because it does not seem relevant to label myself as such. I am a Christian who easily shares my faith, why tie a label to that?


Sounds too "preachy"


I think its been misused and overused that it has lost meaning.


Because people don't understand the Greek. They understand the anti-abortion, anti-tax, anti-science, anti-black person connotations.


I don't really as it divides the people of God. But in the end we are one body. We can't judge people for praising God on a slightly different way. As long as it is biblical and it comes from the heart. I think God loves us and that's what matters. But it needs to be from the heart and not something we do because we have to or we are used to.


Others said they restricted using the word to when among consenting Christians only


When speaking to other Christians yes, but not when speaking to non Christians as I feel the word is not well understood and has been tarnished by negative use in the media. Also I wish to avoid people making inaccurate assumptions about my political views


If it helps people understand the context of my Christianity - I only generally use it with people who are Christians


When dealing with bishops and other senior Anglicans

I would only use the word once I was feeling confident with whom I was speaking that the person would understand what I meant.


.I use it with selected audiences. The term has been sullied by beliefs based on the shallow exegesis of English translations of Biblical texts and an obsession with certain passages over the teachings of Jesus. I would like to recover the term and attempt to do so in some scenarios but in others it is unhelpful – it would only serve to create a barrier.


Many talked about the connotations of bigotry that accompany the term


I would not use it outside of a Church context as people associate it with bigotry and homophobia (opposition to equal marriage etc.) and this is not a positive view of the Gospel and is therefore unhelpful in presenting Christianity in a positive light.


The word has acquired in the public's mind overtones of mania, homophobia, unreasonableness, being judgemental.


Because the media currently associates the phrase with 'fanatical lunatic' and it would not helpfully describe what I believe to non-religious folk.


Sadly the word "Evangelical" has largely become associated with the worst excesses of rather a bigoted, expression of Christianity that is "anti" so much - anti gay people and anti women in leadership. Strong personal "evangelical" beliefs have been expressed with much aggression and little signs of grace and love. Sadly again this has largely been due to the worst of Christian evangelicalism from the USA rather than the UK.


The word has acquired notions of unreasonableness, homophobia, being judgemental, no fun.


The term is unfortunately used by to claim exclusivity by certain so-called "conservative evangelicals'" who open claim that some denomination members e.g. Roman Catholic and/or Eastern or Oriental Orthodox cannot be real Christians.


Or specified that Americans have made it toxic


The USA abuse of the term 'Evangelical' doesn't help the cause of Christ at all!

When it is being used as a synonym for "fundamentalist" or "homophobe".


Less often used by me than when I was younger, partly because some Americans using the evangelical brand are into heresy, wrong priorities and issues, bringing the term into disrepute and partly because I'm more aware of the call to unity.


I now rarely use the word as I regard it as having been tarnished by the American understanding of the word, which means that it has become unhelpful


I always use it with the modifier that British evangelicals are not the same as US evangelicals; that here it indicates using the Bible as our first line in knowing what God wants and allying belief in God with service to our communities, rather than the US use which seems to have merged the terms evangelical and right wing fundamentalist


It's becoming toxic as a label:
(1) because of the way in which US Christianity uses it to indicate adherence to a set of beliefs about non-essential issues such as "pro life", six day creation, fundamentalism..
(2) because of the New Right's hijacking of it in the US
(3) because of the nutters in the UK who so self-describe (Christian Voice, etc.)


Nonetheless there were some positive reasons given for using "evangelical" as a brand.


When I'm explaining to someone why or what evangelical means.


When talking to colleagues in politics I describe myself as 'evangelical', partly as a challenge to their view of what evangelicals are like. When talking to non-Christians I meet working or socially, I say that I am a Christian.


Because it helpfully summarises my theological position: that Scripture is God's word, that salvation is through the faith in the atoning death of Christ, that the gospel ('good news' / evangel) is the only hope for a fallen world, etc. It also has a rich historical connection which I deeply appreciate.


Because I believe it differentiates me from people who call themselves Christians but are not actively pursuing their faith in the UK.


Because I associate it with modern, free styles of worship, service and approach to faith. Not rigid, scripted services and Sunday-only Christians


And quite a few suggestions for alternative labels



I tend to use the phrase "follower of Jesus" (or disciple) rather than evangelical as the word tends to suggest an approach that I'm not comfortable with.


I would probably not use the word evangelical but would say I love the Lord Jesus or I follow the Lord Jesus or am a disciple of the Lord Jesus


When other people who don't believe the scriptures and their teaching hijack the phrase to promote heterodoxy and perversion, such as Accepting Evangelicals or bishops who call themselves evangelical like Nick Baines and deny the faith. Then I prefer fundamentalist or Calvinist or Prayer Book Protestant


I use the phrase "serious about the bible" when people ask.


I use the word "Pentecostal"


Why would you? Why not call yourself a child of God


Finally a few people felt themselves to have drifted away from views which would traditionally have been called "evangelical".


As I have some more liberal views. I sometimes hesitate to describe myself as evangelical.


I don't often use the term 'evangelical' about my beliefs now. There are doctrines that I have trouble with. I would probably now describe myself as a 'cosmological apocalyptic charismatic'.


I feel today to be an evangelical is more about gay marriage and penal substitution than the 4 key values. I would affirm those, but am growing increasingly disillusioned with modern evangelicalism which seems to be coming increasingly elitist and narrow.


I don't think my theology fits into an evangelical box. I find the legacy of legalistic conservative evangelicals distasteful.



Are other identities more important? Christian and British.


In the panel surveys there were relatively few questions directly focussed on other elements of personal and group identities. The British values survey: May 2015 addressed some questions of national identity and its relationship with (evangelical) Christian identity. The questions failed to capture all the complications of overlapping identities but suggested that national identity and to a lesser extent regional identity remain important for the majority of UK evangelicals.




British values survey: May 2015

How important are each of the following to your personal identity?

Answer Options

Most important of all

Important

Not particularly important

Not at all important

Not applicable to me

Response Count

Being British

27%

50%

19%

4%

1%

100%

Being English

10%

41%

28%

8%

13%

100%

Being Irish

1%

2%

4%

2%

90%

100%

Being Scottish

4%

6%

3%

2%

85%

100%

Being Welsh

2%

4%

4%

2%

88%

100%

Being from a particular place or region

6%

30%

37%

17%

10%

100%

Being European

2%

21%

40%

31%

6%

100%

Being from another nation outside the UK

1%

4%

3%

3%

90%

100%

Being of my ethnic or cultural heritage

4%

30%

28%

16%

22%

100%

Being a supporter of my football or sports team

1%

11%

17%

33%

38%

100%

Other (please specify)

148

answered question

1687

skipped question

43


Of the 148 who ticked the "Other (please specify)" box 115 specified that "being a Christian" (or some synonym of the term) was most important for their personal identity. As one put it "By far the most important thing for me is that I am a follower of Jesus. My 'tribe' is those who are also followers, whatever their nationality." Another wrote "Being a Christian absolutely first and foremost!" Also mentioned by at least one person were Being Cornish! (Kernewek ov vi), Being a Yorkshireman , having long hair and playing guitar, Gay, world citizen and being a lover of newts.


We also asked people what made them proud of Britain. The table below suggested evangelicals have positive respect for many factors of British society and significantly were even slightly more proud of the NHS than its Christian heritage.


British values survey: May 2015

How proud are you of Britain in each of the following ways…?

Answer Options

Very proud

Somewhat proud

Not very proud

Not proud at all

Can't choose


Its National Health Service

61%

34%

4%

1%

0%


Its Christian heritage

58%

35%

5%

1%

1%


Its scientific and technological achievements

47%

47%

4%

1%

1%


Its monarchy

40%

40%

11%

7%

2%


Its armed forces

33%

46%

14%

5%

2%


Its history

32%

48%

16%

3%

2%


Its achievements in the arts and literature

31%

54%

11%

2%

2%


The way democracy works

30%

52%

13%

4%

1%


Its social security system

27%

55%

14%

3%

1%


Its fair and equal treatment of all groups in society

26%

46%

20%

6%

2%


Its influence in the world

20%

56%

19%

3%

1%


Its economic achievements

13%

56%

26%

3%

2%


Its achievements in sports

9%

50%

28%

9%

5%


Other (please specify or add comments if you wish)

182

answered question

1656

skipped question

74


Comments about British Values and Christian Values seemed to group into three distinctive types of narrative.


The first group stress the importance and enduring value of the Christian heritage in shaping the contours of contemporary social and political life.


I think that people like/value British values but that they don't necessarily realise that they have a Christian background to them. Recognition of this in the education system would be a good thing therefore. Speaking as someone who is involved in an Anglican Church, I am at times frustrated by it being the Church of England ( the Church of the nation), but at other times see the great advantage this can bring with it's say in the way the country goes (it's influence).


The government should recognise Christian values and ensure government policies comply with them.


I don't really think there can be coherent British values when the historic basis of those values are Christian and we deny this influence.


The traditional values of the country are based on Christian values and while there is only a minority of the country who attend church regularly, there is a clear majority who would accept those values today. Christian values are centred on the theme of loving one's neighbour and therefore the Government would be well advised to retain those values as a firm base on which to base their definition of values. Any attempt to devise a series of values based on multiple faiths is doomed to failure.


British values have there basis in Christian values but these are also consistent with many other faiths of thinking & caring for others, being generous, and tolerance. It is only with extremism in all faiths that these values are distorted. As secularism grows, this probably has a greater impact upon our values


The implication British is best is wrong. Christianity is what formed the best of Britain


Britain is in great danger of abandoning its heritage that was built on a firm Christian understanding. Sadly the church failed to recognize that Scripture keeps together a whole world view but in the first 60 years of 20th century Evangelicals separated the sacred from the secular. This led many British people to think of the Christian faith as a personal choice that hardly affects their everyday life.


A second traditionalist group suggest that Christian values have declined or are under attack from secularism, from government policies such as equalities legislation and from multiculturalism, and especially from Islam.



Christian values are being brushed under the carpet.


Christian Morality has all but been severed by secularism. You only have to turn on your TV or go on the Internet to see the empirical evidence. British people in my experience have become judgemental, proud, arrogant, lustful, greedy, selfish and vicious. This has all been normalised by certain sections of the media over the course of 30-40 years to the point people are de sensitised to the damaging effects on children, young people and society as a whole


Since Britain turned away from her Judaeo-Christian roots, the country has gone into decline - in my view. England has become a society of 'free-for-all, bring your own values, your own culture your own religion etc., we will accommodate you and in that process we lost our own identity and values. Multiculturalism is a farce. People of many nationalities have lived for decades in England, coming from Africa, Caribbean, worked here settled into the culture and raised their families like wise. There can't be a society were all nationalities, all cultures, all religions are appeased. I don't believe that is what a free society is about. A free society allows you to hold to you religious beliefs without giving up the national belief, which is what has happened in UK.


I am tired of the church being marginalized,and being ignored. The government gives lip service to our Christian heritage,and then wipes its feet all over it.


Our society is secular with strong Islamic leanings to which many are apathetic. If things proceed as they are doing,Christians will be increasingly sidelined & persecuted and Sharia law will rule. Most are not interested in Christian values but only in pursuing money, goods & sexual freedom,all of which are against Biblical values. We ceased to be a truly Christian country over 50 years ago & I fear for the UK's future.


I think the UK can no longer be described as a Christian nation, we have moved from Christians being in the majority to Christians being in the minority. TV programmes often show a very different representation of 'normal' life from the Christian lifestyle and it can be really difficult to stand up for our faith when we then come across as rude and backwards in our thoughts or ideals. This was particularly evident in the recent case of the bakers in N.Ireland.


British values seem to be increasingly at odds with Christian values.


Tolerance of other religions is destructive to the British culture. Especially Islam.


It concerns me that the Christian faith is no longer respected or valued and that Christians are being prosecuted when their beliefs go against government policies.



A third less frequent story was that Christian values are distinct from British values in that the teaching and practice of Jesus was radical and egalitarian, demanding tolerance, justice and love for others.


I have a fear that the pursuit of British values may lead to the oppression of people who are not male, white,heterosexual or middle class. This is where power currently sits across our society. Jesus spent time with the powerless. He also challenged those who oppressed others through a misuse of power.


British values need to return to Christian values based on the love, justice and compassion of God, couched in tolerance, forbearance and freedom of expression that does nor excite harm to fellow citizens.


I don't expect that the British values proposed by the government will be 'Christian' but I would hope they will hold to the Christian principles of everyone being equal in God's eyes, justice, society working for the good of all, having the freedom to hold you own beliefs and express those beliefs in a peaceful, non-extremist, non-violent way, non-prejudiced way.

Are Evangelicals Protestant?

British History since the 16th Century Reformation has been shaped in terms of Protestantism set in opposition to the Roman Catholicism of Southern Europe. Traditionally evangelicals were avowedly Protestant- when the Evangelical alliance was formed in 1846 one of the key objectives was "Resisting the influence of Roman Catholic and Anglo Catholic ideas and rituals in the Church of England". How far does this concern persist among them in the 21st Century.


In terms of denominational affiliation the vast majority of evangelicals belong to Protestant denominations of the church. The table below shows the breakdown in a typical wave of the Evangelical Alliance survey – a sample drawn from their networks of members and supporters. 81% were happy to use the term "evangelical" to describe their church and only 1% accepted the label "Catholic".


1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

Which denomination is the church (congregation) you most often attend (or where you are in membership)?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Anglican

30%

441

Baptist

20%

298

Charismatic – independent

16%

240

Pentecostal

5%

75

Church of Scotland or other Presbyterian

5%

65

Free Church

7%

104

Other evangelical

12%

172

Roman Catholic

0%

2

Uncommitted

1%

8

Other (please specify)

4%

55

answered question

1460

skipped question

24


However data from this same survey suggests that the strength of allegiance to Protestant identity markers is relatively weak, and decreasing. There is certainly little indication of anti Catholicism.


In defining what makes an Evangelical


  • only 14% think it's essential that they should support the idea of a Protestant monarchy.. The proportion is only 6% among younger evangelicals (born since 1980) and is significantly higher among women 17%.. but even in North Ireland Evangelicals only reaches 21%







1846 and All That - What is Evangelicalism? - Spring 2016

In the early years of the Alliance the following issues were important concerns for its campaigns. How important should these issues be for us today?

Answer Options

Very important

Important

Not very important

Not at all important



The limitation of commercial and leisure activities, and travel on Sundays

7%

38%

46%

9%



Resisting the influence of Roman Catholic and Anglo Catholic ideas and rituals in the Church of England

8%

23%

50%

19%



A united voice for Christians who share the most important evangelical doctrines and practices

69%

28%

2%

1%



Religious liberty and persecution of Christians overseas

77%

22%

1%

0%



Answered question

1304

Skipped

180






The Evangelical Tribes


Many commentators have commented that the evangelical movement has itself fragmented into a number of different streams or tribes. In an attempt to tease out these identities in the 21st Century Evangelicals Omnibus survey – August 2013 we asked respondents to locate themselves as in the following table. While some of the terms were unfamiliar to substantial numbers of respondents and around half often preferred the view I don't like labels - I'm just a Christian.


The two most widely accepted labels are Bible-believing Christian and Born-again

Christian followed by

The terms Pentecostal and Charismatic were obviously well understood and over half 56% indicated they identified to some degree as Charismatic compared with 23% as Pentecostal

The term Fundamentalist seemed to be well understood by at least 75% of the respondents

although 15% expressed any sympathy for it and 35% rejected it outright.

Other terms were less widely understood and produced more polarised responses among the panel.. with Conservative Evangelical and Open Evangelical having considerable support and Post Evangelical being most unpopular.

Omnibus Survey August 2013

We would like to know how people locate themselves within the evangelical community and which of the following descriptions they would be happy to use about themselves.



Answer Options

I would often describe myself in this way

I would accept this as a description of myself

I would be somewhat uneasy about this as a description of myself

I would reject this as a description of myself

I don't know what this means


Bible-believing Christian

57%

37%

3%

2%

1%


I don't like labels - I'm just a Christian

49%

31%

9%

9%

1%


Born-again Christian

44%

44%

9%

2%

1%


Charismatic

27%

38%

18%

15%

2%


Open evangelical

15%

30%

12%

9%

35%


Conservative evangelical

13%

27%

24%

25%

12%


Pentecostal

9%

20%

25%

44%

4%


Reformed evangelical

7%

15%

21%

22%

34%


Radical evangelical

6%

22%

25%

20%

28%


Fundamentalist

4%

14%

29%

46%

8%


Post-evangelical

1%

6%

13%

34%

45%


Other (please specify)

90

answered question

1272

skipped question

161


Evangelicals as a "persecuted" minority

One element of evangelical identity is that it has always espoused holiness, which is defined as separation from the "world". Evangelicals therefore often see themselves as a "chosen people" and sometimes this transmutes into a feeling of being discriminated against or persecuted. In recent years a narrative of "christophobia" has begun to emerge and stories of discrimination and hostility from secular bodies and individuals have become commonplace. To check this out we asked a series of questions set out in the tables below.



Religions, Belief and Unbelief August 2016

How often in the last five years or so have you personally, (because it was known you are a Christian) .....?

Answer Options

Never

Once or twice

Several times

Very often

Response Count

Felt that you were being discriminated against (for example over a job, a service you needed, or as a consumer)

74%

18%

6%

2%

100%

Felt that you were being favoured

77%

17%

5%

1%

100%

Experienced being teased, mocked or insulted

35%

39%

21%

6%

100%

Thought you were being mocked or insulted behind your back

45%

31%

19%

5%

100%

Please feel free to give details

139

answered question

1243

skipped question

87



About three quarters of respondents felt they had never been discriminated against on account of their faith and only 8% that it had happened more than once or twice. More than three quarters believed they had never been favoured as a Christian. But two thirds said they had been teased, mocked or insulted. Among those who made comments the majority was that mockery had been good humoured, mild or insignificant compared with the real persecution faced by believers in other countries. Typical comments are given below – though we should note that most are not time referenced in the context of repondents' life span.


A few people said they had never experienced mockery



As I am in a significant senior role at work I doubt anyone would attempt to mock me.


No more mocking than if I hadn't been a Christian


or that they had been favoured because of their faith or known integrity



Wearing a dog collar allows me to visit hospitals out of hours and also care homes that otherwise I could not.


Clients are recommended to me because people know I'm a Christian and see me as a person of integrity.


In Christian contexts people trust you more if they know you're a Christian, that's what I mean by being favoured.


A few felt guilty they had not received more hostility


I wish I had!


Oh dear, maybe I am not putting my head above the parapet enough!!


Some had found some gentle opposition within their family



Very gentle opposition, most often from family


One member of my family described me as a 'religious fanatic' which is rather disingenuous to say the least.


Many more mentioned banter or teasing at work usually in a light-hearted tone and often tinged with respect.



part of the banter of a friendly office was to mock my faith and life but when you know the people concerned and that they respect you beliefs (while mocking them) it is simple to deal with and respect is given even if not admitted to. They also knew where to turn in crisis times. You need to earn the right to share your faith.


I may once or twice have been teased, mocked and insulted for my faith, but this is far fewer than the number of times that I have teased, mocked or insulted (intentionally or inadvertently) the faith of other people.


The teasing is good humoured and from good friends, so doesn't offend me.


I made it clear of my Christian beliefs when I began my employment and have received respect as well as teasing.


I'm a bit of a Jesus freak and I get a bit carried away with it sometimes. There have been a few times when my colleagues have found it funny to mimic it. It's not done nastily though, it's quite a gentle thing


Though a few said they found such teasing difficult or unacceptable


I have been teased but have regarded it as 'friendly teasing' by work colleagues. I have learnt to laugh along and appreciate why people perceive Christianity as they do.

My closest friends are avowed atheists and we have lively disagreements. I actually challenged one that she thinks I am an idiot to believe in God and was patronising as a result, she agreed and said she would try to change. it hasn't stopped the arguments though and I'm pretty sure I'm the butt of jokes. Members of my family also despise my faith.


I have friends who are not Christian and they will often make fun of my beliefs. They think it's in a joking fashion, and not meant to hurt me, but I find it difficult to have to listen to. Same thing with people taking the Lord's name as a curse word.


Many felt that set in a wider context the hostility they had met was rather trivial


I don't think we should get too hung up about being mocked and teased. People in many parts of the world suffer so much worse and Jesus didn't promise us a quiet life!


I work with Christians from Iran, Eritrea etc. and therefore think we have no idea what it means to be persecuted. However, I also think that British schools are the hardest place to be a Christian in the UK today.


Fortunately, as an adult working in a blue chip company with an ethics policy, it is generally no worse than the teasing a person gets about their football team.


Being teased is not discrimination or persecution!


As a Town Pastor active in the Night Time Economy there have been some occasions when members of the public have been insulting - but only 1-2% of people we meet!


I don't think this is a major problem. Most of my non-Christian friends think I've gone totally mad, but that's what one expects as a Christian.


Several people though there were good reasons behind the way unbelievers responded to Christians



Whilst I can only comment from my own experiences and observation, I think that often "mocking" or "insulting" comes not from a person having a Christian faith, but rather how they present themselves and their faith to other people. I have only ever experienced people being interested and asking questions.


Sometimes if we're 'teased' or mocked it is well deserved even if we choose to take it personally.


The teasing and mocking is mainly from friends who think that I am am complicit in some way with all the problems of the Church of England or Roman Catholic church, whereas as a dissenter and separatist I probably agree with many of their criticisms!


Not participating or approving of an excessive drinking culture has been one minor point of disagreement with friends/acquaintances which has been a bit uncomfortable.


The once or twice was being called 'a pervert' because I was wearing a clerical collar. A clergy child abuse case was in the news


I'm sometimes teased for being celibate, which is because I'm a Christian, and still waiting to meet the right man...


I'm treated well because it's assumed my religion is personal and private.


Although not discriminated against specifically because I am a Christian I have faced some discrimination a few years ago at work because of a moral stand I took in refusing to lie about a situation. The discrimination wasn't specifically because I was Christian but my actions as a Christian did cause it.


I feel that in particular, many Christians in Britain feel that because their world-view is no longer the prevailing one in power that they are being persecuted. Honestly, I think most of this is in their heads. For example, many evangelicals feel that they are persecuted because they are open about their feelings on homosexuality, when in fact, someone is much more likely to be harassed or the victim of a hate crime if they are LGBT than if they are Christian.


I would not have been teased or mocked if I had not been involved in evangelism


I was a Street Pastor, you get plenty of jokers doing that. Plenty of questions too, which is great.


In a previous job, one of my atheist colleagues attacked my decision to only date another evangelical Christian, and to get married, as well as attacking the beliefs of one of my Muslim colleagues in the same conversation. Another colleague joked that he would try and swear to catch me out, as he noticed that I didn't swear.


My friendship circle includes some very robust atheists, so some ribbing is to be expected (and returned). I am more concerned that high profile pronouncements from "the church" lead me to want to disassociate myself from the label "Christian" and also make it harder for me to have meaningful dialogue with atheists, humanists and those of other faiths because of the barriers that need to be broken down first. Conservative Evangelical Christianity bears a significant amount of blame in this area.


A couple said the problem for them came from within the church and may involve factors other than religion.


From the non-evangelicals in my church.


Some of the discrimination has come from within the church



Some of these are difficult to respond to and depends on what you mean ... in the '80s (so not the past 5 years) an evangelist said he would have me on his full-time team if I weren't a woman!! So yes, I have been discriminated against for a job, by a Christian but is is a long time ago.



Nonetheless there were some stories of significant opposition or mockery in public situations, especially when doing evangelistic outreach or bearing witness to Christian values.

When giving evidence in a criminal court for the prosecution, the defence QC mocked me for being a Christian, a Church-goer and someone who prayed before eating and before meeting.


I actively share the gospel publicly on social media, so being mocked is a normal part of my life. I don't mind though!


Mainly through open air witness events


Not in the last 5 years, but when I was helping with a church youth group 20 years ago, I was sometimes mocked and insulted in the street by youngsters on the fringes of the group. This may have been because of my autism rather than Christianity, but the attacks questioned whether I was living in accord with Christian values.


Have campaigned on a public policy issue (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and often been ridiculed 'You're only saying that because you are a Christian'


There were also a number of examples detailing perceived discrimnation, unfair restrictions or a conflict with with policy in organisations, especially in the public sector.



I am a volunteer for a Christian charity and have experienced opposition from humanists because of the overt Christian message given.


After much thought and prayer when considering employment applications for County Councils posts in a 34 year career in every application I mentioned my Christian/church commitment. I felt it set the issue clearly - and went from bottom rung to top post through 6 posts over 3 counties. God breathed in scripture, "He that honours me I will honour" was my experience - by His grace, I do not know how many applications were lost by my statements or gained by them..


One very left wing Authority would not appoint any Christian Social workers but happily appointed Christian teachers..


I am retired now but when I was employed in local government discrimination was obvious, there were a few Christians there and they were not given opportunities of job promotion very often


I have a public ministry in both creationism and Christ-centred schooling. I am therefore public enemy no 1 to some people!


Favoured by God; discriminated against by those with power almost always in the Public Sector.


At work I'm not allowed to pray for patients, even if they agree, colleague will "tell me off"....as though patients do not have capacity to ask for prayer.


As a volunteer Reading Partner in a primary school I was told by the head teacher that, if I once mentioned my Christian faith, I would be out.


I have been discriminated against and bullied in the past (university, and work) but it was over 5 years ago.


I cannot give all the details, but I can say that I have often been told not to talk about my Christian faith at the various day-centres and mental-health groups that I attend.


Experienced religious discrimination from my head teacher at work.


Because of my faith and who I worked with, I am always rejected by big funders.


the fact I won't work Sundays has definitely hindered many part time job applications.


was sacked for refusing to work on the Lords Day


I was involved in a tribunal seeking to remove my organisation's rights to employ Christians only.


I gave Christian info' to a very ill patient who had requested it. The ward Sister took me aside and told me 'I will not have that done on my ward do you understand' I said I did understand but would not comply if it was asked of me again not in the last 5 years


I am often kept back at work late on Wednesday nights, when senior staff know that I try to attend midweek church meetings, thus preventing me from going. In response, about half my annual leave is taken up on doing half days on Wednesdays in order to make it to meetings. It seems odd that one has to do this in order to make an 8pm meeting.


At work someone anti-Christian undermined my work as a counsellor and chaplain


The local press has not covered church events I've written to them about



The table below shows that for the majority of evangelicals it is not an everyday experience to be silenced or made uncomfortable when talking about faith or it's implications. The exceptions seems to be questions about the uniqueness of Christ and marriage or sexuality where many evangelicals hold views that go against the liberal consensus.


Religions, Belief and Unbelief

In the last five years, have you been made to feel uncomfortable or pressured to be quiet about your faith when...?

Answer Options

Never

Once or twice

Several times

Very often

Not applicable - never wanted do this



Speaking out as a Christian about your views on marriage or sexuality

29%

28%

24%

14%

5%



Speaking about the uniqueness of Christ and the call to conversion

42%

31%

15%

6%

6%



Talking about your personal faith in Jesus

49%

30%

15%

5%

1%



Talking in general terms about God or religion

50%

30%

16%

4%

0%



Expressing a political opinion or voting intention

55%

23%

11%

5%

6%



Speaking out as a Christian on issues of social justice, poverty or racism

67%

19%

8%

4%

3%



Displaying your allegiance to Christ by carrying or wearing symbols such as a cross, a Bible, or a sticker with a scripture verse etc.

67%

12%

5%

2%

14%



Please feel free to give details

112

answered question

1222

skipped question

108


Among the comments offered a significant theme was that the difficult context to talk openly about politics or other "hot button" issues was within the evangelical church sub culture.


I have several times felt uncomfortable about my voting intentions when socialising with other Christians!


It's the evangelical Christians that have been the problem.


On issues of social justice, sexuality, and politics, it has only been fellow Christians who have made me feel pressured to keep my views to myself. My views on social issues are often seen as being rather liberal, even though I believe them to be standard evangelical views. Anti-liberalism in the evangelical community upsets me.


it was other evangelical Christians who reacted against my speaking about cruelty.


Any pressure I have felt has been from other Christians, not non Christians


My views don't make my uncomfortable. The publicly expressed views of groups like Christian Concern do, and lead to me being uncomfortable until I've been able to communicate my own position and understanding of the gospel, and teaching on "hot button" issues.


Again, you appear to be expecting that I have a particular set of specific beliefs that aren't central to the Christian faith. The majority of times when I have been pressured or judged it has been by OTHER CHRISTIANS not atheists, agnostics or people of other faiths.


The issue that (at the time of the survey) was very divisive and was mentioned most often in the comments was sexuality and same sex marriage legislation. Views were strongly held on both sides and the impression was that many people found it hard to have a civil discussion on the issues, and felt pressure to keep silence. First we quote the conservative voices


I wouldn't discuss my thoughts on the bible and gay marriage or transgender issues freely because they would not be acceptable/open for debate with non Christians. I think I'm quite open on these issues (for an evangelical Christian), i.e. I haven't decided on gay marriage because I don't think I have enough bible/theology knowledge on this issue but To even question to legitimacy of gay marriage in public now is a real no no.


The opposition about lgbt issues is almost always from 'liberal'. 'Christians'


There's nothing that most people in the world like better, than a muzzled Christian. They can do all the good deeds they like on a par with humanists, but the minute they speak about Jesus being the only Way to God & homosexuality being abhorrent to God---the lynch mob is ready. But we must be bold.


It feels as though any opposition to or qualified feelings about homosexuality's presentation in society counts a the new 'blasphemy'. There seem to be laws limiting freedom of expression and people everywhere ready to pounce on a person who may wish to express a privately held belief.


Primarily feeling pressure where I teach (2 days a week) at a college of FE & HE, with increasingly active LGBT rights proclaimed, and gender reassignment students. College, though, has allowed a Christian Union to form and promote its meetings.


in the context of a committee, of Christians, when speaking about standing up for the Christian view of marriage. Others would prefer to keep quiet, afraid to make themselves a target.


I engaged with the LGBT community at one point and found them very friendly and welcoming despite telling them the Bible taught that homosexual sex was a sin.


The sexuality debate is a particularly different issue to tackle. I feel the Church voice has represented it's teaching poorly in the media, with inconsistency and ambiguity, and in some cases a lack of love. I do support a traditional view on marriage.



People have challenged my 'tolerance credentials' on things like gay marriage. But in general most people just want to shout me down without giving me much opportunity to put my point across in any depth. I get the impression that most people don't want to think deeply about matters of faith just trot out the latest sound-byte. I find this a shame because there's nothing I love more than discussing theology.


The more open views are illustrated below


I live in a very 'nice' place with few people who would speak out around. I haven't been uncomfortable about speaking on marriage or sexuality because I know there are some people and places where it would just cause too many problems. So I have discussed it but only with people who I felt I would have a reasonable discussion with, even if they were somewhat surprised when I raised the subject.

The feeling of being under pressure when expressing my views on sexuality has happened with other Christians of a different point of view, as well as with a mixed group of people


Sexuality - as an evangelical who is accepting of committed and faithful same sex marriages I can often be made to feel that I'm not a real evangelical and shouldn't talk about my views on sexuality - so have answered several times to that question but probably not in the way you imagined.


I have only felt discrimination about views on sexuality by Christians who hold an extremely conservative position, I have never been discriminated against by non-Christians.


Please don't assume all evangelicals have the same LGBT views. Many and it may include me are considering dropping the evangelical label as we have more liberal views than some. I feel the evangelical movement is being hijacked by hard liners that are simply 'anti gay' ( but patronising say they 'love' them) I have great respect for people that have 'traditional' views as I did for many years but this movement will fall apart if the evangelicals think you can only be man/women relationships. Don't let this fall apart.


The marriage and sexuality one begs the question, really. It assumes I will be telling 'liberals' that they are wrong. In fact my position is the opposite, so I have been made to feel uncomfortable by "conservative Christians" when speaking out as a Christian about my so-called 'liberal' views on marriage and sexuality.


My position on homosexuality and how badly the evangelical church has dealt with it have been opposed by other Christians


I am a gay Christian It can be challenging in the church and it has resulted in discrimination from some Christians However, I believe that this is the battle God has called me to fight right now and so although I sometimes feel uncomfortable, I think it is important that I express my beliefs in the church, as much for the benefit of the church as for the gay people who feel that God hates them. I honestly think we don't manage sexuality well in the church and it has resulted in generations of gay people thinking God doesn't want them. So actually, feeling a bit uncomfortable is worth it to see people who think they are worthless to God meet God for themselves. Sometimes people in society are a bit confused, expecting me to condemn them but generally it has been the church which is uncomfortable.


I have been pressured about my faith by other Christians in relation to marriage because I support same-sex marriage


I've been made to feel uncomfortable by Christians when discussing 'hot topic' issues such as human sexuality - typically by Christians who are utterly convinced that gay marriage etc. is wrong.



Politics, (and party loyalties) was also an issue which some people felt uncomfortable to talk about, especially in church circles.



usually felt pressure from other Christians not to talk about social justice, racism and political issues. I'm quite left wing and most evangelicals don't understand that comes out of Biblical faith.


In relation to the last, it was the political view I was expressing, which I held at least in part because of my faith, rather than my faith itself, which appeared to be the subject of hostility


I am both orthodox in Christian belief & left-wing in my politics, which I believe is important, not just compatible. It is unusual in my social group.


I share political opinions but not voting intentions


Again, from people at church. (Very left wing pastor!)


Political opinion mainly told to be quiet or you can't hold that view, usually by others who call themselves Evangelical Christians. Most seem to think only their view is right and are grossly intolerant of those who hold other views.


Independence referendum in Scotland was very divisive


The Israel / Palestine issue was divisive for some and hard to discuss



I don't feel 100% free when speaking in my home church to express my views on Socialism or Palestine but in general my Muslim friends accept me for who I am as a Christian.


Another Christian told me my posts on Facebook about Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and about Brexit, indicated that I was a white-hating anti-Semite and then unfriended me...



And inveitably Brexit


I feel that the EU referendum split Christians and this was quite hard.


One Christian friend actually told me that my support for remaining in the EU was "supporting the devil and Antichrist to bring about the new world order and that the EU building was the Tower of Babel". So there's that. But not from

anyone else.


I was verbally attacked by Christians who suspected I had voted differently to them on Brexit!



In 2016 we also asked about issues of discrimnation or partnership with (local) government at the level of the local church. Reports of difficulty were much less frequent than those of good relationships.



Religions, Belief and Unbelief – August 2016

Has your church or local Christian community been involved in recent years in any of the following .....?Please tick all that apply


Response Percent

Response Count

A situation where a member has faced discrimination because of something they have said or done as a Christian

13%

153

A partnership or funding relationship with the secular authorities

38%

451

Civic events with a religious element

50%

600

Interfaith activities, partnerships or dialogue

19%

226

An occasion where it got recognition from the authorities or media for something it has contributed to the community

53%

634

A conflict or dispute with the secular authorities

7%

84

None of the above

18%

221

answered question

1199

skipped question

131




Religions, Belief and Unbelief

Has your church or local Christian community in recent years been prevented by the authorities in doing something it feels led to do in...

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Mission or outreach

4.3%

50

Developing or using a property

6.9%

79

Social action or community work

2.7%

31

None of these

88.5%

1018

Please feel free to give details

62

answered question

1150

skipped question

180


The comments suggest that with few exceptions the relationships between churches and local councils and civic society have been positive


involved in the local cenotaph remembrance Sunday service. involved in community projects and events recognised in the media!


We have received grants from our local council for Lunch Club, Foodbank and Youth Club


Very good relationships in our city district between the local authorities and faith groups generally

Our church has a community development element which is highly favoured by the local authorities.


"Shoulder to Shoulder" is a team of (mostly) men from churches in Derby who do garden makeovers once a month, as well as some decorating. The council tell us of properties that need doing and they recommended us for an award.


Our MP endorses our attempts to receive refugees; we arrange a community Carol service in December.


It is hard to answer this because there are probably things that we have not done because we anticipated opposition and wished to maintain a good relationship with the authorities.


Basically the LA has been supportive


There were a few mentions of planning or lettings decisions about church buildings which did not favour church plans



Application to build a new church building was denied several years ago, but since then an old factory has been converted into a church and community centre. It opened in May this year.


Stopped from using local civic hall as our venue


Our church is too small, so we tried to expand sideways onto land that had once had a building there - but that was denied. I don't know the motivation for that.


A failed attempt by local council to, not grant permission for building, over ruled by central government


We had a labour council fifteen years or more back that in theory promoting equality actually promoted main Muslim group for electoral reasons. Since they lost power, new lib dem group at least equal possibly even favoured Christians, partly as we were good at working together and on projects with council. One church won bid to use council land for church building as long as community use although not multi faith


Planning approval for a new church building turned down, but granted on appeal


Significant delay to a planning application and regular changes to what would be acceptable


Funding issues were mentioned by a few


Once turned down for funding for a project.


In trying to obtain funding towards building a new church hall, several bodies have stated that religious organisations will be excluded.


Whilst not being prevented from undertaking certain community projects, no funding has been available because of its Christian rootedness.

Open air acts of witness or worship (which may involve costly policing or road closures) have occasionally proved controversial



Good Friday march along the main high street made difficult


In last five years, has been resistance to allowing walk of witness in High Street on Good Friday but changed this year with efforts of new business town centre manager (not a Christian but willing to work with church community).


Unable to do a Good Friday Walk of witness through the town as authorities will not close the road (which they always used to do).


There were also a few cases where evangelism in the public square has been resisted.



We haven't been stopped from doing anything. However the local authority has approached the church after seeing the work we've done with the local community and asked us on their behalf to do carry out certain work in the community sometimes with funding but have asked us to leave the 'Religious' part of what we out i.e. not speak about Jesus. While we are happy to continue working with the local council (and they do recognise the positive input we are making to out community) we aren't prepared to leave Jesus out of what we do and have politely refused the requests they have made if the proviso is we have to leave Jesus out


We are finding it more and more difficult to be allowed to place Bibles in hospitals, Doctors' and Dentists' Surgeries


My friend's husband was arrested for open air preaching. He is an itinerant evangelist and had done this for years. Political correctness is an enemy of truth and shuts down honest debate.


Wanting to put on a performance during a town festival and the authorities declining because the performance was deemed to be "too religious"