Acton Institute Powerblog

Watch Out for that 12%

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In an interview on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer, a Newsweek representative discussed the cover story for this week’s issue, “In Search of the Spiritual.” The feature is based on a Newsweek/Beliefnet poll focusing on spirituality and religious practice in America. The Newsweek guy (sorry, I didn’t catch his name) discussed the results of various questions, making passing reference to the importance for most spiritual people of viewing the “central myth” as real.

Since 85% of those polled self-identified as “Christian,” I think it’s fair to guess that the question results overall should reflect a measure of the broadly American “Christian” landscape. Among the promising results, the vast majority of those polled believe God created the universe and in an “afterlife.”

But the inane banter ensued in full force when Lauer and Newsweek guy discussed the results of a question about whether a “good person” of another faith could be saved. Nearly 80% responded affirmatively. Lauer asks if this means that “intolerance” is on a downward trend. While Newsweek guy doesn’t want to go that far, he does say that this is the “good news” of the poll, that “tolerance” is being affirmed. This is essentially the “I’m ok, you’re ok, whatever’s good for you,” po-mo (post-modern) worldview. In the word’s of the Newsweek subhead, “they don’t much care what the neighbors are doing.”

What about those who didn’t answer in the affirmative? “You might want to watch out for that 12%,” says Newsweek guy. After all, I guess they might try to [gasp!] “evangelize” you.

This Newsweek article strikes me as a particularly clear example that the “press…just doesn’t get religion.” Answer the questions here to see the results of the poll.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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