Barna polls conducted between 2004 and this year, sampling 440 non-Christians (and a similar number of Christians) aged 16 to 29, found that 38% had a "bad impression" of present-day Christianity. "It's not a pretty picture" the authors write. Barna's clientèle is made up primarily of evangelical groups.
Kinnaman says non-Christians' biggest complaints about the faith are not immediately theological: Jesus and the Bible get relatively good marks. Rather, he sees resentment as focused on perceived Christian attitudes. Nine out of ten outsiders found Christians too "anti-homosexual," and nearly as many perceived it as "hypocritical" and "judgmental." Seventy-five percent found it "too involved in politics."
Are these numbers of any concern? Doesn't Jesus say the world will hate us, so these results are to be expected, and Christians should keep doing what we're doing? Perhaps, but it all makes me uneasy.
Jesus says the world will hate us because it hates him. That's not the case here. Non-Christians my age don't have a problem with Jesus, or even the Bible- they have a problem with the only Christians they ever hear from- the prominent public figures in the political sphere or commentators on the news. The ones campaigning with hateful slogans against abortion and homosexuals. The one who one minute preaches "compassionate conservatism" and the next vetoes a children's health care bill. The prominent leaders that claim the name of Christ then fall from grace because of hidden sin.
Perhaps Christians are doing everything right, and the decline of "outsiders" approval is just fulfilling Jesus' prophecy, and it is nothing to worry about. Jesus also said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Are any of the public figures who claim the name of Christ known by their love? What if they were? How would that affect people's perception of Christianity? Am I known by my love? How do my actions affect this statistic?