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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Scott Slayton


Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”

A new poll shows that more than three in four Americans believe religious freedom is important to a “healthy American society.” The numbers come from a survey by Rasmussen and Summit Institute.

According to The Christian Post, in a survey of one thousand likely voters, 67 percent said that religious freedom was “very important” to a healthy American society, while 15 percent said it was “somewhat important.” Only 9 percent said it was “not very important” or “not important at all.” Nine percent of respondents also said they were not sure.

Religious freedom still enjoys bipartisan support. Eighty-six percent of Republicans said religious freedom was important, and 79 percent of Democrats said it was as well. Only 5 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats said religious freedom was not an essential part of a healthy American society.

“The American people overwhelmingly support the continued protection of the Constitutional right of freedom of religion and oppose policies requiring churches and faith-based charities and organizations to compromise their deeply-held religious beliefs,” said Jeff Myers, President of Summit Ministries. “Yet, leaders in Washington, D.C. are aggressively pushing forward on legislative measures such as the mislabeled Equality Act, which specifically strips away religious freedom protections.”

Support decreased but remained strong when the survey asked respondents about a particular religious freedom issue. Twenty percent of those questioned said “churches and faith-based charities” should “be required by law to fire people who oppose their religious beliefs.” Half of the respondents believe churches and faith-based charities should not have to fire people who do not share their religious beliefs. Almost one-third said they were not sure.

The partisan divide widened on the question of hiring. Sixty percent of Republicans said churches should not have to hire people opposing their beliefs, while only 37 percent of Democrats agreed. Fourteen percent of Republicans believed churches and faith-based nonprofits should be forced to make the hire, and 28 percent of Democrats agreed.

Rasmussen and Summit Ministries conducted the poll of 1,000 voters on June 16-17, 2021.

Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash/Wang Xi


Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”

According to a new Lifeway Research survey, most Protestant pastors believe that any pastor who sexually abuses or assaults another person, be it a child or an adult, should permanently withdraw from public ministry.

When asked how long a pastor should withdraw from public ministry if they are found to have sexually abused a child, 83 percent of Protestant pastors said the pastor should withdraw permanently. 

Lifeway Research Executive Director Scott McConnell notes, however, that this does not mean that pastors do not believe the actions of abusers are beyond God's forgiveness. According to Lifeway Research, McConnell said, “Most current pastors believe the office of pastor is incompatible with having sexually abused or assaulted another. This does not convey that they believe these behaviors are beyond God’s forgiveness, but a large majority believe sexual abuse is a permanent disqualification from ministry leadership.”

Others noted that the pastor should withdraw at least 10 years (2 percent), at least five years (3 percent), at least two years (3 percent) and at least one year (1 percent). In the categories of at least six and at least three months, less than one percent said the abusive pastor should withdraw for either of these time frames. Seven percent of pastors also responded that they were unsure of how long the pastor should withdraw from ministry.

“The five years or less time frame, that 7 percent of pastors suggest is appropriate, does not even cover the length of the typical prison sentence for offenders convicted of sexual abuse,” McConnell said of the survey results. “In contrast, more than 10 times that number of pastors do not hesitate to say the disqualification from ministry should be permanent for a pastor who commits child sexual abuse,” he added.

When asked how long a pastor should withdraw from public ministry if they are found to have sexually abused or assaulted an adult, the number of pastors believing the abusive pastor should permanently withdraw dipped to 74 percent. The numbers were, however, slightly higher among those who believed that the pastor should withdraw for 10 (5 percent), five (5 percent) or two years (5 percent). Two percent of respondents also said the pastor should withdraw for at least a year and one percent said they should withdraw for at least 6 months. Less than 1 percent of pastors said the abusive pastor should withdraw for at least 3 months or does not need to withdraw at all. Nine percent of pastors answered that they were unsure of how long a pastor should withdraw.

“When someone sexually assaults an adult, it is both a violent sin and a crime. It is the opposite of the love, care and respect toward another the Bible teaches,” McConnell asserted. “The role of pastor has incredibly high standards in the Bible, including that the overseer of those in the church be above reproach or beyond criticism. Seventeen percent of pastors think someone could move beyond reproach in this matter given enough time.”

In recent years, the topic of pastoral or clergy sexual abuse has dominated the church. In the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting last week, following numerous accusations of sexual abuse allegations being mishandled, the denomination decided to launch several major investigations into the allegations of sexual abuse and possible coverups.

The survey of 1,007 Protestant pastors was conducted between September 2, 2020, and October 1, 2020, using phone and online interviews.

Related:

Southern Baptists Agree to Launch Major Investigation into Abuse Response

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Javier Art Photography


Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.

A New Jersey board of education will not remove holiday names from the school calendar after a vote this week.

According to the Washington Examiner, the Randolph Board of Education initially voted to remove the holiday names from the calendar, but outcry from the public forced another vote on the issue. The school calendar would have stopped using holiday names, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, and instead called the holidays a "day off."

The backlash also came from the initial plan to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

"It's not only insulting, but it sends the wrong message to our students ... We should be teaching our children the importance of these dates," one resident said during the public comment section of the meeting.

Said Andre Dimino, the Executive Board Member of the Italian American One Voice Coalition: "Because what that tells the students is that it's just a day off. It doesn't tell them what the background is."

This week, the board voted 8-1 to restore the holiday names to the school calendar. The meeting lasted nearly four hours, with some 50 local residents speaking to the board on the issue.

"The Randolph Board of Education is grateful to the community for its feedback regarding designating school holidays and days off," the board told PEOPLE in a statement. "After a reconsideration, the school calendar returns to its prior form, adding ALL state and federal holidays.

"The very essence of education is to learn, to grow and to apply lessons learned. The last few weeks have showcased a concerned community, an interested public and a responsive Board of Education that acknowledged a decision made without proper consideration," they continued. "In the future, a review committee will seek community input on any proposed calendar changes."

The second meeting also came after an online petition began calling for Superintendent Jennifer Fano and members of the board to resign. The petition had gathered thousands of signatures.

Related:

2 Parents Arrested after Virginia School Board Stops Public Comments on Controversial Transgender Policy

Photo courtesy: Eliza Diamond/Unsplash


Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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