Are christians more likely to be socially and politically conservative or liberal/progressive?
If you asked most people’s opinion, I reckon they would think christians are generally conservative. But some new surveys suggest this isn’t the full story.
Conservative about ….
The surveys, conducted in the US, found that regular private Bible reading is associated with opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and the belief that science helps reveal God’s glory but cannot solve humanity’s problems. This much we might have predicted.
But liberal about ….
Perhaps less expected were the findings that regular private Bible reading is also correlated with:
- reduced support for strong anti-terrorism legislation (the Patriot Act);
- support for a more humane criminal justice system;
- increased belief that science and faith are compatible;
- increased support for social and economic justice;
- increased concerns about over-consumption.
This would be a surprise to many. So the stereotype of the redneck, socially conservative christian is not always accurate. We can assume that Bible reading christians are more serious about their faith, yet they are also more open-minded and humane than non-reading believers. Perhaps this is simply because they may be more literate, but it seems likely that the Bible has influenced them to be more compassionate and thoughtful.
Perhaps the non-readers are only nominal or cultural believers in a country where religion is still very pervasive.
It is extremely interesting that regular Bible reading correlates with the belief that science and faith are compatible. Sceptics might think that increased science reading would have this effect while increased Bible reading would have the opposite effect.
These findings should lead some of us to re-evaluate a few things.