14.04.19 - BC's Christians Range Across Spiritual and Moral Spectrum
Summary: Easter poll suggests that many stray far from doctrine - 'there are lots of shades of grey'

Christians in B.C. do not come in cookie-cutter uniformity. There is a great deal of variation and disagreement among respondents to an Insights West survey who said they are Christians.

Indeed, the poll suggests the almost 2.5 million B.C. residents who consider themselves Roman Catholics or Protestants do not even walk in step with some foundational Christian teachings.

For instance, the poll suggests a quarter of B.C.'s Christians do not believe in "some form of life after death," despite classic Christianity teaching that the resurrection of Jesus Christ (at Easter) ensures an afterlife for those who believe in his divinity. And 26 per cent of Christian respondents do not embrace the traditional church teaching that "Jesus was the actual son of God."

This leaves open the possibility many self-avowed Christians in B.C. think of Jesus as a wise man who may have, more generally, embodied the divine. And though the new Insights West poll found a majority of respondents (64 per cent) believe the "Bible is the actual inspired word of God," the result still means more than a third think the Bible may be more metaphorical. Perhaps they think of the Bible as a collection of human reflections on a Supreme Being.

"There is not a lot of blackand-white thinking in B.C. in regards to religion, including Christianity. There are lots of shades of grey," said Mario Canseco, who conducted the poll of 815 B.C. residents exclusively for The Vancouver Sun. The online survey was done last weekend.

The poll suggests 31 per cent of B.C. Christians are Roman Catholics. The rest are an eclectic range of Protestants - from Anglicans and United Church of Canada members to Baptists and other evangelicals.

The results suggest a third of the province's self-described Christians attend church at least once a month. Most of the rest attend less often, many on special occasions like baptisms, marriages or funerals.

On sexual morality, West Coast Christians are also all over the ethical map. Even though high-profile Christian leaders often insist the New Testament clearly opposes homosexual relationships, the poll suggests most B.C. Christians judge homosexuality as "acceptable."

"It's astonishing," said Canseco, that 62 per cent of Christian respondents - and 73 per cent of all respondents - find homosexuality acceptable. "We've come a long way in just a decade or two."

The main sex-related moral act that most oppose (at 92 per cent) is "married men or women having an affair." As Canseco says, "In B.C., infidelity is basically viewed as unforgivable."

B.C. Christians are consistent on only a relatively few religious beliefs. More than four out of five Christian respondents believe in miracles. Roughly three in four said there is "some sort of creator of the universe" and that angels and heaven exist.

But fewer believe in negative traditional church teachings, with just over half accepting the existence of Satan, demons and hell.

B.C. Christians seem roughly divided on evolution. Fifty per cent of Christians respondents (compared to 34 per cent of all respondents) agree with "creationism," which is largely an evangelical Christian belief that the universe is only 6,000 years old.

B.C. Christians are also equally divided in how they view the Bible. A strong minority are more literal in their Biblical convictions than many mainstream Christian leaders, who do not consider it necessary to believe that Adam or Eve were historical figures. For example, 49 per cent of Christian respondents said they believe the Book of Genesis is reporting fact when it recounts how "Noah built an ark and saved animals and humans from a flood."

Some 58 per cent indicated they accept as fact a central Christian conviction related to Easter Sunday - that "Jesus resurrected from death from the cross on the third day."

Spiritual practices among B.C. Christians are also wide-ranging. Even though 80 per cent of Christian respondents said they pray, another 53 per cent meditate, which is more often associated with Eastern religions. The most common reason given for praying, however, is to express "gratitude" (83 per cent), while 67 per cent also pray about health or safety or guidance.

Poll responses

The first number refers to all poll respondents; the second refers to just those respondents who identified themselves as Christian.

Q: How much do you personally believe, or disbelieve, in each of the following?

58% God (86% for Christians)

58% afterlife (73% for Christians)

52% heaven (78% for Christians)

45% Jesus was the actual son of God (74% for Christians)

39% Bible is actual inspired word of God (64% for Christians)

37% Satan (58% for Christians)

37% hell (57% for Christians)

37% creationism (50% for Christians)

61% miracles (65% for Christians)

61% karma (65% for Christians)

33% reincarnation (35% for Christians)

Q: Regardless of whether you think each of the following issues should be legal or not, are they morally acceptable or morally unacceptable to you? Showing responses for "acceptable"

82% sex before marriage (74% for Christians)

81% divorce (74% for Christians)

73% same-sex marriage (62% for Christians)

72% doctor assisted suicide (63% for Christians)

67% abortion (55% for Christians)

45% prostitution (34% for Christians)

10% married men or women having affair (8% for Christians)

Read the original news story here:
B.C.'s Christians range across spiritual and moral spectrum

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