Most U.S. Protestant pastors see Islam as dangerous – survey
Here’s an interesting survey that was released on Monday by LifeWay Research, which is the number crunching arm of the South Baptist Convention, America’s largest evangelical group.
It says that two-thirds of Protestant pastors in America regard Islam as a dangerous religion. You can see their press release here. The full survey has not been posted on their site.
But in a nut shell, the survey of over 1,000 pastors of different Protestant denominations found that 45 percent strongly agreed with the statement “I believe Islam is a dangerous religion,” while 21 percent agreed to it “somewhat.”
The survey was conducted in October, before the massacre at the Fort Hood army base in Texas allegedly by a Muslim soldier.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said: “… our survey asked whether pastors viewed Islam as ‘dangerous,’ but that does not necessarily mean ‘violent.’ ‘Dangerous’ can be defined in a variety of ways, including from the perspective of spiritual influence. Regardless of the definition, the numbers tell us that Protestant pastors are concerned.”
Given the very conservative cast of the SBC and strong evangelical Protestant support over the years for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some people will automatically take the survey with a grain of salt. But the survey did include clergy from mainline Protestant denominations as well as evangelicals.
Not surprisingly, it found that: “Mainline denomination pastors are less likely than evangelicals to say Islam is “a dangerous religion.” While 77 percent of evangelical pastors either somewhat or strongly agree Islam is dangerous, only 44 percent of mainline pastors feel the same way, and 38 percent strongly disagree.”
It also asked about partisan affiliation and found, according to its release, that: ”The majority of pastors affiliated with the Democratic Party are more likely to strongly disagree than Republicans or Independents. While 61 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of Independents strongly agree Islam is dangerous, only 16 percent of Democrats feel the same way, and 52 percent of Democrats strongly disagree.”
Rural and small town pastors were also more likely than their big city and suburban counterparts to agree with the statement. The same was true of politically conservative pastors compared to those of a liberal bent.
None of this is surprising though one could ask why there are such concerns in rural America — assuming that the men of the cloth reflect their flocks’ outlook — when much of America’s Muslim population is concentrated in urban areas? What do you think?