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December 14, 2009Culture, Research

Protestant Pastors and Islam

LifeWay Research just released some new data from a survey of Protestant pastors concerning their views of Islam. You can find the story at the Christian Post, where we will be releasing research of interest to the broader Christian community.

Here are some excerpts:

Two-thirds of Protestant pastors believe Islam is a dangerous religion, according to survey results just released by LifeWay Research.

While opinions vary widely based on factors such as denominational affiliation and political ideology, the survey of more than 1,000 Protestant pastors found 45 percent strongly agree with the statement "I believe Islam is a dangerous religion," and 21 percent agree somewhat.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said American Protestant pastors' agreement that Islam is dangerous could speak to various issues, however, "in one sense, Protestant pastors are a competing religion, so we should not be completely surprised by their concerns about Islam."

Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research, said LifeWay Research decided to ask this question after European headlines used the phrase "dangerous religion" to describe results drawn from a 2008 study across 21 European countries that found an "overwhelming majority" of people believe immigration from predominantly Muslim countries poses a threat to Europeans' traditional way of life.

"It appears that Protestant pastors in America are overwhelmingly willing to use that phrase and cite Islam as a 'dangerous religion,'" McConnell said.

Additionally, a study by the Pew Research Center found that 38 percent of all Americans say Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions. However, studies also indicate a need for interaction. For example, data from the Gallup Muslim-West Dialogue Index shows that when given the option of labeling greater interaction between Muslim and Western worlds a threat or a benefit, 70 percent of Americans call it a benefit.

"It's important to note," Stetzer pointed out, "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."

You can read the whole story here at the Christian Post.

Many of you who read this blog are pastors and church leaders. How would you have answered the survey question... and why?

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