March 28, 2019
Most Christians worry about the pushback of sharing their values at work or in school, but at church? Well, according to a new survey from the Barna Group, some pastors feel the same pressure. It's not an easy job navigating today's culture -- even in the place it should be safest.
Nearly three in 10 pastors (27 percent) think it's gotten harder to speak from the pulpit about moral and social issues. And when they're asked which topic gives them the most trouble, the answer is almost always sexuality and same-sex marriage. That's not to say that church leaders don't want to talk about the moral struggles of the day, but they certainly agree the stakes are high.
That's just one of the findings in the new "Faith Leadership in a Divided Culture" report, a 101-page analysis of what U.S. pastors and clergy think about the state of religion in an increasingly political world. Church leaders, who watched Barack Obama's eight-year siege on the First Amendment, seem more acutely aware of the threat than anyone. Three-quarters of them say religious freedom is "becoming less valued," while 43 percent of everyday adults say it's worse off now than 10 years ago. Not surprisingly, these beliefs are "especially intense" among Catholics, who had a front-row seat for the destruction under the last administration's health care mandates and social service crackdowns.
In the three years since Obergefell redefined marriage, the clash with special LGBT rights is most church leaders' primary concern when it comes to religious freedom. "Though most clergy feel as though legal same-sex marriage was inevitable, they are committed to actively resisting and reversing it while defending their right to refuse performing same-sex weddings. Overall, they feel somewhat prepared to address a number of LGBT-related issues, but are skeptical of the possibility of advancing LGBT rights while protecting religious freedom, viewing them as mostly incompatible objectives."
But as much as they're keeping a watchful eye on the First Amendment debate, it ranks third on their list of worries. Keeping young people from dropping out of church (72 percent) is first, followed by the decline of the natural family (65 percent).
The bottom line? Leading a church is hard work in these turbulent times. Here at FRC, we want to make pastors' jobs a little easier, at least when it comes to engaging the culture. If you're a church leader, we encourage you to get involved with our Watchmen on the Wall ministry and link arms with other spiritual warriors across the country who are committed to speaking into the debate in such a time as this. Our national conference is coming up next month here in Washington, D.C. To find out more information about that or how you can get connected with our Watchmen network, check out the website.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.