Pushy Religion

In the [Barna] study of 1,067 US adults, a quarter of respondents said their view of evangelicals was “somewhat negative” or “very negative”, compared to just under a third (30%) who said their perception was “somewhat positive” or “very positive”. 

Of the 268 respondents with a negative perception of evangelicals, two thirds (67%) said this attitude was because they felt evangelicals were “too pushy with their beliefs“.  Sixty-one per cent said that evangelicals were “hypocritical”, while half said they were “homophobic” and a similar proportion (51%) said “their beliefs are outdated”.  …One result that surprised Barna was the large proportion of Millennial Americans (52%) who have a neutral attitude towards evangelicals. 

It occurred to me that I have been told that I was “pushy” by a couple of my Ratburgher pals.

Well, that is only because I care about the fate of your everlasting soul. I am pushy about my religion because I want to push you into eternity with Jesus.

Here is a comment about the Barna study by blogger Gene Veith:

What most bothers the public about evangelicals is that they are “too pushy with their beliefs.”  That is, people don’t like being witnessed to.  That evangelicals care about non-Christians’ temporal problems, for which Jesus can help them,  and their eternal destiny, for which Jesus offers free salvation, does not matter.  To the 67% of the 25% of Americans who do not like evangelicals (which comes to 16.75%…), this is offensive, due, no doubt, to the postmodern dogma that truth is a personal construction, so that persuasion is construed as a personal attack, an act of power that imposes your will over someone else’s.

Are there some lessons that can be drawn from this study?  Might evangelicals do a better job at public relations?  What are the dangers in trying to be too well liked?

Evangelicals should also take the occasion of this study to rejoice in their blessings: 

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” 

(Matthew 15:11-12).

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25 thoughts on “Pushy Religion”

  1. I am not entirely on board with Gene Veith when he attributes most hostility to Evangelicals to postmodernism. That is an inadequate explanation; it is only part of the picture.

    Here are the links. Most of Barna’s explanation is behind their paywall; some of that info is relayed in the article from Christianity Today. You could save time by going straight to the Christianity Today article:

     

    https://www.barna.com/research/evangelicals-political-lens/

    https://www.christiantoday.com/article/research-sheds-light-on-why-some-people-dont-like-evangelicals/133680.htm

     

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2019/12/why-some-people-dont-like-evangelicals/

     

    More from Gene Veith:

    Though “culture war” issues, such as evangelicals disapproving of homosexuality, are factors, …such unpopular views do grow out of their Biblical beliefs.  Those objective beliefs are interpreted as psychological problems (“homophobia”) or as subjective emotions (“misogynistic,” probably in reference to opposition to abortion and to feminist ideology; never mind that  most evangelicals are women.) 

    The complaint that evangelicals are “too racist” –as opposed to the right amount of racism? –is ironic, given that, in the words of a Pew study,  “African-Americans stand out as the most religiously committed racial or ethnic group in the nation” and hold to evangelical religious beliefs at a much higher rate than white people.

    My own observation regarding race is that Evangelical churches are not very racially integrated, but they are much more racially integrated than those Leftist “mainline” churches that have crusaded for “Inclusion and Diversity.”

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  2. I think talking about religion in your daily life as if it were, you know, important, is a virtue.  Some people consider bringing up religion pushy because they are busy avoiding thinking about it. If evangelicals sometimes err on the side of being a tad pushy, it only provides a small counterbalance to our irreligious culture.

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  3. Jojo:
    I think talking about religion in your daily life as if it were, you know, important, is a virtue.  Some people consider bringing up religion pushy because they are busy avoiding thinking about it. If evangelicals sometimes err on the side of being a tad pushy, it only provides a small counterbalance to our irreligious culture.

    It depends how it is done. Everyone likes enthusiasm but not many people like to be looked down upon or forced to listen.

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  4. Secularism actively pushes against religiosity, why can’t religiosity push back?

    Probably because secularism is in the air we breather nowadays and most people are oblivious to it. But it’s hard for me not to see how so many of today’s troubling ‘suggestive emotions’ – despair, misandry, self-centeredness – stem from not believing in a loving God and His House with many rooms that awaits us.

    My son was talking to me about a girl he went out with a few times – he said by the third date or so they wandered into some political talk and when she found out he was on the conservative side (and he’s not extremely so, I can attest) she became stridently preachy and lecturing about how wrong his beliefs were. How’s that for pushy?

    He tells me he will not be seeing her anymore, he could not take how close-minded she was.

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  5. Pencilvania:
    Secularism actively pushes against religiosity, why can’t religiosity push back?

    Probably because secularism is in the air we breather nowadays and most people are oblivious to it. But it’s hard for me not to see how so many of today’s troubling ‘suggestive emotions’ – despair, misandry, self-centeredness – stem from not believing in a loving God and His House with many rooms that awaits us.

    My son was talking to me about a girl he went out with a few times – he said by the third date or so they wandered into some political talk and when she found out he was on the conservative side (and he’s not extremely so, I can attest) she became stridently preachy and lecturing about how wrong his beliefs were. How’s that for pushy?

    He tells me he will not be seeing her anymore, he could not take how close-minded she was.

    The non-religious are some of the most closed minded. They see angels under every bed that needs to be cast out. 😉

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  6. 10 Cents:

    Jojo:
    I think talking about religion in your daily life as if it were, you know, important, is a virtue.  Some people consider bringing up religion pushy because they are busy avoiding thinking about it. If evangelicals sometimes err on the side of being a tad pushy, it only provides a small counterbalance to our irreligious culture.

    It depends how it is done. Everyone likes enthusiasm but not many people like to be looked down upon or forced to listen.

    If I am going to express confidence that orthodox Christianity provides the correct explanation of how things came to be as they are and correctly describes how God relates to mankind, then I must necessarily express confidence that all other views are in error.

    That does not mean that I am looking down on anyone; rather, it means that I have enough respect for them to believe that they may be persuadable through explanation and appeal.

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  7. 10 Cents:
    Do you think being pushy is a virtue?

    Maybe that depends on what you are pushing.

    I am deliberately pushy because so many of my fellow Christians have become intimidated to the point of silence.

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  8. The “Good News” is good news.

    God loves you and wants you to spend eternity with Him.

    Trust Jesus.

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  9. MJBubba:

    10 Cents:
    Do you think being pushy is a virtue?

    Maybe that depends on what you are pushing.

    I am deliberately pushy because so many of my fellow Christians have become intimidated to the point of silence.

    Is light or salt pushy? (It’s a trick question.)

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  10. 10 Cents:

    MJBubba:

    10 Cents:
    Do you think being pushy is a virtue?

    Maybe that depends on what you are pushing.

    I am deliberately pushy because so many of my fellow Christians have become intimidated to the point of silence.

    Is light or salt pushy? (It’s a trick question.)

    Light goes everywhere until it is blocked out by something.

    Salt affects everything, unless it is confined.

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  11. One of the interesting findings from Barna is that Boomers have a slightly larger fraction of their cohort who view Evangelicals negatively, when compared with younger cohorts, and the Boomers with negative attitudes towards Evangelicals had more strongly negative views.

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  12. Antipathy toward authority is big in boomerism.

    God is our Author, and has authority over us. A lot of boomers think they are their own author.

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  13. People don’t seem to get that, for those who believe that  ETERNITY  is at stake, nothing else matters as much, not even a fraction as much!  And those who believe that, like MJB, oughta  be “pushy”.  They’re yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater because they see, or believe they are about to see the flames.
    And if you believe getting a blood transfusion will send the soul to Hell, then it’s better, literally infinitely better!  for your kid to die at seven, than live to seventy-seven and be damned. We’re talkin’  EeeeeeeTerrrr….Nity!  Don’t you get it? Huis clos!  No Exit!
    I am not mocking, believe me. I really think people’s hostility to and /or disdain of “Evangelicals” (if that means people who take every opportunity to talk about their faith) is due to the fact that they do not understand the sincere and supremely terrifying belief in eternal torment. 

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  14. 10 Cents:

    MJBubba:

    10 Cents:
    Do you think being pushy is a virtue?

    Maybe that depends on what you are pushing.

    I am deliberately pushy because so many of my fellow Christians have become intimidated to the point of silence.

    Is light or salt pushy? (It’s a trick question.)

    Y’mean like: light of the world?  Salt of the earth?

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  15. Personally, I was encouraged by this survey. The numbers weren’t as high as I thought they would be and the hatred seemed concentrated among older people.

    I wasn’t expecting the amount of openness these numbers seem to express. But then, the unchurched are usually more open to the faith than those who rejected it. The boomers largely rejected what they grew up with. They didn’t raise their kids in it, so their children are largely unchurched.

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  16. Hypatia:

    10 Cents:

    MJBubba:

    10 Cents:
    Do you think being pushy is a virtue?

    Maybe that depends on what you are pushing.

    I am deliberately pushy because so many of my fellow Christians have become intimidated to the point of silence.

    Is light or salt pushy? (It’s a trick question.)

    Y’mean like: light of the world?  Salt of the earth?

    Yes. One notices that too much light or salt is not a good thing. A little goes a long way.

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  17. MJBubba:
    I am pushy about my religion because I want to push you into eternity with Jesus.

    I am surprised none of our Christian Ratburghers pushed back at me for this.   It is bad theology.

    Nobody is pushed into heaven.   We are all pulled.

    I am mostly pushy to dispel Satan’s lies about the Bible.   I am hoping to clear away some thorns so other Christians can till the ground.   From 1 Corinthians:

    I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

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  18. MJBubba:
    MJBubba: I am pushy about my religion because I want to push you into eternity with Jesus. I am surprised none of our Christian Ratburghers pushed back at me for this.   It is bad theology.

    I missed it because conscientious evangelism has been categorized as “pushy”, so I thought you were just adopting their language.

    I’ve never seen you witness, so I wouldn’t know if you are pushy. I have seen others witness gently and be called pushy.

    It has had me be timid in sharing my faith, and I have been reticent to share the gospel with people who have likely heard it before but are hostile to it. I’ve lately been drawn to the realization that there’s a lot in this country who haven’t heard it at all.

    So now I’m trying to find my voice.

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  19. MJBubba:

    MJBubba:
    I am pushy about my religion because I want to push you into eternity with Jesus.

    I am surprised none of our Christian Ratburghers pushed back at me for this.   It is bad theology.

    Nobody is pushed into heaven.   We are all pulled.

    I am mostly pushy to dispel Satan’s lies about the Bible.   I am hoping to clear away some thorns so other Christians can till the ground.   From 1 Corinthians:

    I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

    I am surprised that you didn’t catch on that is what I was getting at in the second comment.

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  20. Stina:

    MJBubba:
    MJBubba: I am pushy about my religion because I want to push you into eternity with Jesus. I am surprised none of our Christian Ratburghers pushed back at me for this.   It is bad theology.

    I missed it because conscientious evangelism has been categorized as “pushy”, so I thought you were just adopting their language.

    I’ve never seen you witness, so I wouldn’t know if you are pushy. I have seen others witness gently and be called pushy.

    It has had me be timid in sharing my faith, and I have been reticent to share the gospel with people who have likely heard it before but are hostile to it. I’ve lately been drawn to the realization that there’s a lot in this country who haven’t heard it at all.

    So now I’m trying to find my voice.

    Yes.   A lot of what appears to Christians as hostility to the Gospel is simply ignorance about the Jesus story.

    This is especially true when ignorant misstatements about Christianity come from media.

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  21. MJB, I’m trying to understand why others think you’re pushy. You and I share similar worldviews, and you don’t try to evangelize me, so that must mitigate my experience. I do see you as honest and forthright. Nobody who has interacted with you for any length of time is unclear about where you stand. There have been times when you’ve tried to meet people where they are, such as the simulation post which well done and thoughtful.

    If people don’t believe in hell, then when they encounter the idea that they might go there after they die, its probably offensive. Just thinking out loud here, but maybe the initial reaction is based on a theological misunderstanding, like, “He think’s I’m a bad person, that’s why he thinks I’m going to hell,” or, “He’s saying that God thinks I’m a bad person.” Or something like that. If that is the case, (a big if, I realize) that’s not what you’re saying as we both know. And just to be super clear, I am NOT thinking of anybody here or any specific example of an interaction here Elsewhere. I’m just wondering out loud, based on how  non-Christians in general tend to misunderstand the theology of all that.

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