D.C. — In a new survey
by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, most evangelical
Protestant leaders who live in the Global South (58%) say that evangelical
Christians are gaining influence on life in their countries. By contrast, most leaders who live in the Global North (66%)
say that, in the societies in which they live, evangelicals are losing
influence. U.S. evangelical leaders are especially downbeat about the prospects
for evangelical Christianity in their society; 82% say evangelicals are losing
influence in the United States today, while only 17% think evangelicals are
general, evangelical leaders who live in the Global South (sub-Saharan Africa,
the Middle East/North Africa, Latin America and most of Asia) are optimistic
about the prospects for evangelicalism in their countries, while those who live
in the Global North (Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) tend
to be more pessimistic. Seven-in-ten evangelical leaders who live in the Global
South (71%) expect that five years from now the state of evangelicalism in
their countries will be better than it is today. But a majority of evangelical
leaders in the Global North expect that the state of evangelicalism in their
countries will either stay about the same (21%) or worsen (33%) over the next
These are among the
key findings of the Global
Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders, which offers a detailed portrait
of 2,196 evangelical leaders from 166 countries and territories who were
invited to attend the Third Lausanne Congress on World
known as “Cape Town 2010”) held in October 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. The
Pew Forum conducted the survey with the assistance of the Lausanne
Movement as part of Cape Town 2010. It is the latest report of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious
an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts
and the John Templeton Foundation to analyze religious change and
its impact on societies around the world.
major findings include:
Beliefs and Practices
than nine-in-ten (96%) of the evangelical leaders surveyed say that
Christianity is the one, true faith leading to eternal life, and 95% say that
believing otherwise — taking the position that “Jesus Christ is NOT the only
path to salvation” — is incompatible with being a good evangelical.
all the leaders (98%) agree that the Bible is the word of God. But they are
almost evenly divided between those who say the Bible should be read literally,
word for word (50%), and those who do not think that everything in the Bible
should be taken literally (48%). They are similarly split on whether it is
necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person (49% yes, 49% no).
four-in-ten (42%) of the evangelical leaders say the consumption of alcohol is
compatible with being a good evangelical, while 52% say it is incompatible.
a number of ways, leaders in the Global South are more conservative than those
in the Global North. For instance, leaders in the Global South are more likely
than those in the Global North to read the Bible literally (58% vs. 40%) and to
favor making the Bible the official law of the land in their countries (58% vs.
28%). Leaders in the Global South are also much more inclined than those in the
Global North to say that consuming alcohol is incompatible with being a good
evangelical (75% vs. 23%).
Secularism and Modernity
evangelical leaders around the world view secularism, consumerism and popular
culture as the greatest threats they face today. More of the leaders express
concern about these aspects of modern life than express concern about other
religions, internal disagreements among evangelicals or government restrictions
seven-in-ten (71%) see the influence of secularism as a major threat to evangelical
Christianity in the countries where they live. Two-thirds (67%) also cite “too
much emphasis on consumerism and material goods” as a major threat, while
nearly six-in-ten (59%) put “sex and violence in popular culture” into the same
category. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say there is a “natural conflict” between
being an evangelical and living in a modern society.
Other Religious Traditions
between religious groups, by contrast, does not loom as a particularly large
concern for most of the evangelical leaders surveyed. A majority says that
conflict between religious groups is either a small problem (41%) or not a
problem at all (14%) in their countries — though a sizable minority considers
it either a moderately big problem (27%) or a very big problem (17%).
who live in the Middle East and North Africa are especially inclined to see
inter-religious conflict as a moderately big (37%) or very big problem (35%). Nine-in-ten
of the evangelical leaders (90%) who live in Muslim-majority countries say the
influence of Islam is a major threat, compared with 41% of leaders who live
the whole, the evangelical Protestant leaders express favorable opinions of
adherents of other faiths in the Judeo-Christian tradition, including Judaism,
Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. But solid majorities express
unfavorable views of Buddhists (65%), Hindus (65%), Muslims (67%) and atheists
(70%). Interestingly, the leaders who live in Muslim-majority countries generally
are more positive in their assessments of Muslims than are the evangelical
the global evangelical leaders hold conservative opinions on social issues. For
example, more than nine-in-ten say abortion is usually wrong (45%) or always
wrong (51%). More than eight-in-ten say that society should discourage
from the Global South tend to be more conservative than their counterparts from
the Global North on some issues relating to family, marriage and gender. For
example, two-thirds (67%) of those from the Global South say a wife must always
obey her husband, while 39% of the leaders from the Global North take that
position. Leaders from the Global South are nearly twice as likely as those
from the Global North to say that all adults have a responsibility to marry and
have children (60% vs. 33%).
global evangelical leaders support political activism. More than eight-in-ten
(84%) think that religious leaders should express their views on political
matters, while just 13% say religious leaders should not express their views.
Pew Forum conducted the survey in nine languages, including English, from
August to December 2010. A total of approximately 4,500 people participated in
the Third Lausanne Congress, and nearly half of them completed the survey.
additional findings, read the full report on the Pew Forum’s website.
The Pew Research
Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducts surveys, demographic
analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and
public life in the U.S. and around the world. As part of the Washington-based
Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy organization, the Pew Forum
does not take positions on any of the issues it covers or on policy debates.