Throughout the election season, research among Christian conservatives by the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) consistently reported an underlying anger about the state of America. A new survey by ACFI reveals some of the foundations of that anger.
Based on a national survey that examined the levels of satisfaction of SAGE Cons – the spiritually active, governance engaged Christian conservatives – related to 15 aspects of American society, a majority of the group had a positive opinion of only one of the 15 cultural aspects while at least four out of five of them held negative views of 10 of the 15 elements.
The Bright Light
The only societal condition tested that a majority of SAGE Cons are satisfied with is “accessibility of financial opportunities to all people.” A bare majority (51%) said they are either very or somewhat satisfied with peoples’ access to such opportunities. Men were more likely than women to express satisfaction with those opportunities (56% versus 44%, respectively). There was also a regional distinction in this regard: most of the SAGE Cons in the South (53%) and West (56%) approved of access to financial opportunities, while considerably fewer felt the same way in the Northeast (42%) and Midwest (44%).
The survey also discovered that the financial condition of the respondent was related to their perception about existing opportunities: the more affluent the respondent, the more likely they were to be satisfied with peoples’ access to financial opportunities.
Four Aspects Fared on the Low Side
Four of the 15 aspects studied generated satisfaction among one-quarter to two-fifths of the Christian conservatives.
The state of religious freedom in the US elicited positive ratings from 44% of the SAGE Cons interviewed. Those positive reviews were more likely to come from men (50%) than women (37%), and from young adults (50% of those under age 50) than from those 50 or older (39%).
One-third of SAGE Cons (34%) were satisfied with the fairness of the nation’s court system. Residents in the Northeast and West were more likely to be satisfied that were those living in the “fly over” states.
Slightly more than one out of four SAGE Cons said they were either very or somewhat satisfied with the Christian commitment of Americans (28%) and with the current state of race relations in the nation (26%). Perhaps surprisingly, young Christian conservatives were more likely than their seniors to express satisfaction with America’s prevailing race relations.
The Ten Biggest Losers
At least four out of five SAGE Cons did not register positive opinions about the other ten social conditions monitored. Those include the following:
Interestingly, the data indicate that Christian conservatives are more likely to be satisfied with peoples’ degree of Christian commitment (28%) than their level of overall spiritual commitment (17%).
The survey confirmed how little respect or support Christian conservatives have for the mainstream news media. ACFI’s surveys throughout 2016 reported that 98% or more of SAGE Cons believed the mainstream news media were “unfair and subjective” in their reporting about the election, and that those media were not “trustworthy.” The current survey showed that only 1% of SAGE Cons were satisfied with the honesty and integrity of the mainstream news media and only 1% was satisfied with how objective those media outlets were in their reporting.
Time for Action
As the official transition from the Obama to the Trump Administration nears, the research suggests that there is a danger of Christian conservatives being so overcome with their dissatisfaction that they miss an important window for cultural change. “When people are beset by very low levels of trust in institutions and key social conditions, there is often a tendency toward self-protection,” explained researcher George Barna. “It would be a huge loss if Christian conservatives were to isolate themselves due to their sense of cultural despair and therefore refuse to engage in potential opportunities to move American society in a more positive direction.”
“One of the great benefits of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it gives us a reason to have hope,” Barna continued. “If Christians can place their trust in Christ, and allow Him to guide their choices and actions, the social elements that have been so discouraging to the Church can be turned around. More than any other people group, biblical Christians have a reason to have hope and to never give up.
“2017 promises to be a year in which the very foundations and boundaries of America will be uppermost in people’s minds and in cultural conversation. Now, more than any time in more than a decade,” Barna noted, “Bible-driven followers of Christ must be present in that conversation, and active in the cultural struggle that will take place. It is a great time for Christians to be alive in America, and the nation desperately needs what they have to offer, even that is not readily apparent to many or accepted by the mainstream media.”
About the Research
The research described in this report is part of the RightView™ longitudinal survey, a national study undertaken among spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives who are registered voters – a segment known as SAGE Cons. The new national survey conducted for this report had a sample size of 600 qualified adults and was conducted online by the American Culture & Faith Institute from December 5 through 19, 2016.
In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 12% of the national adult population, which constitutes a segment of approximately 30 million individuals.
The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians related to the political process, in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual candidates or political parties.
Additional information about this study and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com. To receive a free copy of these weekly research reports, visit the website and register for the American Culture Review newsletter.