Social media habits reveal depth and range of Christian activity in the public square
Christians are not only web-savvy but using social media tools to help influence public debate, and to a far greater degree than the average British citizen, new research shows.
The research also finds that their range of concerns goes far beyond the stereotyped moralising viewpoint.
Last year 52 per cent of Christians contacted their local MP or councillor by email (29 per cent spoke personally) compared to only 18 per cent of the general public.
Nineteen per cent of Christians took part in lobbying or a demonstration (four per cent of the general public), 15 per cent have written to their local newspaper (seven per cent), and 81 per cent of Christians had signed an online petition (36 per cent).
These are the findings of the Evangelical Alliance, which produces quarterly reports into the beliefs and habits of evangelical Christians.
The latest report, Are We Communicating? asks how Christians engage with the wider world and within their own Christian communities and what are their concerns. The polling sample was 1,161 people. Comparative samples are from the Audit of Political Engagement, 2011 report (Hansard).
- As well as the traditional evangelical Christian concerns of abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, pornography, religious education, persecution of Christians and alcohol abuse there were also widely held concerns about fair trade, world poverty, human trafficking, debt, poverty in the UK, NHS reform, pensions, homelessness, public sector cuts, Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Sky TV, and many local concerns such as Sunday parking charges and environmental issues.
- The research raised concerns for evangelical Christians: that they are not taking the opportunity that social media offers to engage more widely with non-believers, and that Christians are not as involved as they could be in shaping British culture and society – more than 85 per cent believed the Church had little or no influence on society. A note of encouragement - 76 per cent believed that the internet provides an excellent way for churches to share the gospel with the wider public.
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance says: “Once again our research has produced a fascinating picture of evangelical habits and beliefs. Evangelicals are web-savvy and not slow in communicating our issues to those in power, but there are still concerns about where the internet is taking us - is its volume and intensity preventing us from listening to each other and the voice of God? We now have a wider range of media than ever before so let’s use it to share the most important message of all.”
Are We Communicating? is available for review. Please contact Andrew Green. The report is available to the public online at: http://www.eauk.org/snapshot
The aim of the surveys is to provide churches and Christian organisations with the type of data that will help them better understand and work with the communities they serve.