It’s the church you attend, not the Bible you read

Article: NY Times – Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows.

Much to digest and think about in this large compilation of data regarding Christian and Jewish clergy in America and their political associations.

First point to acknowledge is that there is a strong correlation between Christian denomination and political party. Growing up attending various churches as a kid and through most of my adulthood, I’ve somehow ended up only in denominations that leaned heavily Republican – Pentecostal, Baptist, Reformed Presbyterian, PCA. That being the case, it makes sense that many Christians I’ve attended church with in the past, that still attend these churches have remained Conservative and Republican in their political beliefs.

The second point is that leadership in these denominations tend to be more strongly associated with one given party than their congregations. One particular finding I thought interesting is that Baptist congregations tended to be more Democratic or moderate overall, but their leadership leaned heavily Republican.

Third point, which is more a personal observation and related to my experiences in Republican-leaning denominations, is that within these churches there is little acknowledgment of the reality of what this survey shows – that there are plenty of mainstream Christians, and churches, and denominations, and pastors/priests/clergypeople that are Democrats. The follow up questions would be why the lack of acknowledgement? Is it simple ignorance or is it intentional?

I think that most of it has to do with the consequences of acknowledging that there are differences between Christian denominations, which would force a complex conversation about what is truly God-ordained “Biblical” Christianity (common to all Christians) versus what is human-ordained historical church culture (different amongst congregations and denominations). Evangelicals want to believe that their core beliefs are completely, inerrantly Biblical, when in fact a big study like this shows that many of those disparate beliefs are denominational and influenced by the political associations of their congregants and their Republican pastors.

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