In her recent article, Americans Warm Up to Every Religious Group Except Evangelicals, Kate Shellnutt reports on the Pew Study that shows a continued negative opinion of Evangelicals in North America among the general population. A surprising change is that atheists have warmed a couple degrees in their opinion of Christians. Shellnutt writes:
Evangelicals received the most critical ratings from atheists, and vice versa. They are the only two traditions to have “chilly” feelings toward one another. (Pew counted a negative rating as 33 degrees or lower on the feeling thermometer). However, Pew noted that evangelicals have “warmed up slightly” to atheists, rating them at 33 degrees in 2017 versus 25 degrees in 2014.
Another interesting note in Kate’s article, is how some of the negative opinion of Evangelicals is due to a lack of exposure. Shellnutt writes, “The proportion of Americans who say they know an evangelical dropped by 9 percentage points from 2014 to 2017, down to 61 percent today.” In addition to a growing sense of meanness among Christians, there is a growing relational divide between Christians those who don’t know Jesus. I’m thinking there’s a likely correlation here.
One thing is certain, aside from a small gain in the opinion of atheists, Christians are not making progress with the broader culture. There’s likely 101 reasons for this. But if we care about the Bible, the Gospel, and the Great Commission, we shouldn’t take the news lightly.