Evangelical vs. Born Again: A Survey of What Americans Say and Believe Beyond Politics

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    Less than half who claim either label have evangelical beliefs. Most likely: African Americans.

    For all the handwringing over what the term evangelical means in the political moment of Donald Trump and Roy Moore, only 1 in 100 Americans would take on the label if it had nothing to do with politics.

    Meanwhile, the label is primarily a political identity for only about 1 in 10 self-identified evangelicals.

    Overall, 1 in 4 Americans today consider themselves to be evangelicals. But only about half actually hold evangelical beliefs.

    And when defined by beliefs and not by identity, evangelicals are less white (58% vs. 70%), more black (23% vs. 14%), and more likely to worship weekly (73% vs. 61%). However, they are not more likely to be Republican or Democrat.

    These are among the findings of a groundbreaking survey of Americans with evangelical beliefs, released today by LifeWay Research.

    Most surveys of religion and politics ask Americans a combined question—“Are you evangelical or born again?”—in order to create their “evangelical” category. LifeWay instead asked about the two self-identities separately, in order to study the differences between the two groups. Then researchers compared their self-identities to their theological beliefs.

    “There’s a gap between who evangelicals say they are and what they believe,” Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, told Facts & Trends.

    Among the survey’s findings:

    1) Evangelicals by Identity

    • 24% of Americans consider themselves to be an evangelical Christian. Another 12% are not sure.
    • 29% of Americans consider themselves to be a born-again Christian. Another 6% are not sure.

    The survey suggests that about 5 percent of Americans accept the born-again label but are uncertain about accepting the evangelical label also. ...

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