Morality, Society and Politics
Navigate this page:
A. Belief in God and Morality
B. Abortion and Homosexuality
C. Family, Marriage and Gender Issues
D. Religion and Politics
E. Government Treatment of Evangelicals and Experiences with
Lausanne leaders generally hold conservative opinions on social issues. For
example, nearly all (96%) say that abortion is either always or usually wrong.
The leaders also tend to hold conservative views on issues related to family,
marriage and gender, although a solid majority (63%) disagree that women should
stay at home and raise children. When it comes to matters outside the home, a majority considers it essential to take a stand
on political issues that conflict with moral and biblical principles. More than
eight-in-ten of the evangelical leaders surveyed (84%) also believe that
religious leaders should express their views on political questions.A. Belief in God and Morality
leaders are split on the relationship between belief in God and morality. About
half of the leaders (49%) say it is necessary to believe in God “in order to be
moral and have good values.” An equal portion (49%) says it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and
have good values.
are strong regional differences in opinions on this issue. Nearly two-thirds of
the leaders from the Global South (63%) say that belief in God is necessary to
be moral, while less than a third of the Global North leaders (29%) agree. In
fact, majorities from Europe (71%) and North America (67%) say that belief in
God is not necessary to be moral. The balance
of opinion among leaders from Central and South America is similar to those in
Europe and North America; 38% say belief in God is necessary to be moral, while
six-in-ten (60%) say belief in God is not necessary to be moral. B. Abortion and Homosexuality
abortion and homosexuality, large majorities of leaders endorse socially
all (96%) say that abortion is always or usually morally wrong, with a slim majority of those polled (51%) saying it
is always wrong. Leaders under age 50 are more likely than older leaders (57%
vs. 44%) to say that abortion is always wrong. In addition, those from the
Global South are more likely than those from the Global North to say that abortion
is always wrong (59% vs. 41%).
is also strong consensus among evangelical leaders about homosexuality. More
than eight-in-ten leaders surveyed (84%), including 89% of U.S. leaders, say
that homosexuality is a way of life that should be discouraged by society.
There is some regional variation, with support for accepting homosexuality much
higher among leaders from Central and South America. A majority of leaders from
this region (51%) endorse the view that it should be accepted by society.
Better than seven-in-ten from all other regions, by contrast, say that homosexuality
should be discouraged by society.C. Family, Marriage and Gender Issues
global evangelical leaders exhibit a strong consensus of opinion concerning
religious leadership in the family. Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) agree that men
have a duty to serve as the religious leaders in marriage and the family. Men
are particularly likely to endorse this viewpoint, with 51% completely agreeing
and 33% mostly agreeing. But a large majority of women also endorse this view, with 37% completely agreeing and 33% mostly agreeing. There are no
significant differences by age on this issue; about eight-in-ten leaders of all
age groups agree with this statement. And nearly three-quarters or more from all
regions endorse this view.
it comes to gender roles in the church, however, the leaders overwhelmingly
support women in leadership positions. Three-quarters of the leaders surveyed
(75%) say that women should be allowed to serve as pastors. Women leaders are more
inclined than men to feel this way (88% vs. 72%). In most regions, upwards of
seven-in-ten support allowing women to serve as pastors. But leaders from the
Middle East and North Africa are notably less supportive of female pastors; 46%
say women should be allowed to serve as pastors, while 43% say they should not
be allowed to do so.
of the leaders surveyed (33%) say they agree with the statement that “women
should stay at home and raise the children in the family.” But more than six-in-ten
leaders (63%) say they do not agree.
Fully 72% of female leaders and 61% of male leaders disagree that women should
stay at home.
leaders – those age 60 and above – are more inclined than their younger
counterparts to say that women should stay at home. Among this group, 44% agree
that women should stay at home, and 53% disagree.
U.S. leaders, 44% agree women should stay at home, while 53% disagree. Leaders
in Europe, however, reject the idea of women staying at home by a more than
two-to-one margin, 69% to 28%. Those from the Global South disagree with the
idea that women should stay at home by about a two-to-one margin (64% to 31%).
small majority of the leaders surveyed (55%) mostly or completely agree
wife “must always obey her husband,” while 41% mostly or completely
disagree. Two-thirds of the leaders from the Global South (67%)
mostly or completely agree with the statement. Among leaders from the
Global North, a
majority (58%) disagrees. There is some variation in opinion about this
across regions. European leaders (62%) and North American leaders (54%)
are especially likely to reject the idea that a wife must always obey
husband. On the other hand, upwards of six-in-ten leaders from
Africa, the Middle East-North Africa and the Asia-Pacific region agree
wife must always obey her husband. Among leaders from Central and South
53% agree that a wife must always obey her husband and 43% disagree.
than half (53%) of the leaders surveyed say that men should be the main
financial provider for the family, while 43% disagree. Male leaders are more
likely than female leaders to think that men should be the main providers.
Global South leaders are also more likely to hold a traditional view of gender
roles on this question, with 61% saying that men should be the main financial
provider for the family. A majority of Global North leaders surveyed (53%) disagree.
However, North American leaders are sharply divided about this issue, with 49%
agreeing that men should be the main provider and 47% disagreeing (52% of U.S.
leaders agree, 44% disagree). Nearly six-in-ten European leaders (58%) reject
the idea that men should be the main financial provider.
is an almost even split between those who think that all adults have a
responsibility to marry and have children and those who do not think so — 49% and
48%, respectively. Once again, opinion diverges along gender and regional
lines. Women leaders are less inclined than men to say that all adults have a
responsibility to marry and have children; 42% of women agree with this
statement, while 55% disagree. The balance of opinion tilts in the opposite
direction among men (52% agree, 46% disagree). Leaders who themselves have
never married are less likely to see marriage and childbearing as incumbent on
all adults (40% of those who have never married agree with the statement,
compared with 51% among those currently married.) Finally, a solid majority of
leaders from the Global South (60%) agree that all adults have a responsibility
to marry and have families, while just one-in-three leaders from the Global
North (33%) say the same. On this question, however, leaders from Central and
South America stand apart from the rest of the Global South; 54% of Latin
American leaders do not think that
all adults have a responsibility to get married and bear children. D. Religion and Politics
majority of the evangelical leaders think that religious leaders should be
politically engaged and that government should play a role in solving some
social problems. For example, more than eight-in-ten leaders surveyed (84%) say
that religious leaders should express their views on political matters, with
only 13% saying they should keep out of politics.
about political involvement is somewhat greater among leaders from the Middle
East and North Africa than among leaders from most other regions. But even in
this region, roughly twice as many evangelical leaders say that religious
leaders should express their views on political questions (65%) as say that
religious leaders should keep out of political matters (29%).
noted previously, a majority of leaders think that a good evangelical should
take a public stand on social and political issues that conflict with moral and
biblical principles; 56% say taking a stand in these cases is essential, while
37% say it is important but not essential, and 5% say it is either not too or
not at all important for being a good evangelical. In addition, about half of the
leaders surveyed (49%) say it is essential to take a public stand on social and
political issues that could limit the freedom of evangelicals to practice their
faith, while 39% say it is important but not essential, and 9% say it is either
not too or not at all important.
evangelical leaders are almost evenly split over whether the Bible should
become “the official law of the land” in their country. About half (48%) say
they oppose making the Bible the law of the land, while almost as many (45%)
favor the idea.
six-in-ten Global South leaders (58%) favor making the Bible the official law
of the land in their country, compared with 28% of Global North leaders. Among
leaders from the United
States, 21% favor this idea, with a strong majority opposed (73%).
the same time, a large majority of leaders surveyed are tolerant of religious
diversity in their country’s political leadership. Three-quarters of
respondents (74%) say it would be acceptable with them if their political
leaders had a different religion from theirs; 21% say they only want political
leaders who share their religion. A majority of leaders in all regions say it
is acceptable for their political leaders to have a different religion.
leaders surveyed think that it is the responsibility of government to take care
of very poor people who cannot take care of themselves. About one-third (32%)
say they completely agree with this view, and an additional 49% say they mostly
agree. Leaders from the United States stand out for relatively low levels of
agreement with this proposition. A majority (56%) says that government should
be responsible for very poor people who cannot care for themselves, but
four-in-ten say they either mostly disagree (34%) or completely disagree (6%).
In regions of the world outside of North America, by contrast, roughly
eight-in-ten evangelical leaders or more say the government has a
responsibility to care for the very poor.E. Government Treatment of Evangelicals and Experiences with
one-third of the evangelical leaders (34%) say that the government treats
evangelicals unfairly either very often (12%) or somewhat often (22%) in their country. A majority says that unfair treatment occurs either never (15%) or not too
about government treatment vary substantially across countries. Leaders from
Christian-majority countries say such treatment is uncommon; according to these
leaders, unfair treatment by the government never occurs (17%) or does so not
too often (56%). One-in-four leaders from these countries say that unfair
treatment happens somewhat often (19%) or very often (6%).
contrast, sizeable majorities of leaders from certain other countries report
that evangelicals face unfair government treatment either somewhat often or
very often. More than three-quarters (77%) of leaders from Hindu-majority
countries (India and Nepal) say this, with 44% saying it happens very often.
Among leaders from Muslim-majority countries, two-thirds (66%) say unfair
treatment occurs at least somewhat often, including 32% who say it occurs very
from countries in which the government imposes high restrictions on religion were
considerably more likely to say that evangelical Christians are treated unfairly.
Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) say this occurs at least somewhat often, including
40% who say it occurs very often.
more specifically at how evangelicals are treated in society, the survey finds
modest overall levels of reported discrimination.
least three-quarters of leaders surveyed say evangelicals in their
countries either “never” or “not too often” face discrimination when
they try to find housing, advance
their education, apply for government services or apply for a job. About
of the leaders say such discrimination never occurs in housing,
access to government services, and about one-third (32%) say it never
when evangelicals apply for a job.
the other hand, one-fifth of leaders (20%) say that evangelicals in their
country face discrimination on religious grounds either somewhat often or very
often when they apply for a job; 18% report such discrimination when evangelicals seek government benefits,
15% when they seek to advance their education and 13% when they seek housing
of half of leaders from Muslim-majority countries and Hindu-majority countries
report that evangelicals in their countries face discrimination at least
somewhat often when they apply for government services or when they apply for a
job. And about one-in-three leaders from Buddhist-majority countries say the
same. In countries where Christians are a majority, only about one-in-ten say
evangelicals face discrimination in these situations.
of leaders (50%) from Hindu-majority countries and 40% of leaders from
Muslim-majority countries also say that evangelicals in their countries are
discriminated against at least somewhat often when they try to find housing. More
than a quarter of leaders from Buddhist-majority countries (28%) say housing
discrimination occurs at least somewhat often. Only 4% of leaders from
Christian majority countries say this.
four-in-ten leaders (41%) from Muslim-majority countries say evangelicals in
their countries are discriminated against at least somewhat often when they
apply to advance their schooling or education. About one-in-three leaders from
Hindu-majority countries (35%) and Buddhist-majority countries (34%) report
that this kind of discrimination occurs in their countries at least somewhat
often. In Christian-majority countries, 8% say this.
large majority of the leaders surveyed say that they, personally, are
never or not often discriminated against because of their religion.
Fully eight-in-ten leaders say they never personally experience
discrimination because of their religion
(41%) or that such experiences do not occur often (42%). About
say they personally experience religious discrimination either somewhat
than one-in-ten leaders from the Global North (7%) and 22% from the Global
South report that they personally experience discrimination somewhat or very
from Hindu-majority countries are among the most likely to say that they
personally experience discrimination because of their religion. Slightly more
than half (51%) of leaders from Hindu-majority countries say this, with 35%
saying they personally experience discrimination somewhat often and 16% very
often. Almost half of the leaders from Muslim-majority countries also say they
personally experience discrimination at least somewhat often.
than four-in-ten leaders from countries with high levels of government
restrictions on religion (46%) say they personally experience discrimination at
least somewhat often. About one-in-three leaders from countries with high
social hostilities involving religion (34%) say this occurs at least somewhat
Photo credit: ©Ocean/Corbis