Nearly three-quarters of pastors concerned presidential election will impact churches: Barna

People arrive to cast their ballot for 2016 elections at a polling station as early voting begins in North Carolina, in Carrboro, North Carolina, U.S., October 20, 2016.
People arrive to cast their ballot for 2016 elections at a polling station as early voting begins in North Carolina, in Carrboro, North Carolina, U.S., October 20, 2016. | Reuters/Jonathan Drake

Nearly three of four pastors are concerned that the presidential election and its fallout will negatively impact their congregations, according to a newly reported study by the Barna Group.

Barna recently released the findings of week 18 of their Church Pulse leader survey, which drew from a poll of 475 Protestant pastors taken Sept. 24-28.

Since each week has a different total of respondents, the margin of error varies week to week, being between 4.77% to 7.65% depending on the sample taken.

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When asked by Barna about how concerned they were that the election will impact their church, 33% of respondents said they were “very concerned,” while 41% said “somewhat concerned.”

While 74% of respondents expressed a level of concern that the election will impact their congregation, 26% responded that they were “not concerned.”

Despite the concern about an impact, the surveyed pastors indicated confidence on handling the divisiveness of the political campaign season at their respective churches.

When asked if the election will divide their congregation, 65% disagreed with the idea; 25% said they “somewhat agree” that it will and 10% said they “strongly agree” that it will.

Furthermore, when asked if they are prepared to lead their churches through the election season, 87% said they either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that they were prepared.

The weekly Church Pulse survey began back in March, centered on tracking trends among Protestant churches in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Week 18 marked the first time that the weekly survey asked questions about the presidential election and how the church is responding to the subsequent upheavals.

In November of last year, the Revive Civility project of the University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse launched a prayer campaign titled “Golden Rule 2020.”

Theo Brown, director of NICD’s Faith Based Programs, told The Christian Post in an interview last year that he believed “faith communities have a huge role to play in reviving civility.”

“All Christian denominations teach that each individual person — regardless of their political views — is someone created in the image of God. Therefore, each person is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect,” said Brown at the time.

“The goal of Golden Rule 2020 is to remind Christians that our faith has something to say about how we talk to each other and that these insights are relevant to our political discussions — particularly in difficult times like these.”

In August, Doug Clay, the leader of the Assemblies of God, sent out a pastoral letter to the approximately 13,000 congregations to combat political divisiveness.

“Polarization in 2020 has risen to a higher level and has trickled down to even mundane decisions,” wrote Clay. “It’s the Spirit who brings unity.”

“We should be extremely cautious that we do not allow division to seep into Christ’s Church that will inevitably lead to self-destruction.”  

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