Christian Right Not Responsible for People Leaving Church, Study Finds

"Differences and disagreements at the congregational level are more likely to drive people away from the Church, they conclude." CPost

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Michelle's picture

"The effect of feeling different has no effect [on decisions to leave the Church] if the individual is well integrated into the life of the church," Djupe and Neiheisel wrote.

... other factors — extensive friendship networks, feelings of belonging and valuing particular aspects of the congregation — boosted attendance.

 

Steve Newman's picture

Though politics was found to be a small factor, the congregations where it did matter were, by far, mostly Mainline Protestant. Twenty-nine percent of congregations had the conditions for which politics made decreased attendance (high average levels of political activism with a significant minority who were inactive politically). This included 22 percent of Evangelical congregations, 19 percent of Catholic parishes and 22 percent of Black Protestant congregations. For Mainline Protestants, however, almost two-thirds, 65 percent, had the conditions for which politics drove down church attendance.

Looks like "politics" is much more of a problem in liberal churches!

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Steve Newman wrote:

Looks like "politics" is much more of a problem in liberal churches!

Given that a very large part of the reason for existence of such churches is social gospel and politics, this isn't very surprising.  Once the true Gospel is no longer the focus, they need something else.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

It would be interesting to see what role politics has in people never joining a church.  I have got to believe that, whether on the left or right, some of the things I've seen posted on bulletin boards and/or said in Sunday School or even worship would make me question whether the people running the place were at all interested in this "God" guy, or whether they viewed the church as simply the tax-free wing of the Democratic or Republican party--or probably more accurately, the tax-free wing of MoveOn.org or Pat Robertson's PAC.  

No objection, of course, to using the Scriptures in its proper context to guide our political views.  What I'm referring to--on "our" side of the aisle as it were--is things like people saying "Obama is a Muslim".  And though I've got no numbers to prove it, I suspect this kind of thing does keep people from hearing the Gospel.

To Steve's (good) point, I've been in liberal churches and in conservative ones, and one thing I always noted is that in mainline liberal churches, the intellectual center is in the cities, which are more progressive.  So what appears to be going on is that the moderate wing of the GOP is leaving mainline churches as the liberal seminaries get more and more "out there".  One note of caution for "us" is that they may be joining evangelical and fundamental churches without really going in for evangelical and fundamental theology.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Steve Newman's picture

The other (unseen) factor may be that conservative churches have more unity based on Christ and doctrine rather than politics. To me, this is the unseen factor. I can and do have church member friends who have different politics. But when politics has to be the unifying factor, that strikes me as almost impossible. The other item I would put out is that younger Christians seem to have a great fear of taking a political stand and being identified with conservative politics. This may be fear spread by mainstream media.