Americans have a surprising openness to Christian churches, even those who are supposedly turned off to religion, a new survey from LifeWay Research shows.
No matter which denomination is in the name of a church, fewer than half the nonreligious say “it’s not for me.” Their views are more favorable than unfavorable toward a wide range of faiths — Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, and non-denominational.
These findings, based on a new survey of denominational opinions by LifeWay Research, may come as a surprise to those who’ve seen recent headlines. Growing numbers of people who don’t identify with any church have gathered considerable media attention. But LifeWay Research vice president Scott McConnell said many of these “nones” aren’t as closed to church as some may assume.
“Just because someone has no religious preference does not mean they have closed the door to the Christian church or a denomination as being something that can meet needs in their lives,” McConnell said.
The recent nationwide telephone survey of 1,000 adults of varying ages, backgrounds, and beliefs posed two types of questions. In addition to asking whether nine denominations or faiths are for them, researchers sought to determine whether Americans’ image of each group is favorable or unfavorable.
Among the overall findings:
— No denomination is ruled out by a majority. People are most skeptical about Pentecostal churches, but even then only 45 percent declare, “it’s not for me.”
— Impressions of each denomination are more favorable than unfavorable.
— However, many people don’t understand denominational differences. For each faith, 20 percent to 35 percent say they are not familiar enough to form an opinion. This group almost always outranks those with unfavorable views.
One in 5 say they are not familiar with Catholic or Baptist faiths. Even more — about 1 in 3 — are unfamiliar with Lutheran, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, or Pentecostal.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press