PBS/U.S. News & World Report survey of evangelicals has some surprises
Evangelicals have been surveyed many times over, so it seems unlikely that another survey will turn up anything new about who evangelicals are and what they believe.
Even surveys that repeat the basics can be helpful to non-evangelicals who have mistaken views about such believers. But a new survey commissioned by PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report magazine has some results that many evangelicals will find surprising.
Many of the results really are predictable—in fact, some go to the heart of what it means to be evangelical. "White evangelicals hold a conservative set of religious beliefs about the interpretation of the Bible and salvation from personal faith alone," the survey says (it breaks out white evangelicals from African-American and Hispanic evangelicals, though the survey shows the same can be said for evangelicals as a whole). "They are also deeply committed to their religious imperative to spread their faith."
Evangelicals incorporate their faith into daily life; they volunteer, give to charity, are concerned with moral values, oppose gay marriage, and tend to be politically conservative. They don't really attend megachurches (only 14 percent go to churches with more than 1,000 members) and aren't enthusiastic about a federal marriage amendment (a majority say the issue is best left to the states). For the most part, we've heard that before, but much of it bears repeating.
Here's some numbers you haven't seen:
The media often look to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to speak on behalf of all evangelicals, yet less than half of all evangelicals themselves (44%) have a favorable view of Falwell, and only a slight majority ...1