While conservative Christians have long complained about worsening societal hostility and persecution for their beliefs, there’s been little empirical evidence to gauge such claims—until now.
Sociologist George Yancey analyzed 30-plus years of data to track approval ratings for evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. His big takeaway: What has changed is not the number of Americans who dislike conservative Christians, but which Americans.
According to American National Election Studies (ANES) questionnaires, the people who rated evangelical and fundamentalist Christians most negatively over the decades have consistently—and unsurprisingly—been politically liberal, highly educated, and less religious. But in recent years, particularly 2012 and 2016, they’ve shifted to become richer.
This trend means the people pushing back against conservative Christians now have bigger budgets to bankroll their viewpoint, argues Yancey.
American evangelicals “are clearly incorrect in the notion that hostility towards conservative Christians has increased over the last few decades,” the University of North Texas professor wrote in the latest issue of the Review of Religion Research. “But if those with anti-Christian hostility have gained economic power, then Christian activists may be correct in that they now pay a stiffer price for that animosity.”
For example, when a wave of states considered Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)legislation in 2015 and 2016, major companies like Disney, Angie’s List, and Wal-Mart deemed such laws discriminatory and launched boycotts.
“There’s more explicit hostility toward Christians in some sectors of power—that is real and not imagined,” said Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “There’s always a tendency to have a siege mentality and to imagine that people hate us, when they’re just not thinking about us at all. But I do think there are several examples where that’s the case.”
Read more at Christianity Today.