Home Church Survey: Evangelical label, beliefs often at odds by Bob Smietana

Survey: Evangelical label, beliefs often at odds by Bob Smietana

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NASHVILLE (BP) — About one in four Americans say they are evangelical Christians. Most of them are white, live in the South and identify as Republican. Many go to church every week.

But they’re not always sure what they believe.

Fewer than half of those who identify as evangelicals (45 percent) strongly agree with core evangelical beliefs, according to a survey by LifeWay Research released Dec. 5.

“There’s a gap between who evangelicals say they are and what they believe,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, based in Nashville.

And a significant number of evangelical believers reject the term “evangelical.” Only two-thirds (69 percent) of evangelicals by belief self-identify as evangelicals.

Beliefs & belonging

For the past few years, LifeWay Research has been looking at the intersection of belief and belonging in the evangelical movement.

Some research studies define “evangelical” by self-identification, with respondents picking from a list of religious traditions. Others categorize people as evangelical by the churches they identify with.

In this new survey, LifeWay used a set of four questions about the Bible, Jesus, salvation and evangelism developed in partnership with the National Association of Evangelicals. Those who strongly agree with all four are considered to be evangelicals by belief.

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