When 16,000 college students gathered at Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship’s latest Urbana conference to talk about missions, one of the main debates became how evangelicals should engage with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Evangelicals are among the least likely of religious groups to support BLM, and the most likely to hold conservative positions on race, according to new research from Barna Group.
There are exceptions: One of the latest additions to the BLM camp is pastor and author John Piper.
This past December, many were surprised when worship director and BLM activist Michelle Higgins took the stage at Urbana. It is not a mission to bring about incredible anti-Christian values and reforms to the world,” said Higgins, who directs worship and outreach at South City Church, a Presbyterian Church in America congregation in St. “[BLM] is a movement on mission in the truth of God.” Higgins’s speech sparked pushback from some evangelicals.
About 13 percent of evangelicals say they support BLM, less than half the share of practicing Christians (28%) or those who attended church in the past week (30%) who also do so.
(Barna defines means respondents who self-identify as Christian, say their faith is important to them, and attend worship services at least once a month.) The only religious group less supportive of BLM is practicing mainline Protestants, according to Barna numbers broken out for CT. Almost 1 in 4 evangelicals (23%) say they do not support the BLM movement, more than practicing Christians (13%) or those who attended church in the past week (14%). No evangelicals said they supported the movement on social media in the past week, and none reported attending a march, protest, or meeting related to the cause.
Just four percent of practicing Christians and five percent of those who attended church in the past week supported the BLM movement on social media, while only three percent of those who attended church in the past week said they had attended a march, protest, or a meeting related to the cause.
On the other hand, more than three out of four evangelicals (76%) say they “believe all lives matter,” a reaction to BLM which has been used by some, including President Obama, to voice support for law enforcement.
About half of practicing Christians (52%) and those who attended church in the past week (51%) agreed.
Few Christians saw the church as the source of those divisions.About one quarter of evangelicals (24%), practicing Christians (26%), and those who attended church in the past week (30%) said that churches are part of the problem when it comes to racism.Few strongly agreed: only five percent of evangelicals, eight percent of practicing Christians, and nine percent of those who attended church in the past week.Those who don’t attend regularly are more skeptical.Overall, about 4 out of 10 Americans (38%), including 43 percent of black respondents and 40 percent of all non-white respondents, strongly or somewhat agreed that churches are part of the problem.The overwhelmingly majority, however, saw churches as having a critical role to play in healing relationships between races.