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April 6, 2011

Majority of Evangelicals Prefer Government Shutdown to Budget Compromise

The federal government is, once again, nearing a government shutdown due to the impasse between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over this year's budget. The key issue is how much to reduce discretionary spending. For evangelical political leaders, the fiscal fight represents a moral battle where there is little room for compromise.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press suggests that a majority of Americans want legislators to compromise, but evangelicals want politicians to stand their ground.

Pew asked the public how they wanted lawmakers who share their views to do. A majority of Americans (55 percent) said that their legislators should “be more willing to compromise even if that means they pass a budget [I] disagree with.” Only 36 percent said lawmakers should “stand by their principles even if that means the government shuts down.”

Evangelicals are more likely to want lawmakers to say, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Among the major religious groups in the U.S., evangelicals are the most likely to agree that their lawmakers should not compromise even if it leads to a shutdown. A majority (51 percent) took this position; 39 percent favored a compromise.


This attitude on the budget is not found among other religious groups. Black Protestants are the most in favor of compromise (72 percent). A majority of other groups including Mainline Protestants (52 percent), Catholics (63 percent), and nonreligious people (55 percent) support compromise even if it means a budget that they disagree with.

Social conservatives want to keep in a complete ban on funding for Planned Parenthood. Advocates for relief organizations are conducting a month-long fast to raise awareness of cuts to aid for the world's poor. Both groups are calling on lawmakers to resist any compromise that violates these issues.

Even though Pew asked people about “lawmakers who share your views,” those who held more conservative political views were more likely to want lawmakers to make a stand. Support for “standing by their principles” was highest among Republicans (50 percent) and conservatives (48 percent) and lowest among Democrats (21 percent), moderates (26 percent) and liberals (31 percent).

If a shutdown occurs, evangelicals would blame President Obama, not Republicans. A majority (55 percent) said Obama would be to blame; only one-fifth said it would be the GOP's fault. Other religious groups tended to blame both sides. Black Protestants were the only religious group to have a majority (72 percent) put the blame on the Republicans.

Republicans in the poll would blame Obama (68 percent). Democrats would blame Republicans (70 percent). Independents were split, with one-third blaming the president, one-third naming Republicans, and one-quarter pointing fingers at both.

The survey, conducted March 30 through April 3, interviewed a random sample of 1,507 adults.

Editor's Note: The Pew Research Center for People and the Press (Pew) provided Christianity Today with a religious breakdown of questions from the poll. However, CT is responsible for all analysis and interpretation of the results. Pew identifies evangelicals as white, non-Hispanic Protestants who described themselves as "born-again or evangelical." Around 18 percent of Americans are evangelicals by this definition. The margin of error for each religious group is larger than for the sample as a whole. The results are descriptive; religious differences could be due to partisanship, ideology, income, or other factors.


I hate it when my prejudices are confirmed by polls. Too many white people who call themselves "evangelicals" (a term that has lost it's Gospel roots and now seems to refer only to the imposition of one's "morality" on others), being hard hearted and hard headed. As a friend once told me, "I'd rather be a soft-headed liberal than a hard-hearted conservative any day."

Why is it that Black respondents are lumped together as "Black Protestant"? Why are "born again or evangelical" people all white? Did anyone doing the poll consider whether or not Black evangelicals might be worth polling separately from "Black Protestants"? If it is significant that there's a difference of opinion among "White Evangelicals" versus "White Mainline"(Protestants), why would it not be significant to poll the same division among Blacks? Is it possible that there was some political agenda at work here--that Black evangelicals CANNOT be seen as politically conservative? Are Black people really that politically monolithic?

I don't understand why any human would not want active duty military women and men who are dodging bullets and dragging their friends off dead to not be paid. And why we want retorted who live on nothing but government funds to not be able to pay their bills. What is wrong with people who profess to believe in JESUS?!?!?

I don't understand why any human would not want active duty military women and men who are dodging bullets and dragging their friends off dead to not be paid. And why we want retorted who live on nothing but government funds to not be able to pay their bills. What is wrong with people who profess to believe in JESUS?!?!?

The lack of compassion in the Republican's budget proposal is astounding as they claim to be the only real Christians. Theirs favors the wealthy over the vulnerable, weak and marginalized particularly poor children. Truth is thay are Pharisees not followers of Jesus.

Both the Repub and the Democ parties are rotten to the core, anti-Christian, Babylonian, beholden to special interests, particularly the violently racist war-making Zionists, which is why Obama is no different to Bush in the areas of foreign policy and Wall street bailouts. Come out of her My People!

Maybe the words of Jesus would be appropriate here: “Unless you righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, you will not …” Matt. 5:20.

I guess this topic hits close to home. If Congress does not approve the budget, my son's company will layoff 1500 people--half of their workforce. And that includes my son. And I'm not sure how it will effect my other son who serves in the military. Why didn't Obama submit a budget that was due LAST YEAR? I'm an independent, but I'm not seeing how Harry Reid Democrats are more willing to compromise. Having been a single mom for years, frankly, I think they need to put single moms in charge of the budget. We know how to survive on next to nothing and cut out luxuries. And to think that Obama may spend a BILLION dollars to get re-elected when so many people struggle just to survive in this down economy. Shameful!

First, some who have commented need to be more aware of what the government "slowdown" actually means. Military personnel and people receiving welfare, social security, etc. WOULD be paid, because these are essential services. Only things deemed "nonessential" - which raises another whold block of questions, like why do they have jobs and/or funding at all if they aren't essential? - will be shut down. So there is no lack of compassion in allowing the shutdown of these serivces at all.

Second, and more significantly, the real questions is not whether there should be compromise or not, but rather what issues are to be included in the compromise. When a large majority of Democrats indicate they want more compromise, do they mean from their own party or from the Republicans? There is a huge difference there that this survey totally ignores. The idealogues on the left side of the aisle are expressing no willingness to compromise on their issues either - primarily abortion and health care issues. The current budget problem was forced upon the American people by a monolithically Democrat administration, who views cuts that amount to less that 2% of discretionary spending ad draconian and extreme. I find no fault in those now in power in the House standing their ground on issues as the Democrats did for the last two years.

As a deeply committed Christian watching from Christchurch NZ,I often cringe with embarassment at the way political ideological pre-commitments of some who would be classified as "Evangelical" in the USA swamp their Christian obligations. It is seen as meritorious to be 'conservative' even when there are policies advocated by some within that camp which contradict primary Gospel mandates expressd by our Lord Himself.There seems to be an astonishing blindness, and even a level of irrationality and harness of heart- even to the point of cruelty and even vindictiveness- that is extremely hard to understand. It does huge disservice to Jesus, and blocks people from wanting to know Him.

This confirms that I should probably quit referring to myself as Evangelical. It no longer describes who I am, a follower of Jesus. As C Thomas says, the term seems unrelated to the Good News any longer

The article portrays a slight majority of Evangelical respondents (51%) as opposing any compromise over the budget, yet 55% would blame the president for any shutdown.

Surely many Americans will wonder why those unwilling to compromise should not bear part of the responsibility for any shutdown. Politics still is the "art of the possible."

I'm amazed that so many who have commented about this article equate Christian compassion and out-of-control government spending that is propelling the U.S. toward bankruptcy. The two are not the same.

These are not "evangelicals" (lovers of the Gospel of Jesue) but social darwinists committed to the survival of the richest. They not only tolerate but encourage the imposition of intolerable burdens on the poor, working poor, the elderly, racial minorities and all those whom they in their self-righteousness hold in deep contempt. They haven't a clue about the Gospel of Jesus Christ - but that's been the story of political evangelicalism since their racist glory days/

All this tells me is that a gov shut down would not impact the lives of many professing evangelicals. If it touched your life or someone you knew, compromise would seem more sensible. This sort of ideological stance is usually only found in those who can afford to.

What strikes me about this survey is that the people who are most in favor of "NO COMPROMISE even if it means a shutdown" are the very same people who are most ready to blame the other guy for the shutdown that they themselves are saying they support.

Talk about being unwilling to take responsibility for your actions!

This is seriously ridiculous and a vast misunderstanding of the political process. The point of having parties is that the nation doesn't end up with a government that is too far to either extreme. The *point* is COMPROMISE.

The Republicans who are saying they won't budge are refusing to participate in the political process. Why on earth did they run? They seriously thought they would just waltz in and completely change everything without any regard for their colleagues? What a selfish attitude. I have zero respect for these people. If a government shutdown occurs, it will be 100% their fault.

Oh, yes, military will NOT be paid. My navy friends have already been told not to expect pay.

Those who equate "compassion" with runaway government spending that is driving our nation into bankrupcty have forgotten that the Bible also commands good stewardship. Just as we would exhort individuals to live within their means, we shouldn't expect any less of those who govern us. And for the record, I am not rich. I have lived in poverty and have even been homeless, yet I don't see any "gospel mandate" in the massive entitlement programs and excessive borrowing that have led to the current mess in Washington.

Yet more evidence that white evangelical is consistently nearly synonomous with conservative republican. Indeed, the two are becoming increasing indistinguishable.

This isn't about faith; it's about political ideology.

Evangelicalism is a powerful political force in America, but in terms of faith, it's out of step in many ways with the church worldwide and outside of its influence in its own country (see the numbers for black protestants!). I pray for the day evangelicalism is defined more by the gospel and less by politics.

R, where were you when the Republicans were literally locked out of the talks about Obama's health care plan? Were you in the US when this happened, were you livid about that then? Did you know that the even locked the doors to the meeting room when the democrats weren't meeting so that the Republicans couldn't meet? Where was the compromise? The Republicans had no idea what was in the health care plan, they kept it a big secret, and then gave them 24 hours to read it. Instead of an open, transparent presidency, this has been the most closed and secretive presidency that we've ever had. Something tells me you weren't upset about that though, when the shoe was on the other foot.

The brethren of The Messiah have taken heed unto The Call to "Come Out of her, MY people" and no longer have their portion with those who follow "the broad way that leads to destruction"!

Thankfully they are but "aliens and pilgrims while on the earth" for their "citizenship is in Heaven"!

They have "Come Out" of this wicked world and it's systems of religion and have taken heed unto the exhortation to:

“Love Not The World”

”For the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one”.......(I John 5:19)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.”(IJohn2:15-17)

“If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John15:19-20)

continued @ asimpleandspirituallife.org

So this many people are ok with active duty military,many deployed to war zones not getting paid. Tea, that is so pro-military....NOT!

Barbara, not only did the Republicans PROPOSE amendments to the health care bill, but some of those amendments were INCLUDED in the health care bill. It was the only way it could have passed the House. COMPROMISE was the only way that bill passed.

BTW, some of what was included in health care reform (particularly the individual mandate) was originally proposed by Republicans in 1993 during that debate over health care overhaul. So to say that Republicans were locked out is sort of ironic when some of the bill was originally their idea.

This whole budget battle is just one mor reason to do what I've been saying all along.Dismantle BOTH the Republican and Demodrat parties!!! Take all theit money and apply it to the national debt. Then make them join on of the many third parties (i.e. Greens, Libertarians etc.) ONLY. Make sure they cannot form another party for at least 5 years

Although this stalemate is outside the pale of Christian evangelicalism, this kind of confrontation what is SO disgusting when the rules of decorum are NOT followed. An appropriation bill is a BUDGET BILL on which negotiations on dollar issues should have taken place, not a forum for a philosophical discussion on abortion rights. They can do that later in a substantive subject oriented discussion! But "new folks" in town don't seem to understand this basic point!

Well since our taxes fund 1/3 of Planned Parenthood's expenses, plus who knows how much worldwide, and the vast majority of Americans do not want to support them, now is the perfect time to discuss this. The vast majority to not want to fund NPR or PBS or the "arts" either. If you support them, please feel free to donate to them. Let's make these cuts now instead of being many more trillions in debt. They can't even account for 4 trillion dollars. You do know how much a trillion dollars is, right? If you spend one dollar every second of the day, it would take you 32,000 years to reach one trillion dollars. We just can't do this, he definitely gives the appearance of trying to destroy our country. Oh yes, another year of no cost of living adjustment for those on social security. THIS is a travesty, and Republicans like Michele Bachmann are donating their salaries as a protest to how unfair this is. This was never done in the past until the Democrats did this in 2010 and 2011. Of course, Congress will receive their COLA. Apparently, the poor don't have to pay for the escalating food and gasoline prices like the rest of us. Gasoline prices have doubled under this president. This so called pacifist now has us involved in Libya too, in addition to Iraq and the Afghanistan war which has turned into a quagmire under his military rules of engagement. No wonder the suicide rate of those in the military have never been so high as they are now.

Barbara, your revisionist history fits in with Bachmann. FYI on Bush, he got us into 2 wars and ran up the deficit. Were we better off in Iraq and Afghanistan when Bush was in office? I have yet to hear someone say, "I miss Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney. They handled the war so well." What is spent on the arts and NPR is a pittance compared to what goes into the military, social security and medicare. We need to deal in reality and address entitlement spending NOT the small stuff. For example, if your house payment ($2000/m) and car payment ($300/m) occupy the bulk of your monthly budget, cutting out the daily paper ($10/m) misses the bigger picture.

Great comment, Sue. We all need to follow your advice. My party has disappointed me and I have realized anew we must strive for the wise and narrow way.

Shameful. With this continuing alliance between ourselves and the Mammon/Power worshipers, I think we crucify Jesus afresh every day. And by "we" I mean my own spiritual family -- Evangelical Christians. We crucify Jesus and replace him with a doppelganger, a missile-headed CEO whose lips drip venom and tongue spreads hate in the name of "faith." Faith in what, I wonder? I will die an Evangelical. And I will also die in a state of faithful despair.