More than half (57%) of Protestant churchgoers under 50 say they prefer to go to church with people who share their political views. And few adult Protestant churchgoers say they attend services with people of a different political persuasion.Bob Smietana for Christianity Today
Those are among the findings in a new report on churchgoing and politics from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
“Like many places in America, churches are divided by politics,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “And churchgoers under 50 seem to want it that way.”
While the findings are less dire than the headline leads you to believe, I can personally attest to feeling unwelcome in a congregation because of politics. The ironic part is that my main efforts concentrate on removing politics from influencing our Christian walks, but to those heavily invested in worldly politics, their removal feels like a political agenda in and of itself.
I can’t help but think of the challenges faced in the church in Corinth as outlined in 1 Corinthians 1:11–13:
For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe’s household, that there is rivalry among you. What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?
Paul says the only name that matters is Christ’s. We should not align ourselves with other factions or individuals that threaten to overtake our hearts. If we create divisions among ourselves over politics, then we’re not better than the church in Corinth. (Granted, we should be honest about when political voices draw us away from Christ in action or in attitude.)
Fortunately, we have the same remedy today: love. Our Christian love should overcome all secular differences. It should erase divisions, but this requires self-sacrifice. I need to be willing to sacrifice voicing my opinion on secular topics. I need to be willing to accept that someone can feel differently than me without vilifying them. I need to focus on our common faith above all so that no worldly matters may divide us.