Americans have developed better relationships with every major religious group except evangelical Christians. A Pew Research study released today says Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Catholics, Buddhists, and Hindus have all improved their standing with Americans, but relations with Evangelicals haven’t budged since 2014.
Despite their stagnant relationship, 44 percent of Americans say they feel positively about Evangelicals. However, much of that favor comes from Evangelical Americans themselves. The ratings drop to only 32 percent when responses from fellow Evangelicals are removed.
Researchers say one of the main reasons why Americans aren’t warming up to Evangelicals is because not enough Americans actually know evangelicals.
A 2013 study says 1 in 5 Americans do not personally know an Evangelical and the group isn’t very popular among millennials. Americans who do personally know evangelicals rate them higher on Pew’s favorability scale.
Interestingly, many Christians are increasingly reluctant to label themselves Evangelical because of negative stigma surrounding the term. Some Americans directly associate evangelicals with the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
This association is not unfounded. Pew reports that Evangelicals are the highest rated religious group in the Republican Party.
While the report may be concerning to some Evangelicals,sociologists Brad Wright told Christianity Today that evangelicals shouldn’t obsess over public opnion.
“There’s little we can do to change other people’s opinions anyway,” he says. “Telling ourselves over and over that others don’t like us is not only inaccurate, it also potentially hinders the very faith that we seek to advance.”