Most Protestant pastors think Bush, Palin are Christians but not Obama

December 7, 2010

WASHINGTON (RNS) The vast majority of Protestant pastors think
former President George W. Bush is a Christian, but less than half think
President Obama is, a new LifeWay Research survey shows.


Three-quarters of Protestant pastors surveyed called Bush a
Christian, followed by 66 percent who included former Republican vice
presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the Christian fold. Just 41
percent said they believe Obama is a Christian.


About a quarter of pastors surveyed -- 27 -- percent said
conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck, a Mormon, is a Christian. Oprah
Winfrey came in last of the five personalities mentioned in the survey,
with only 19 percent calling her a Christian.


"Most Americans consider themselves Christian and, for many of them,
the `Oprahfication' of American spirituality has been a good thing,"
said Ed Stetzer, president of the Southern Baptist-affiliated research
group. "Yet, the overwhelming majority of Protestant pastors don't view
Oprah as a Christian."


Stetzer said the responses may indicate that Protestant pastors are
more particular than other people when considering who is and is not a
Christian. For some pastors, being "Christian" is synonymous with being
"born again" or "evangelical," he said.


"Using their standard, the majority would not agree that President
Obama is a Christian, though he is a mainline Protestant," Stetzer said.
"And it is likely that Glenn Beck's Mormonism, widely viewed by
Protestants as a different religion rather than a different Christian
denomination, probably caused many to indicate he is not a Christian."


The results are based on telephone interviews with Protestant
pastors Oct. 7-14 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2
percentage points.

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