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Report Exposes British Evangelicals’ Differences

Evangelicals are fragmented in their beliefs, with little unanimity on moral and social questions, according to new research from the Evangelical Alliance.

The research, “21st Century Evangelicals: A Snapshot of the Beliefs and Habits of Evangelical Christians in the UK,” is based on a survey of 17,000 people conducted by the alliance and Christian Research at Christian festivals in 2010. The questionnaire was also completed at 35 Evangelical Alliance member churches.

Respondents were asked questions on topics including belief in miracles, abortion and the Bible.

Only 62 percent strongly agreed that sexual intercourse outside marriage was wrong while only 42 percent “strongly agreed” that assisted suicide was always wrong.

On abortion, only 20 percent of festival-goers agreed that “abortion can never be justified,” as opposed to 30 percent of the church sample. On the Bible, 54 percent of festival-goers strongly agreed with the statement, “The Bible, in its original manuscript, is without error” as opposed to 69 percent of the church sample.

Just over half of respondents strongly agree that women should be eligible to serve in any roles within the church.

More than half of evangelicals believe that “hell is a place where the condemned will suffer eternal conscious pain.” Most evangelical festival-goers – 59 percent – agree that belief in evolution is compatible with Christianity. Following a noticeable pattern, the church sample is more conservative, with only 43 percent agreeing that it is possible to accept both.

Opinion is clearly against same-sex relationships, but by less than might have been expected. Fifty-nine percent of festival-goers agreed that “homosexual actions are always wrong” (68 percent of the church sample); more than 80 percent of both samples did not believe civil partnerships should be blessed in church.

The survey also highlighted considerable areas of agreement. More than 90 percent attend church at least once a week, agree that Jesus is the only way to God, pray at least a few times a week, and believe in the “miraculous gifts of the Spirit.”

“This research helps us speak with greater confidence about our evangelical community, the things that are important to us and the significant contribution that we are making to the community around us,” according to the alliance’s general director, Steve Clifford.

This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.