The culture war may be lost and religious liberty might not be that far behind, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research.
Seventy percent of senior pastors at Protestant churches say religious liberty is on the decline in the United States and 59 percent of Christians believe they are losing the culture war. Eleven percent considers that war already lost.
The survey results are staggering– indicating grave concerns about the moral direction of the nation from both the pulpit and the pew.
“Ten years ago we were talking about who would win the culture war and now we’re talking about how will Christian rights be protected after the culture war,” Ed Stetzer, the president of LifeWay Research told me. “We’ve lost our home field advantage. There are going to be some things that are different.”
Stetzer said it’s a big shift.
“And it’s a shift I would not have guessed,” he told me.
Over the past few years, I’ve documented hundreds of instances of religious persecution in the United States. And the targets have been exclusively Christians.
The military labeled evangelical Christians and Catholics as religious extremists. Christian organizations like Family Research Council and American Family Association were labeled by the military as domestic hate groups. Bibles were briefly banned from Walter Reed Medical Center.
The Internal Revenue Service targeted Christian ministries engaged in pro-life activities. The government demanded to know the content of one group’s prayers. A Wyoming church was ordered by government officials to turn over their membership roles. A Baptist newspaper in North Carolina was audited – as was America’s evangelist – Billy Graham.
The list of attacks on Christians goes on and on – from students ordered to stop praying in front of the Supreme Court to chaplains being told the could no longer pray in the name of Jesus.
In recent days, the battleground has pitted gay rights groups against Christian-owned businesses who cater to the wedding industry. Christian bakers, florists and photographers have been hauled into court and brought up on state discrimination charges for declining to participate in same-sex weddings.
And in every single instance – lower courts have ruled that gay rights trump religious rights.
So perhaps it should not be a surprise that 70 percent of pastors and 54 percent of Americans believe religious liberty is on the decline.
Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, said the concern is widespread.
“Half of Americans say that religious liberty is on the decline,” he said. “That’s a lot of people.”