Believers And Non-Believers' Perception Of Christians Very Different, Survey Finds

Believers And Non-Believers' Perception Of Christians Very Different, Survey Finds

A new survey reveals a disconnect between Christian believers and non-believers on how they view the religion and those who follow it.

A national study commissioned by The Episcopal Church and conducted by polling firm Ipsos reveals that there is a divide between believers and non-believers when it comes to viewing Christianity. The poll also found that most Americans view Jesus as an important spiritual figure, but about a third of Americans have lessened their participation in religious activities during the COVID pandemic.

According to Premier Christian News, the survey asked Christians to describe other Christians and the response was that they viewed their peers as "compassionate," "loving," and "respectful." Conversely, non-Christians who were asked their opinion on Christians said that the religiously affiliated were "hypocritical," "judgemental," and "self-righteous."

Non-believers were also more likely to say that Christians did not represent the teachings of Jesus. The Episcopal Church's presiding bishop remarked, "There is a disconnect between the reality of Jesus and the perceived reality of Christians. This was an attempt on our church's part to actually listen to what others were saying about Jesus, about us. We dared to ask, 'How are we perceived?'"

The Episcopal Church also wanted to start a conversation and dialogue because Bishop Curry believed that Christians needed to learn how to listen. The church leader added that most people do not know the differences between evangelical and mainline Protestant Christians.

The survey furthermore found that many non-Christians were unaware of the things Christians were doing, such as volunteering in soup kitchens and offering their services in other ways. Bishop Curry said that closing the gap between the perception of people about Jesus and his followers will take a "new reformation" and a "re-presenting" of Christianity that should look more like Jesus to the rest of the world.

Diving into more detail, Ipsos reported that based on the poll, 57% of Christians described themselves as being giving, while 56% said they were compassionate and 55% said they were loving. 50% said they were respectful, while 49% said they were friendly. Among non-Christians, 50% said Christians could be described with hypocrisy, while 49% said they were judgemental. Another 46% said Christians were self-righteous, while 32% said they were arrogant, the Episcopal News Service reported.

Meanwhile, half of evangelicals who were surveyed said that the Christians they know represent the values and teachings of Jesus. The survey also found that the COVID pandemic limited participation in organized religion or religious activities for 31% of Americans, 39% of Christians, and 45% of Evangelicals. 

When it comes to Jesus, however, a rather large majority of Americans or up to 84% still believe Jesus is an important spiritual figure, as even 50% of those who identify as not religious or do have no religion said the same. ABout 88% of Christians said that Jesus is an important figure in their life. Lastly, Most or 64% of Americans believe Jesus teaches them to love their neighbor, while 58% believe that Jesus teaches them to love God. Some 54% said they believe Jesus teaches them not to judge others without first judging one's self.