The UK’s evangelical Christians are far more likely to be active in their communities than the average person, according to a new report from the Evangelical Alliance – Does Belief Touch Society? – published on 5 September. Hard copies can be purchased at £3 from the Alliance (at 186 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4BT) or the report can be downloaded for free from:
The publication is numbered as Series A, Issue 1 in a collection of reports on 21st Century Evangelicals, following on from the document of the same name released at the start of the year, and based upon 17,300 responses by Christians aged 16 and over in 2010 to a questionnaire devised by Christian Research on behalf of the Alliance. The sample divided between attenders at seven Christian festivals in the UK and congregants at 35 churches randomly selected from the Alliance’s membership. See the BRIN post of 12 January 2011 for further details:
Does Belief Touch Society? derives from a panel of 3,300 of the original 17,300 evangelicals who signed up to take part in further enquiries, of whom 1,151 participated in this first survey, which was conducted online around Easter 2011. Given the self-selecting nature of the micro-sample, and the methodology deployed for the 2010 study, there is a risk that the respondents to Does Belief Touch Society? may not be fully representative of the approximately two million evangelical Christians in the UK estimated by Tearfund in 2007. The Alliance concedes in the report (p. 3) that it has been unable to weight its findings and that younger people and ethnic minorities may be under-represented in the panel.
On the doctrine of the cross, 99% of evangelicals agreed or strongly agreed that the message of the cross had made a huge difference in their lives, 91% strongly agreed that Christ’s blood is the final and only effective sacrifice for human sin, 89% strongly agreed that Jesus Christ defeated the powers of evil through His death, and 84% strongly agreed that God Himself was suffering in Christ for humankind in the crucifixion. However, only 51% agreed that at the cross God poured out His holy anger upon His son, with 27% dissenting and 22% unsure.
On the Resurrection, 91% agreed or strongly agreed that Jesus rose from the tomb with a physical body, 91% agreed or strongly agreed that at the end all who have died will be raised to face judgment, 85% strongly agreed that after death Christian believers will enjoy everlasting life, 82% strongly agreed that belief in the Resurrection shaped the way they lived now, and 78% were very confident that they would enjoy everlasting life on their own death.
On Easter observance, 95% had worshipped on Easter Sunday but far fewer (65% overall and just 52% of under-35s) on Good Friday. 45% had attended a special church event in the week before Easter, and 41% took part in a public act of witness or evangelistic outreach over Easter. Under one-third had given up or taken up something during Lent, with women and younger people significantly more likely to do so.
In terms of civic participation, evangelicals were far more likely than the average citizen to be trustees of a charity, school governors, members of a political party, local councillors, and magistrates, but trade union membership was about the national norm.
On politics, 91% intended to or had voted in the 5 May 2011 elections and referendum (compared with a UK-wide turnout of 42%), with 38% in favour of and 39% opposed to the Alternative Vote. Evangelicals were equally divided about the military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, but 80% were emphatic in opposing the legal status of marriage being extended to same-sex partnerships.