Monday, February 19, 2007

Guess What: Heathens Don't Like Paris and Britney Either

The Barna Group are always good for some insights into American culture, and their latest report is no exception. In a recent study, American adults were asked to rate a variety of religious and secular figures with regard to favorable and unfavorable impressions. Unsurprisingly, "born agains" rated evangelical figures more favorably than their secular counterparts (most of whom had never heard of people like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and James Dobson).

But what was most interesting about this report--to me anyway--is that Christians and secular adults had virtually identical favorable/unfavorable ratings for Britney Spears and Paris Hilton:

My take from that is that maybe America's values aren't in the cesspool the way that evangelicals so often say. If believers' attitudes about two symbols of the wanton culture of celebrity excess are indistinguishable from the rest of America--both distinctly to the negative--then that provides support neither to evangelicals claims about how depraved American culture is nor to their own claims of cultural distinctiveness.


At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Chemical Erik said...

It seems to me that the greatest rates of "depravity" are amongst those with the most power (Power corrupts ...). Those that pass laws, choose what airs on TV and radio, and those who choose what goes to print have a much lower ethical standard on average.

On another point, I believe ethics should be secondary to Jesus. Jesus didn't tell the Pharases that the greatest commandment was to "be good people", but "Love the LORD your GOD". This is not to say we shouldn't be ethical; Jesus also said "If you love me you will obey my commdandments".

I'll quit now, before this becomes an essay.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

That's a great point about power, Erik. Would you say that Christian power structures are just as vulnerable to corruption?

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Chemical Erik said...

I would say that vulnerability to corruption in the Christian power structures depends on if you mean in the Church or in our churches.

In the Church (body of all believers), the Holy Spirit is active, reducing the corruption and increasing love. This is not to say the Church is currently without corruption; it is made up of humans. I am saying that since saving faith leads to good works, the corrption level in the Church will be to some extent less than in the general population.

Of course if we are talking about churches (the buildings/local congregations), the answer is much different. Satan, and often our human hearts, love to create corruption in churches. While a few churches do a good job resisting this (with a strong presence of the Church), most of the churches I've seen fail. Many are significantly worse than the general population.

The real question to me is what can we do about it?
Can we do anything about it?

At 5:16 PM, Blogger mark said...

I just read the article - fascinating stuff. If I read the data correctly, Bill Clinton has a higher "favorable" rating w/ Christians than GW does. Who would have ever thought that day would come?

I wish Hillary & Obama had been included, although this survey was taken late last November, before the Presidential race heated up. I'd love to see how the Christian community is reacting to the most visible candidates.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger shelly said...

Yep, Bill Clinton ranked higher than GWB (who was only 47% favourable). Maybe it's because--unlike GWB--Bill Clinton actually owned up to his crap, and said crap didn't send a bunch of soldiers and innocent civilians to their deaths.

At 6:45 AM, Blogger mark said...

"Maybe it's because--unlike GWB--Bill Clinton actually owned up to his crap, and said crap didn't send a bunch of soldiers and innocent civilians to their deaths."

Ahh, Shelly. There was a time in my life when thems' would have been fightin' words. 8 Years ago I went round and round with people, talking about the moral responsibility of those in leadership...Jeesh, I just now have realized how much my perspective has changed. I guess you could say that I have changed my point of view on the situation based on new facts that have come to light. One might say that it is a sign of good leadership to alter one's course or change a decision based on the advent of new facts and information. Of course the opposite's true, too.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Wasp Jerky said...

maybe America's values aren't in the cesspool the way that evangelicals so often say

Well, if you look at the behavior of people who call themselves Christians and that of those who don't call themselves Christians, their behavior is pretty much identical. In some cases, Christians have worse behavior (Christians have higher divorce rates, for instance). And if you look at Europe, which most American Christians consider to be a land of rampant sinfulness, you see that Western Europeans behave better than Americans in pretty much every category (lower murder rates, lower abortion rates, yadda yadda yadda).

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. This is late. And I wasn't a part of that survey, but I think Britney Spears looks cool with her shaved head.

I think all women should shave their heads at least once. It's kinda funky...


At 10:29 PM, Blogger RF2R2 said...

I think that:

[The # of people that would say they are christians in a survey] > [The actual number of born again respondents]


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