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By Steve Jordahl, OneNewsNow, December 4, 2017
Americans’ political outlook and their theological beliefs track very closely together. The pollster who has confirmed that link suggests it’s both a blessing and a curse.
Have you ever wondered why so many evangelical churches seem to be full of Republicans? Or why so many Republican leaders are also born-again Christians? Pollster George Barna says the data from a recent poll confirm the link.
“There’s a pretty strong correlation between a person’s political ideology and their theology,” he offers. “Among people who are politically conservative, four out of five of them are also theologically conservative – [and] at the other end of the continuum it was exactly the same.” That is, four of every five political liberals are also liberal theologically.
Barna, founder of the American Culture & Faith Institute, sees two big upsides to the link between theology and political leanings. First, he says, one’s faith is likely to influence their politics. Pro-life Christians, for example, will vote for or become pro-life politicians.
“[In addition] the fact that only 45 percent of Republicans or 51 percent of political conservatives are born-again … tells us that with that particular group it’s a very fertile field for us to plow, evangelistically speaking,” he tells OneNewsNow.
But there’s a downside here as well, he notes: faith may influence politics, but politics should never influence faith.
For example, supporting the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not a Christian issue; rather, it’s more of a patriotic or constitutional duty. Barna says there’s a difference.
“There’s always that danger where you’ve got to know what your priorities are,” he explains. “You’ve got to understand what truth is – and that it’s God’s truth that we work with, not man’s truth.”
As for the often-heard accusation that evangelicals gave up on their theological principles if they voted for Donald Trump, Barna says that’s also a political and not a spiritual decision.
“I don’t think we can go all the way that some analysts have [gone] to say that Christians lost their mind in the election because they voted for an immoral man,” he suggests. “The truth is that in God’s eyes we’re all immoral.”
In an earlier interview, Barna explained that the Trump victory in November 2016 had a lot to do with spiritually and politically engaged conservatives voting overwhelmingly for him. He details that effect in his book The Day Christians Changed America.