Monday, April 18, 2005

The Evangelical Scandal - An Interview with Ron Sider

Here's some of his bad news:

Evangelical Christians and born-again Christians get divorced just as often, if not a little more, than the general population. And Barna has discovered that 90 percent of the born-again Christians who are divorced got divorced after they accepted Christ. On sexual promiscuity, we're probably doing a little better than the general population. Josh McDowell has estimated that maybe our evangelical youth are 10 percent better, Lord help us.

So at least it's a measurable difference.
Well it is measurable, although there's not so much hard [data] on that question as with some of the others. John Green, one of the best evangelical pollsters, says that about a third of all evangelicals say that premarital sex is okay. And about 15 percent say that adultery is okay.

Take the issue of racism. A Gallup study discovered that when they asked the question, "Do you object if a black neighbor moves in next door?" the least prejudiced were Catholics and non-evangelicals. The next group, in terms of prejudice, was mainline Protestants. Evangelicals and Southern Baptists were the worst.

Several studies find that physical and sexual abuse in theologically conservative homes is about the same as elsewhere. A large study of the Christian Reformed Church, a member of the nae, discovered that the frequency of physical and sexual abuse in this evangelical denomination was about the same as in the general population. One recent study, though, suggests that evangelical men who attend church regularly are less likely than the general population to commit domestic violence.

Materialism continues to be an incredible scandal. The average church member [from across the denominations] today gives about 2.6 percent of his or her income—a quarter of a tithe—to the church. Evangelicals used to be quite a lot better [in giving] than mainline denominations. But their giving has declined every year for several decades, and they're now getting very close to the norm. The average evangelical giving is about 4.2 percent—about two-fifths of a tithe.

Six percent of the "born-again" people tithe; nine percent of evangelicals do. Our income has gone up fabulously over the last 30-plus years. The average household income now in the U.S. is $42,000-plus. If the average American Christian tithed, we'd have another $143 billion. More


At 12:49 PM, Blogger Threefold Cord said...

Hello Matt - I like the new site. Lots of good info and opinion.

At 7:11 AM, Blogger IndyChristian said...

Matt... Knowing that the Word of God truly is transformative, it didn't make sense to me that (real) evangelicals' divorce rate was the same as everyone else... So I did some followup fact-checking with Sider and Barna. And sure enough, when you look deeper, they've effectively (and inadvertantly I'm sure) popularized a significant misunderstanding that nearly every preacher & author -- not to mention blogger -- are now conveying at the speed of light. Please consider helping stem this misconception, and instead validate that indeed transformation IS objectively evidenced in the lives of (real) evangelicals... even in the divorce rate. You'll see when you read my followup article... "Transforming the Evangelical Meme"


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