Young people are not abandoning church. Evangelical beliefs and practices get stronger with more education. Prayer, Bible reading, and evangelism are up. Perceptions about evangelicals have improved dramatically. The data are clear on these matters, says University of Connecticut sociologist Bradley Wright, but evangelicals still want to believe the worst statistics about themselves. Christianity Today's Ted Olsen (who, among other things, compiles the Go Figure statistics in our Briefing section) talked to Wright about Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You've Been Told (Bethany House), which aims to change conventional wisdom.

There's a lot of good news in your book. What's the best news?

Not to be glib, but the good news is that most of the bad news is wrong. It isn't that there's one specific zinger that changes everything. But there's a large body of work that is mostly factually inaccurate.

Why? Are the survey questions bad? Is the math wrong? Is it how the survey subjects are chosen? Is it the analysis? Or is it the way the numbers get used post-publication?

All of the above, but especially the last two. Take the divorce rate. For years, studies have shown that Christians have lower divorce rates than others. But people aren't interested. If you want to motivate people to take their marriages seriously, you look for a negative, scary statistic. Meanwhile, there's so much good news in journals and academic books that isn't getting through to the public.

But are academic sources really better? I see plenty of weird conclusions in the journals.

Academics are under the same pressure as anyone else: You get brownie points for coming up with ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Passages Subscriber Access Only
Recent deaths, appointments, and other transitions in the Christian world.
RecommendedThe Seven Levels of Lying
The Seven Levels of LyingSubscriber Access Only
We lie more than we think. And that's part of the problem.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes.
Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites...and Other Lies You've Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media
Christianity Today
Stop Browbeating
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.