Are pastors are worried about religious liberty in America? Many of them are.
A new survey from LifeWay Research has found that seven out of 10 senior pastors at Protestant churches say religious liberty declining in America.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, says some of the unease about religious liberty is due to shifts in American culture and church practice.
In the 1960s, nearly two-thirds of Americans were Protestants. Today, they make up less than half of the population.
Stetzer says in the past, he says, Christians – particularly Protestants--took it for granted that Americans would look to the church for guidance on moral issues.
Churches were seen as being good for society, so they were given special privileges – like tax exempt status. Even if people didn’t go to church, they looked to the church.
Stetzer points out that is no longer the case, as the government and culture no longer defer to Christians. That makes pastors and their congregations nervous.
He says “they feel like in some ways there was a pact made at the founding of the country — between God and America. That pact has been broken.”
Stetzer believes that Christians have to think through a new strategy that defends their religious liberty but also acknowledges how religious beliefs stand in opposition to many cultural trends.
Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, says concerns about religious liberty go beyond pastors to the American public at large.
McConnell says “Half of Americans say that religious liberty is on the decline. That’s a lot of people.”
To read more about the new research, go to lifewayresearch.com. I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.