‘Christians are engaging in politics to a far greater degree than the average British citizen, and their weapon of choice is social media, new research shows. The research also finds that their range of concerns goes far beyond the stereotyped moralising viewpoint.’
This is one of the principal conclusions drawn by the Evangelical Alliance from its new report, in partnership with 10 other organizations forming its Research Club. Entitled 21st Century Evangelicals: Are We Communicating? it is available at:
The data derive from online fieldwork during August 2011. 3,424 evangelical Christians who had previously signified willingness to participate in online research were emailed to complete a questionnaire hosted by Survey Monkey. Of these, 1,161 (or 40%, discounting bounced emails) took part.
The sample is, therefore, a self-selecting panel and not necessarily representative of evangelical Christians in the UK, still less practising Christians as a whole.
It probably is somewhat skewed towards the online-savvy and younger end of the evangelical spectrum. However, potential methodological limitations are not discussed in detail, despite the existence of six ‘academic research advisors’.
92% of individuals completing the survey described themselves as evangelicals (with 6% unsure), and 28% were personal members of the Evangelical Alliance. Anglicans (36%), Baptists (16%), and charismatics (14%) predominated among interviewees.
The political activism of respondents was demonstrated by the fact that, in the past year, 81% had signed an online petition, 71% had signed a paper petition, 57% had forwarded campaign information online, 52% had emailed a politician, and 44% had posted comments on a website.
These, and other, figures of participation were higher than those for the general public as captured in the Hansard Society’s Audit of Political Engagement, 8: The 2011 Report. For example, only 36% of the public had signed an online petition.
As well as traditional evangelical Christian causes, ‘there were also widely held concerns about fair trade, world poverty, human trafficking, debt, poverty in the UK, NHS reform, pensions, homelessness, public sector cuts, Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Sky TV, and many local concerns such as Sunday parking charges and environmental issues.’
Other statistical highlights from Are We Communicating? include the following:
- 92% had spoken to somebody face-to-face on the day of the survey, against 77% who had used email to communicate that day, and 74% the telephone
- 94% agreed that God often speaks directly to people, not merely through the Bible but in other ways, and only 5% felt that they had never been given a message from God
- 88% agreed the internet provides an excellent way for churches and Christian agencies to communicate with their supporters, and 76% to share the gospel with the wider public
- 46% had posted messages on Facebook or other social networking sites in the past week, a further 24% less recently, and 31% never – but 76% had never used Twitter
- 61% claimed to have tried to convert somebody to Christianity during the previous year, but just 20% had ever spoken in public with an evangelistic intent
- 85% believed that local churches have little or no influence on society as a whole, and one-third that official spokespeople of Churches nationally make no impact at all (most of the rest saying only a little impact)
Are We Communicating? is the second of what is promised to be a series of quarterly reports on surveys conducted among this panel of evangelical Christians. BRIN’s coverage of the first (September 2011) report on Does Belief Touch Society? will be found at: