The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
A Pew research survey shows that most US evangelicals think being stingy is more sinful than divorce.
According to almost half (48%) of white evangelicals who attend church weekly, refusing to give money to charity while living in luxury is a sin. 36% of black Protestants (two-thirds of whom identify as evangelicals) feel the same way, a new report from the Pew Research Center said.
Most evangelicals agree that having luxuries in and of themselves is not wrong: 74% of all weekly worshippers said that living in a larger house than a family needs is not sinful. Fewer people condemn having a lot of square feet than condemn drinking alcohol or using energy without thinking about its environmental impact. Roughly 1 in 5 weekly worshippers say each is a sin.
STINGINESS, MORE SINFUL THAN DIVORCE
Being stingy with charitable giving draws more condemnation than divorce. Only 37% of white evangelicals who worship weekly told Pew that divorce was a sin. So did a quarter 26% of all black Protestants.
Probably the reason of this attitude toward divorce could be related to its frequency. The percentage of Americans who have divorced has almost doubled over the past 53 years; from 24% 45%, according to University of Connecticut sociologist Bradley Wright.
Only 38% of evangelical Christians who attend church weekly have divorced, compared with 50% of evangelicals who attend monthly and 62% of those who attend once a year or less.
ABORTION AND HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOUR
Among other actions examined by Pew, getting an abortion was deemed sinful by about 70% of white evangelicals along with about 60 percent of black Protestants.
Engaging in homosexual behaviour was also judged a sin by about 70%.
On the other side, using contraceptives was deemed sinful by only 9% of white evangelicals, 15% of black Protestants, and 16% of weekly worshipers.
Not only is getting a divorce more acceptable than not giving to charity, it’s also more acceptable than living with a romantic partner outside of marriage. Pew found that 64% of white evangelicals, 61% and 57% of black Protestants said cohabiting was a sin.
But when cohabitation involves children, the answers were more nuanced.
About 4 in 10 white evangelicals said that cohabiting parents are an acceptable child-rearing arrangement, albeit not as good as other arrangements.
The acceptability of cohabitation goes down a bit if there are no children involved, although 62% of white evangelicals, 63% of weekly worshippers, and 69% of black Protestants said the arrangement was acceptable, if not ideal.