01: In less than a decade, American women have become significantly more accepting of religious involvement and activism in politics, according to a survey by the Center for Gender Equality, a feminist group.
The survey found that respondents were divided 50-50 on the issue of whether politicians should be guided by religious values or whether “religion and politics shouldn’t mix.” A similar survey conducted in 1992 found that 63 percent of women said religion and politics shouldn’t mix. The 1998 poll showed 76 percent of women think religious leaders and groups have a “somewhat positive” or “very positive” effect on the country. Responding to questions about the influence of such groups on government, politics and public schools, respondents showed little worry that it was excessive.
The survey also suggests that American women are becoming more religious, with 75 percent viewing religion as “very important” in their lives — increasing six percent from 1996. Women who said they prayed daily increased 11 percent in the same time period. Those identifying themselves as “born-again or evangelical Christian” totaled 51 percent, a jump of 6 percent since 1996. On the issue of abortion, slightly over half of respondents said it should be illegal except for rape, incest and saving a woman’s life, or else forbidden in all cases. This is an 8 percent shift away from abortion rights in a survey conducted two years ago. An Associated Press report (Jan. 28) quotes Diane Colasanto of Princeton Survey Research — which conducted the survey–as saying that “The changes on abortion are pretty dramatic.”
02: Although Christian radio stations attract large numbers of evangelical Christians to their programming, such broadcasting also has a large non-“born-again” listenership. according to a recent Barna Poll.
A survey by the Barna Research Group (Jan. 25 Barna News Release) finds that one-third (36 percent) of the listening base for Christian radio is not born again Christians. Among all of the evangelical adults in the U.S., almost half (48 percent) listen in a typical week. There is a definite graying pattern to Christian radio listeners. People in their seventies and eighties are the most loyal audience (64 percent listen). Baby busters are the least likely to listen (23 percent).
(Barna Research Group, 5528 Everglades St., Ventura, CA 93003)
03: There has been a small but steady growth of giving by Protestant church members, and at the same time, a decline in offerings for programs outside the local congregation, according to a recent survey.
The study, conducted by Empty Tomb Inc., a Christian research organization, finds that among 29 Protestant denominations, there has been an increase in giving to 2.6 percent of members’ disposable income from 2.5 percent in 1994. On the downside, there has been a gradual decline in the proportion of giving to “benevolences” beyond the local congregation.
Church members gave about 0.7 percent of their per capita income to such causes in 1968, but only 0.4 percent in the 1990s.