Evangelicals Not Much Better Than Prostitutes

Jim Henderson in the latest “Off the Map” newsletter noted that only prostitutes rank lower than evangelicals in terms of respect in the mind of the public.

He quotes the following:

“The primary reason outsiders feel hostile toward Christians, and especially conservative Christians, is not because of any specific theological perspective. What they react negatively to is our ‘swagger,’ how we go about things and the sense of self-importance we project.” —UnChristian, David Kinnaman

“Most people I meet assume that Christian means very conservative, entrenched in their thinking, anti-gay, anti-choice, angry, violent, illogical, empire builders; they want to convert everyone, and they generally cannot live peacefully with anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.” —UnChristian, David Kinnaman

Christianity will never be cool and the cross is a stumbling block, but how we live out our walk is important. It should be marked by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. As Paul wrote, we should be “ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all people.”

How do we do this and not compromise what Jesus taught in the hard areas?

14 Responses to “Evangelicals Not Much Better Than Prostitutes”

  1. Joe Miller says:

    Based on this 12 part summary of the statistics you are citing, I would take issue with the entire premise of the question.

    Here is a link to part 12 in the series from Bradley Wright’s blog. It is really worth a read.

  2. Rick Meigs says:

    Thanks for your comment Joe. Glad to see you stopping in.

    I’m not sure how you can take exception to the question, which was, to paraphrase, “How do we do whatever is good, slander no one, be peaceable and considerate, and show true humility toward all people which standing for truth with no compromise what Jesus taught in the hard areas?”

    Obviously it can be done. I’m just looking for good input and examples of how one can walk in the way of Jesus.

  3. Peggy says:


    I find that the problem really gets down to people not knowing how to speak the truth in love. Speaking the truth in anger or judgment doesn’t do it. Speaking the truth in pride or arrogance doesn’t do it. Speaking the truth in disgust doesn’t do it either.

    So, if you can’t say whatever you have to say in love — read: with true affection, grace and mercy for the other — then you can’t say it with the power of Jesus, who is The Truth.

    Until we can learn to speak the truth IN love, we will not be communicating the Gospel effectively nor will we be accurate ambassadors for a God who IS Love.

  4. Sam Shultz says:

    I think this is a good topic. I think though it’s a much broader discussion than we may think. I’ve touched on this at my church several times and have had to reflect on how it’s coming across. For some of the people in my church, they are truly NOT judgmental or slanderous, don’t point fingers, and generally love everybody they come in contact with. I’ve had to ask myself “are these accusations I’m making toward them truthful, or am I just missing it completely?” What I’ve found is that sometimes we’re guilty by association. Because we’re “Christians,” because we attend “church”, we automatically represent these stereotypes to our communities–whether we live up to them or not.

    So the problem isn’t just for those who do these things (and to quit it right away). The problem is everyone’s. How can we change our culture? How can we speak louder with truth and love through our actions (being missional comes to mind)? How can our light shine brighter than the darkness that gives the unchurched no reason to validate their resistance toward Christ?

    If we can figure out how to do these things in our own social contexts, I think we’ve come a long way toward answering Rick’s difficult question.

  5. Jerry says:

    I agree with Peggy completely, only I can’t articulate it as well as she did, Our goal, I believe as followers of Christ is to be like Jesus, even though no one can come within light years of doin that, it boggles my mind trying to comprehend it. Reading the New Testament I find that Jesus displayed anger only once, and that was toward the religious leaders using the temple as a market place. Jesus showed us and told how we should live, and even told us that he came into the world to judge it, but that the world through him might be saved. He was not angry nor did he condemn those who rejected him. He did not judge the thief on the cross that ridiculed him or the rich young ruler who wanted to know how he could go to heaven. I guess the long and short of it is, We should spend our energy in telling people of Jesus, and what he did for us, and not what we perceive as sin, I don’t remember where I heard it but, God wants us to be fishers of men, we catch em, He’ll clean em.

  6. Joe Miller says:

    With respect brother, does it not bother you at all that you have changed the statistic and used it out of context to make your point and in so doing you distort the perception people have about Christians?

    I am not suggesting your final question does not have validity, but my question is why must you use errant statistics as the basis for asking it? What is the purpose?

    Love the site, love what you are doing and writing about as a whole, so I hope no one will read into my question and take it as an indictment of all the good stuff happening here :-)

  7. Rick Meigs says:

    Joe: To be bothered I would have to make the same leap you did and assume that I changed the statistic and used it out of context to make my point. Neither of which I did. I double checked Jim Henderson’s remarks in the “Off the Map” newsletter and everything is spot on.

    Knowing Jim, I doubt that he changed the statistic or used it out of context either.

    Keep challenging Joe. Iron sharpens iron. Hope all is going well at Reunion Church.

  8. Jim Henderson says:

    So you dont have to take heat for me – Joe is technically correct. Barnas uses two terms for Christians- Born Agains and Evangelicals. I went with Evangelicals becuase I dont (not do I think outsiders do) make teh disticntion between the two.

    If you are looking for an easier review then I suggest going with the Born Agains (who knew they would EVER rank higher) if you want to absorb the full impact of Kinnamans Research (which I would argue would be a wise decision for heartflet followers of Jesus to do) then go with Evangelicals.

    I think we have so much ground to make up in terms of reconnecting with our culture and the true message of the gospel that even at the risk of taking more blame than may technically be sue us- we go the extra mile and say – yes – we have failed to follow in the footsteps of the founder of our movement and we humbly accept your critique.

    It is the only way to dialog. Most of us have become convinced that our primary task is to Debate but we need to dialog.

  9. Rick Meigs says:

    Thanks Jim for jumping in. I’ve been told I have ice water for blood, so heat doesn’t bother me :-).

  10. Joe Miller says:

    Hey Rick and Jim, thanks for giving some further context. Like I said Rick, I respect all you are doing and think the question overall is an important one you are asking.

    If you are not sure about the statistic, please check out the link I posted in my first comment and in my second comment. These are links to two articles by Dr. Bradly Writght who analyzes this statistic and makes specific mention of Jim’s website in the second link.

    He gives the explanation as to why the statistic is problematic. It is worth checking out and Jim since he mentions your site in the second link you may want to ask Brad about his critical analysis.

    Blessings to both of you brothers!

  11. Helen says:

    Joe, I’ve read Brad’s posts about this. I respect Brad but where Jim is coming from makes a lot more sense to me for the following two reasons:

    First, Christians defending themselves is going to do the opposite of building bridges that help them connect with Outsiders. It’s anti-evangelism. Is that really what Christians are called to engage in?

    Jim’s approach is the one that will build bridges – Christians assuming the worst and apologizing instead of defending

    Why do Christians need to defend themselves anyway? I thought Christianity wasn’t an “it’s all about me and me ego” belief system.

    Second, it doesn’t seem like Brad has done first hand research i.e. talked to Outsiders himself. What value is it having lots of books telling you how great people think Christians are, if 5 minutes among a group of Outsiders who feel free to be honest will reveal otherwise?

    Also, a lot of Brad’s statistics seem to be taken from surveys which don’t exclude Christians. I don’t see how we can learn anything useful about Outsider opinions from those. It’s not a big surprise that Christians don’t rank themselves lower than Prostitutes.

    Maybe Brad already knows about this conversation but I’m going to invite him over here just in case he doesn’t.

  12. Helen says:

    p.s. I meant it’s not a big surprise Christians don’t rank themselves second only to prostitutes.

  13. Rich says:

    “First, Christians defending themselves is going to do the opposite of building bridges that help them connect with Outsiders. It’s anti-evangelism. Is that really what Christians are called to engage in? Jim’s approach is the one that will build bridges – Christians assuming the worst and apologizing instead of defending
    themselves. ”

    –I don’t know…I (and, I think, others) generally respect someone less who is “always assuming the worst and apologizing.” Someone like this tends to get walked on and taken advantage of more, but not necessarily respected more.

    I admit I don’t have data to back this up…just a hunch I take from experience. I actually used to be that guy that always assumed the worst about myself. I was in a relationship at the time, and my girlfriend got tired of it….finally told me to just shut up. The relationship didn’t work out–she could not respect me. Looking back on it, I think she had a point there.

  14. […] have a really low opinion of Christians. we’re second only to prostitutes at the bottom of one list! how many hurting, marginalized, voiceless persons have we chased away from Christ’s love […]