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Southern Baptists 'most political' in survey on political involvement


PHOENIX (BP) — Two studies conducted by the Phoenix-based Ellison Research company for Facts & Trends, a bimonthly publication of LifeWay, found that protestant clergy and laity are far from being of one mind about religion and politics, though most clergy and laypeople agree that their church is not heavily involved in politics.

One study is a representative sample of 797 Protestant church ministers nationwide, and the other is a companion survey of 1,184 adults who attend Protestant churches at least once a month.

The studies asked each group about their personal political views, as well as how appropriate it is for churches to be politically involved in a number of ways.

Among ministers, 36 percent say their church is somewhat involved in local political issues, while 46 percent say it’s not very involved and 11 percent actively try to avoid these issues. On national politics or political issues, 7 percent of clergy say their church is very involved, 41 percent somewhat involved and 40 percent not very involved.

The churches most likely to be involved politically are Pentecostal and Southern Baptist congregations, but even in those denominational groups, few churches go beyond being “somewhat involved” in national or local political issues. Lutheran clergy are the denominational group least likely to report significant political involvement by their church.