IFAS | Freedom Writer | September/October 1997 | survey.html

Survey shows intolerance
among Christian activists

Akron, Ohio About a third of the respondents to a survey sent to Christian activists maintained that the American Civil Liberties Union was the most dangerous group in America. The second most dangerous were gay rights groups. And 5% of the respondents said militias were the most dangerous.

Traditional American values scored very low among the conservative Christian activists surveyed. About 80% declared that members of the above "dangerous groups" should not be allowed to: make a public speech, run for public office, demonstrate in public, or operate legally. Only 44% said these "dangerous ones" should not be allowed to teach in public schools.

In cooperation with the Institute for First Amendment Studies, the Bliss Institute, of the University of Ohio, conducted a 1997 survey of conservative Christian activists. Of the 1200 contacted, about 600 responded to the comprehensive survey. The results represent a cross-section of between 200,000 and 400,000 Americans.

The respondents were almost all white (97%) and a majority were male (62%). Seventy percent had college degrees (of which 47% claimed post-grad degrees). Income level was moderate, with 65% earning $50,000 or more a year. Fifteen percent earned more than $150,000 a year.

Almost 100% surveyed identified themselves as one form or another of conservative Christian, with 71% stating specifically, evangelical Protestant. Eighty-six percent believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, saying that Satan is a real being, and Jesus is the only way to salvation.

Sixty percent believe the world will end in Armageddon, and 56% believe that Christians are obligated to try to convert Jews.

Christian Reconstruction ranked fairly high among the respondents. Fifty-two percent agreed with the statement, "Christians should take dominion over all aspects of society." Only 39% agreed that "American law should be based on Old Testament law."

A whopping 99% agreed that "moral decay is the cause of America's problems." Not surprisingly, the respondents scored poorly on the separation of church and state. Ninety-six percent believe that "Christians should be in politics to protect their values," and 91% believe that "God works through politics and election returns." And 89% believe that "the US has prospered when it obeyed God," and that "Clergy and churches should be involved in politics."

The majority (75%) believe that "if enough people were brought to Christ, social ills would take care of themselves." According to John Green, who conducted the survey, this figure has dropped in recent years.

Only 28% said that the US needs a Christian political party. This is not surprising since 90% identified themselves as Republican, or "leaning Republican." In a similar vein, 20% said that the US Constitution should be amended to declare the US a Christia n nation.

Ethnic, racial, and religious diversity scored low, with only 40% supporting such ideas. Again, no surprise, since only 31% said "a person can be both a good Christian and a liberal."

The groups receiving the highest marks in the survey include, in order: Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, Prison Fellowship, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, National Right to Life Committee, American Family Association, and Operation Rescue. A third of the respondents identified themselves as members and/or financial supporters of Focus on the Family, and 40% were Christian Coalition members. Only 6% had favorable views of militias.

The "news media," at 98%, topped the list for groups having too much influence. "Feminists" followed with 93%, and Hollywood movie makers with 92%. Only 20% said that Jews have too much influence. Former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed, and his former boss, Pat Robertson, received a favorable rating from 76% of the respondents. However, William Bennett beat them by a narrow 2% margin. Pat Buchanan was received favorably by 63% of the respondents, beating Jerry Falwell by a 1% margin.

Although Bob Dole received a favorable rating by 58%, 90% voted for him in 1996. Their first choice for the 1996 GOP presidential nomination was Pat Buchanan, by 28%, versus 13% for Dole.

Finally, 95% favored the outlawing of abortion; 93% support school vouchers, and 69% said environment laws have gone too far and should be reversed.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.