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Evangelicals chilly about Atheists, the feeling is mutual


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A friend of mind shared this with me on Facebook last night and I thought my fellow Freejingerites might be interested in it as well. The survey was made by the Pew Research Center, who isn't affiliated to any religious group. According to this research Evangelical Christians mistrust Atheists the most and Atheists mistrust Evangelical Christians the most. How wonderful! Overall, everyone is on the same page right? ;);)

 

Here is one link: pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/16/u-s-evangelical-christians-are-chilly-toward-atheists-and-the-feeling-is-mutual/

 

And another link here. The overall survey is analyzed in a more complete way: pewforum.org/2014/07/16/how-americans-feel-about-religious-groups/

Apparently, Evangelicals love Jewish people, but Jews seem a bit more skeptic. Also, Atheists seem to rate non-christians groups (Buddhists, Hindus, etc.) higher than most Christians.

 

None of these results are very surprising for me, and I don't even live in the US. Nonetheless, it's interesting to have all this information gathered up.

Edited by OnceUponATime
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I must be an oddity then. I'm an evangelical Christian (non-fundie, liberal variety), and I have a deep respect of all religions..well except fundies of course.

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I think it's less about a lack of respect for the religion and more about feeling it's being pushed on you. Let's face it, in America, Hindus and Buddhists don't show up at your front door pestering you to convert. They don't try to enact laws that curb your freedom to practice (or not practice) a religion different than their own. They don't try to skirt the laws in order to brainwash children in public secular schools. Therefore, atheists have more trust in Hindus, Buddhists, etc. than they do in evangelical Christians. I can't say I blame them. I'm Christian and I get tired of people knocking on my door trying to get me to go to their church and, for all intents and purposes, telling me my beliefs are wrong simply because I am a different denomination than they are. Good grief, I'm still Christian! It's absolutely ridiculous.

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That is interesting, but it makes sense to me. I am an atheist, I don't mistrust anyone until they prove to me they deserve it. If a Buddhist was trying to limit my freedom by enacting laws based on his religion, I would not trust him. It just so happens that Evangelical Christians seem to do that, so I don't trust them. That is not to say that anyone who labels themselves EC deserves my mistrust though.

I have nothing against people believing in religion, as long as they don't push it on me, try to legislate based on it, or use it as an excuse to discriminate or do bad things otherwise. I may not understand how they can believe what, to me, seems to be obvious fiction like Santa Claus, but that's their choice and I respect it. And as an atheist, I don't try to dissuade anyone from their religious beliefs. There is just no point as they aren't believing from a place of reason and rational thought, they are believing from a place of faith.

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Evangelism is not knocking on doors and bringing people to Jesus, telling non-believers they are going to hell, and forcing religion into politics. It's about doing good works, being non-judgemental, tolerant, and showing a genuine interest in helping people around you. You have to trust and earn the trust of people before delivering Christ's message. You also have to learn to understand that not everybody will be open to receive Christ, and you shouldn't shun them, but befriend them, back off on the religion and respect their choice.

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Evangelism is not knocking on doors and bringing people to Jesus, telling non-believers they are going to hell, and forcing religion into politics. It's about doing good works, being non-judgemental, tolerant, and showing a genuine interest in helping people around you. You have to trust and earn the trust of people before delivering Christ's message. You also have to learn to understand that not everybody will be open to receive Christ, and you shouldn't shun them, but befriend them, back off on the religion and respect their choice.

Right.

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That is interesting, but it makes sense to me. I am an atheist, I don't mistrust anyone until they prove to me they deserve it.

Something that will make me weary is if I manage to find out, without trying, that someone is a Christian very quickly after meeting, and it's not because of a small cross necklace. If someone feels the need to make sure I know right out the gate where they stand on religion, that is going to make me weary and somewhat distrustful. I know devout Christians who don't feel any need to make a point of telling people soon after meeting that they think God trumps everything else in this life. If you think you have to tell me, that says to me that your religion is so important that I'm probably going to hear about it enough that it'll probably qualify as a conversion attempt.

Even when I was devout, my church taught us that religion is between each person and god, and if we were secure, we shouldn't feel any need to wave our religion around, and that waving it like a flag would push others away.

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Evangelism is not knocking on doors and bringing people to Jesus, telling non-believers they are going to hell, and forcing religion into politics. It's about doing good works, being non-judgemental, tolerant, and showing a genuine interest in helping people around you. You have to trust and earn the trust of people before delivering Christ's message. You also have to learn to understand that not everybody will be open to receive Christ, and you shouldn't shun them, but befriend them, back off on the religion and respect their choice.

At least it's supposed to be, just like how Christianity in general is supposed to be about peace and love, acceptance and serving. You've got those who that that seriously, and then you have the tens upon tens of millions who try to legislate their religion onto the rest of us.

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Evangelism is not knocking on doors and bringing people to Jesus, telling non-believers they are going to hell, and forcing religion into politics. It's about doing good works, being non-judgemental, tolerant, and showing a genuine interest in helping people around you. You have to trust and earn the trust of people before delivering Christ's message. You also have to learn to understand that not everybody will be open to receive Christ, and you shouldn't shun them, but befriend them, back off on the religion and respect their choice.

I always kind of think modern Christians should take a more "show, don't tell" approach to evangelism. I mean, pretty much everyone you come into contact these days has heard of Christianity and knows the basics. No one needs a Christian to come up to them and say, "Have you heard the good news?" If anything, that just turns people against Christianity. However, if you (general you) make a genuine effort to be a good person because of your faith, that can actually affect a person's perception of Christianity for the better. Then, if someone asks you about your faith, you can explain what it means to you. Maybe they're just curious about religion in general, and maybe they're looking for something more in life, but either way it's an interaction that's fulfilling and respectful on both ends.

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Evangelism is not knocking on doors and bringing people to Jesus, telling non-believers they are going to hell, and forcing religion into politics. It's about doing good works, being non-judgemental, tolerant, and showing a genuine interest in helping people around you. You have to trust and earn the trust of people before delivering Christ's message. You also have to learn to understand that not everybody will be open to receive Christ, and you shouldn't shun them, but befriend them, back off on the religion and respect their choice.

Sorry if this is a really stupid basic question, but in a nutshell, what's the difference between evangelical Christians (as you describe them) and mainline Protestants?

Also, do evangelicals still believe that those who don't believe in Jesus go to hell, even if they realize that it's rude and annoying to actually say that to a non-believer?

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Sorry if this is a really stupid basic question, but in a nutshell, what's the difference between evangelical Christians (as you describe them) and mainline Protestants?

I suspect there are varying strains of evangelicalism. The United Church of Canada, for instance, which is quite a liberal and progressive mainline denomination (amongst other things, they believe that birth control use is a moral duty because it's a sin to bring an unwanted child into the world), formed out of several denominations, including evangelicalism.

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I really don't care what religion people want to practice. One of the nice things about living in a free country is that you can freely practice whatever faith you choose. What many religious people forget is that freedom of religion does not = attempt to make everyone else accommodate your particular belief system and cry persecution if they don't, or attempt to pass laws restricting other people's freedom. Unfortunately, christians, especially the evengelical variety, seem to be the biggest perpetrators of those behaviors.

There is a large evangelical church around the corner from my house. Most of my neighbors (6 out of 10 houses on our street) attend there. When we first moved to the neighborhood, people were very welcoming, coming over and introducing themselves, bringing cookies, etc. Several invited us to bible study at their church, which was fine. We politely declined, saying we were not religious. 2 families became very chilly after that, 3 continued to be neighborly, and one continues to aggressively attempt to convert us. We have actually had to start being very rude to her, which isn't in our nature at all, but honestly, I think attempting to convert someone is one of the rudest, most disrespectful things you can do. The 3 that have been nice and respected our beliefs, we have formed friendships with. They're good people, and are good ambassadors for Christ, simply by being themselves. They don't hide their beliefs, they just manage to not mention them in every interaction. That kind of evangelism is totally fine, and is probably closer to what Jesus would have wanted.

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I suspect there are varying strains of evangelicalism. The United Church of Canada, for instance, which is quite a liberal and progressive mainline denomination (amongst other things, they believe that birth control use is a moral duty because it's a sin to bring an unwanted child into the world), formed out of several denominations, including evangelicalism.

To me, the United Church of Canada would be considered a very liberal, mainline Protestant denomination, even though some of the original groups that merged into it might have been somewhat evangelical.

I couldn't find a definition of evangelical in the Pew article, so I assume that respondents simply chose a category and labelled themselves. "White mainline Protestant" and "White evangelical Protestant" are separate categories (although there is only one category for "Black Protestant").

Another aspect of the survey that I thought was interesting was the "awkward hug" relationship between evangelicals and Jews. I sort of picture it like a weird high school crush, where you can picture a guy saying, "wow, I totally LOVE you!", to a girl who is saying, "Dude, that's nice but we just met" and thinking that the whole thing is a bit creepy.

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To me, the United Church of Canada would be considered a very liberal, mainline Protestant denomination, even though some of the original groups that merged into it might have been somewhat evangelical.

Okay, I went to look this up out of curiosity, because I know a UCC minister who has a Methodist background, so I always assumed the Church was still quite closely related to its denominational roots. Anyway, it seems that all the constituent denominations were evangelical denominations at the time: the Methodist Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Congregational Union of Ontario and Québec, and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. So it was an evangelical church, and it affirmed evangelicalism in its original statement of union laying out the Church's beliefs. On the other hand, that was 90 years ago, and the Church has evolved significantly since then.

tl;dr: It was an evangelical denomination, but you're probably right that it's morphed into a mainline denomination now.

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Evangelism is not knocking on doors and bringing people to Jesus, telling non-believers they are going to hell, and forcing religion into politics. It's about doing good works, being non-judgemental, tolerant, and showing a genuine interest in helping people around you. You have to trust and earn the trust of people before delivering Christ's message. You also have to learn to understand that not everybody will be open to receive Christ, and you shouldn't shun them, but befriend them, back off on the religion and respect their choice.

Even though I like your ideas after the bolded, this just rubs me the wrong way. Basically, I'd feel betrayed if that happened to me. I'd feel that someone only befriended me to proselytise, would feel disrespected and just generally back-stabbed, no matter how kind the intention is.

edited for grammar

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Went off to google and read Wikipedia.....

So, it sounds like Mainline Protestant includes a list of groups that include some of the original evangelical groups (like Methodists), but it's come to mean traditional churches, somewhat liberal social views, and fairly flexible views on theology. It also tends to suggest predominantly white, somewhat comfortable groups in the north-east.

OTOH, evangelical came of out some of the same roots as mainline Protestants, but today means groups that focus strongly on salvation through faith in Christ's atonement, that have fairly conservative theology (such as a literal interpretation of the Bible), but that focus more on outreach to non-believers than Fundamentalist groups. So, I get the sense that an evangelical and a fundie may have the same basic beliefs, including the belief that the Bible should be read literally and is 100% true and that the only way to avoid hell is to believe in Jesus, but a fundie may homeschool and wear a frumper and do courtship and live a pretty distinct "separate" lifestyle while an evangelical might attend a popular mega-church in the Bible Belt in jeans, as a single/divorced parent with pregnant teen in tow.

I don't actually know many non-ethnic, non-Catholic, non-white devout Christians IRL, so it's all new to me and I'm just going by what I read. Most of the evangelicals that I know IRL are Asian, and aren't included anywhere in the Pew study.

So. evangelical FJers - is this right, or am I off-base?

To follow-up from Samuri_sarah - for evangelicals, what is the purpose of helping and befriending? Is it considered something that is good on its own, or is it mostly considered to be part of a good PR and outreach campaign that is ultimately judged on whether souls are won?

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I always kind of think modern Christians should take a more "show, don't tell" approach to evangelism. I mean, pretty much everyone you come into contact these days has heard of Christianity and knows the basics. No one needs a Christian to come up to them and say, "Have you heard the good news?" If anything, that just turns people against Christianity. However, if you (general you) make a genuine effort to be a good person because of your faith, that can actually affect a person's perception of Christianity for the better. Then, if someone asks you about your faith, you can explain what it means to you. Maybe they're just curious about religion in general, and maybe they're looking for something more in life, but either way it's an interaction that's fulfilling and respectful on both ends.

Exactly.

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1) SOME Protestant denominations only care about "winning soldiers for Christ" (and fundies in controlling every aspect of a person's life) not in showing love towards or helping people regardless of the person's faith or lack of faith. Notice I stressed the word some. Obviously not all Protestants share the same beliefs when it comes to evangelism.

2) God decides who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. It's out of my hands, and not up to me to question. I would never tell anyone they are going to Hell since that is stating something that only God will determine.

I speak only for my own personal beliefs and how my church evangelizes. I have a deep respect for all religions and Atheists. What I do not respect is using religion to manipulate, shame, and scare people, and people who claim to speak for God.

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Even though I like your ideas after the bolded, this just rubs me the wrong way. Basically, I'd feel betrayed if that happened to me. I'd feel that someone only befriended me to proselytise, would feel disrespected and just generally back-stabbed, no matter how kind the intention is.

edited for grammar

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to infer befriending just to proselytise. That's not what I meant at all, and something I have never done. You are right. That is disrespectful. The people I befriend in life, I want keep in my life. Again, I'n sorry. It was a bad choice of words.

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Went off to google and read Wikipedia.....

So, it sounds like Mainline Protestant includes a list of groups that include some of the original evangelical groups (like Methodists), but it's come to mean traditional churches, somewhat liberal social views, and fairly flexible views on theology. It also tends to suggest predominantly white, somewhat comfortable groups in the north-east.

OTOH, evangelical came of out some of the same roots as mainline Protestants, but today means groups that focus strongly on salvation through faith in Christ's atonement, that have fairly conservative theology (such as a literal interpretation of the Bible), but that focus more on outreach to non-believers than Fundamentalist groups. So, I get the sense that an evangelical and a fundie may have the same basic beliefs, including the belief that the Bible should be read literally and is 100% true and that the only way to avoid hell is to believe in Jesus, but a fundie may homeschool and wear a frumper and do courtship and live a pretty distinct "separate" lifestyle while an evangelical might attend a popular mega-church in the Bible Belt in jeans, as a single/divorced parent with pregnant teen in tow.

I don't actually know many non-ethnic, non-Catholic, non-white devout Christians IRL, so it's all new to me and I'm just going by what I read. Most of the evangelicals that I know IRL are Asian, and aren't included anywhere in the Pew study.

So. evangelical FJers - is this right, or am I off-base?

To follow-up from Samuri_sarah - for evangelicals, what is the purpose of helping and befriending? Is it considered something that is good on its own, or is it mostly considered to be part of a good PR and outreach campaign that is ultimately judged on whether souls are won?

It is something considered good on it's own. It's not just for PR. Outreach, yes for those who are in need (physical needs that is). As for the rest of your post each Protestant denomination and each church has it's own teachings. Mine doesn't teach fundiesm.

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That's what I assumed you meant. Befriend someone because you care about them and want to be their friend. If personal religious beliefs happen to come up in normal conversation, go ahead and share. Feel free to invite the person to church/bible study if you want. If they refuse, accept no for an answer and move on. Respect each other's beliefs, and agree to disagree.

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the biggest problem with evangelicals and the duggers and such is they don't respect other faiths but expect respect. it is impossible to be respected until you can respect others. to think you deserve respect when you can't show others respect is a fools dream. But hey when you think you are better then others that happens.

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To me, the United Church of Canada would be considered a very liberal, mainline Protestant denomination, even though some of the original groups that merged into it might have been somewhat evangelical.

I couldn't find a definition of evangelical in the Pew article, so I assume that respondents simply chose a category and labelled themselves. "White mainline Protestant" and "White evangelical Protestant" are separate categories (although there is only one category for "Black Protestant").

Another aspect of the survey that I thought was interesting was the "awkward hug" relationship between evangelicals and Jews. I sort of picture it like a weird high school crush, where you can picture a guy saying, "wow, I totally LOVE you!", to a girl who is saying, "Dude, that's nice but we just met" and thinking that the whole thing is a bit creepy.

Bolded! Yes, can we talk about that aspect. For some reason, it made me think of the Duggars. We have seen of couple of the kids with israeli flag on their luggage or with a star of David here and there and it does make me a bit uncomfortable. I know they went on a trip to Israel so it's probably only souvenirs from there but I wonder if they understand the significance of these symbols for Jewish people. I knew a girl in college who wore a star of David necklace, but you know.... she was Jewish!

Isn't there also a link between the rapture and the Jews of the world gathering all together in the holy land? I heard once that a lot of fundamentalist Christians and even non-fundie churches supported Israel because it was a sign of the second coming of Christ. I'm really no expert of ''the end of the world theology''. Can other FJers enlighten me please?

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That's what I assumed you meant. Befriend someone because you care about them and want to be their friend. If personal religious beliefs happen to come up in normal conversation, go ahead and share. Feel free to invite the person to church/bible study if you want. If they refuse, accept no for an answer and move on. Respect each other's beliefs, and agree to disagree.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant.

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I'm sorry. I didn't mean to infer befriending just to proselytise. That's not what I meant at all, and something I have never done. You are right. That is disrespectful. The people I befriend in life, I want keep in my life. Again, I'n sorry. It was a bad choice of words.

Thanks for clarifying! :) And I wasn't trying to imply that you would do that, sorry about that.

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