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How confident do Christian leaders feel about the Bible and politics?

Author: Rob Barward-Symmons, 12 June 2024

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It’s one thing to believe the Bible has a lot to say about politics, and another to get up in front of a large group and guide them through what it actually does say.

Our resources are designed to help you if you’re in this situation, but before the election was announced we wanted to better understand how church leaders themselves feel about the Bible, politics – and how to speak about this to others.

To do this, we surveyed close to 100 church leaders at events in the spring of 2024 to help us understand their perceptions and confidence in the area. Here are a few key themes that came through from our respondents.

The Bible not only speaks to political issues, but actively encourages Christians to get engaged

This was reassuring to find out! At the heart of our campaign is the idea that Christians can, and should, look to the Bible for guidance in political decision making, and that Scripture encourages Christians to participate in politics. Over 90 per cent of church leaders agreed that ‘the Bible is very relevant to contemporary political topics’, while more than 75 per cent agreed that the Bible encourages Christians to get involved in politics.

Christian leaders should talk about politics – but sometimes this is easier said than done

Even with scriptural encouragement to participate in politics, does this mean church leaders should be talking about it? Among our respondents, the answer was a clear yes. Seventy-three per cent disagreed with the idea that Christian leaders should avoid talking about politics. However, the fact is that for many leaders this remains difficult. Forty-four per cent agreed that they found it difficult to speak to their church about political issues, with only 29 per cent disagreeing.

Leaders may have confidence in looking to the Bible for their own political involvement, but congregations are a different matter

So we know that the Bible can be drawn on for political engagement, but how confident are Christians in actually looking to the Bible for this? Among the leaders themselves, we found that generally confidence was high – two-thirds of participants said they felt fairly or very confident in looking to the Bible for guidance in political involvement. However, when thinking about their congregations, only 12 per cent of leaders felt they were fairly or very confident. 

There is a desperate need for more support

Why is there such a gap between the confidence of leadership and their congregations in this area? One thing we found is that many church leaders lack the confidence to equip their congregations for biblical political involvement – 56 per cent said they were not at all or only slightly confident in this. But the clearest message from the survey was that Christians – whether leaders or lay people – need more help to apply the Bible to contemporary political topics. When we put this to our respondents, over 95 per cent agreed.

So how do we improve this? 

The old saying that polite conversation should avoid the topics of religion and politics poses a challenge to Christian leaders looking to engage their congregations and communities in key issues during the electoral period. What we found is that among those who passionately believe – as we do – that the Bible is a great resource for engaging with contemporary political issues, this can be a difficult task, and there hasn’t been enough support there to help Christians.

That’s where Britain and the Bible: Equipping the Church for the General Election comes in. We have put together these resources to help Christians think through these crucial issues, feel equipped to speak to others about the issues, and feel confident to prayerfully apply their principles to their own political engagement. 

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