Mainline clergy surveyed

Public Religion Research has issued what it calls "is the largest survey of mainline clergy in seven years, and the broadest ever in scope." The mainline denominations included were: "United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, American Baptist Churches USA, Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)."

Some of the findings with particular reference to Episcopalians:

  • Federal role in social problems: A majority of clergy in every denomination agreed the federal government should do more to solve social problems. Episcopalian clergy agreed 87% of time, second only to UCC clergy.
  • Abortion: 73% of Episcopalian clergy agreed abortion should be legal in most or all cases, second to UCC clergy.
  • Same-sex marriage: Among Episcopalian clergy 49% believe marriage should be legal, 38% civil union should be legal but not marriage, and 13% would give no legal recognition (this latest being the second smallest; only 9% of UCC would give no legal recognition).
  • Political orientation: Among Episcopalians 66% identified as liberals, 13% as moderates, 21% as conservatives.
  • Biblical inerrancy: Episcopalian clergy were most likely to disagree (36%) or strongly disagree (53%) that the Bible was the inerrant word of God.
  • Religious orientation: Those surveyed could choose more than one category. See the figure below for the results.

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The full 35 page study is available here (PDF).

Public Religion Research President Dr. Robert P. Jones participated in the January national press conference with leading Evangelical and progressive leaders to announce the Come Let us Reason Together Governing Agenda.

More: About Public Religion Research | ENS analysis of the report

Comments (2)

About the Bible:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/48931_4412_ENG_HTM.htm

Anglicans have a high regard for the Holy Scriptures, but we do not describe them as having ultimate authority in all matters, nor do we assert that everything found within them is binding on us. We are a biblical tradition, but we have no doctrine of biblical supremacy, literal inspiration, or verbal inerrancy. While not accepting the Scriptures as our sole authority or guide, we do believe they provide the Church with the primary criteria for its teaching and the chief source of guidance, in terms of principles and norms, for its life.

We believe the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God. That is, they contain the revelation of God. God inspired their human authors and God still speaks to us through them. We understand their meaning through the aid of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church in their true interpretation. (BCP, 1979, The Catechism, pp.853-854).

These Scriptures, while not a text providing final judgments on every ethical or theological question or issue, contain all that is needed to be known or believed for our salvation.

"When asked if the political views of mainline Protestant laity and clergy may be more similar now because conservatives have left those denominations, [Robert] Jones said "there's still an incredible amount of diversity among this group" in terms of political and theological opinion."

This is an interesting note. Really, it seems to me that we haven't had so many conservative clergy leave as to significantly sway a survey of this type.

Marshall Scott

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