01: A significant majority of Protestant pastors believe the separation of church and state has gone too far or in directions in which it was never intended to go, according to a new poll.
The survey, by Ellison Research, found that 78 percent of the clergy agree that separation of church and state has “gone too far or in ways it was never intended to go,” while just eight percent say that church/state separation has not gone far enough. The poll of 700 senior pastors throughout the U.S. found that only 13 percent agreed that the “current separation of church and state is right where it should be.”
Southern Baptist and Pentecostal/ charismatic clergy were particularly likely to complain about church/state separation going too far (93 and 92 percent, respectively) with Methodist (70 percent) and Lutheran clergy (66 percent) showing smaller majorities. The clergy were divided on the issue of religious displays on government property, although both mainline and evangelical clergy supported keeping the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
02: The presence of women in positions of leadership in churches does not significantly alter men’s feelings of being appreciated in congregations, although there is considerable ambivalence on this issue among older men.
In the Review of Religious Research (June), Adair Lummis writes that the concern over the lack of involvement of men in mainline churches has long been an issue. In analyzing a 2002 study of 2,200 laypeople in the Episcopal Church, she notes that a majority (over 80 percent men and women) disagreed that congregational and diocesan leadership positions should be filled by men. At the same time, about half of the lay men and women were ambivalent about the statement “If women move into more of the leadership roles in the church, men’s participation will drop further.”
Lummis finds that the fear that an increase of female lay and clergy leaders will reduce the participation of men is unfounded; the proportion of women on parish governing councils reported by respondents had no impact on whether either laymen or laywomen believed that an increase of women in leadership would impact men’s participation.
But the survey did find that younger laypeople and those already involved in various parish activities personally felt more appreciated by their congregations than did older men; by age 75, only 50 percent of men, compared to 67 percent of women, feel appreciated by others in their churches. The fact that older men were more ambivalent about the impact of women leaders on men’s involvement may also lead to their lack of involvement in parish activities, Lummis notes.
03: The gender split in religion is particularly likely to make itself felt during the upcoming presidential elections, writes John Green and Mark Silk in Religion in the News magazine (Spring).
There is the tendency for religious Americans to vote Republican while those more secular vote Democratic, but Green and Silk write that this split is complicated by gender. “The critical gap in partisan preference turns out to be between men who report attending services once a week or more often…and women who report attending less than once a week.” Thus in 2000, three-quarters of regular attending men voted for Bush, while three-quarters of the less attending women voted for Gore.
The gender gap in voting is most apparent in evangelical and mainline Protestantism. While 90 percent of regular attending male evangelicals voted for Bush, only 77 percent of their female counterparts did. Regular attending mainline Protestants showed an “astonishing” gender gap of 36 percent (92 percent for Bush among men versus 56 percent among women).
Even among the less frequent attenders, the gender gap was substantial: 21 percent for Catholics, 20 percent for evangelicals and 34 percent for mainline Protestants. Silk and Green conclude that value conflicts, such as abortion, cut across differences in gender and religion and are likely to create swing voters. Thus, regular attending white Catholic and mainline Protestant women and less attending white Catholic and evangelical men “are likely to be up for grabs in 2004.”
(Review of Religious Research, 618 SW Second Ave., Galva, IL 61434;Religion In The News, Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford, CT 06106)
04: Christians are more likely to buy lottery tickets than non-Christian in the U.S., while evangelicals are among the least likely to recycle, according to a recent Barna Poll.
Researchers found that 15 percent of born-again Christians and 23 percent of “notional” Christians–those who claim the Christian label but have not made a profession of faith in Christ–bought lottery tickets in a typical week. This is compared to 10 percent of adherents to non-Christian faiths and 12 percent of atheists and agnostics.
It was also found that evangelical Christians were the least likely to recycle (only a half of them did so). More than six out of 10 non-Christians, notional Christians, atheists and agnostics engaged in recycling.