New LifeWay Research Study Focuses on Political Divides in U.S. Churches

America has become increasingly divided by politics in recent years. So have its Protestant churches, according to a study released Thursday (Aug. 23).

More than half (57 percent) of Protestant churchgoers under 50 say they prefer to go to church with people who share their political views. And few adult Protestant churchgoers say they attend services with people of a different political persuasion.

Those are among the findings in a new report on churchgoing and politics, conducted Aug. 22–30, 2017, by LifeWay Research.

“Like many places in America, churches are divided by politics,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “And churchgoers under 50 seem to want it that way.”

For the study, LifeWay Research surveyed 1,010 Americans who attend services at least once a month at a Protestant or nondenominational church.

Forty-six percent agree with the statement, “I prefer to attend a church where people share my political views.” Forty-two percent disagree. Twelve percent are not sure.

More than half (57 percent) of churchgoers ages 18 to 49 agree. Fewer churchgoers ages 50 to 64 (39 percent) or ages 65 and over (33 percent) agree. Men (51 percent) are more likely to agree than women (43 percent).

Methodist (57 percent), nondenominational (51 percent) and Baptist (49 percent) churchgoers are more likely to agree than churchgoers from other denominations. Lutherans (33 percent) are less likely to agree.

“Only a third of churchgoers in the study had strong feelings on this subject,” McConnell said. Twelve percent strongly agree, while 22 percent strongly disagree.

“Politics doesn’t seem to be a high priority for most Protestants when choosing a church to attend,” he said. “But for a small group of churchgoers, it’s really crucial.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Bob Smietana