Family, friends and the media are more influential in shaping the immigration views of U.S. Evangelicals than the Bible, according to a LifeWay Research report published on September 27.
Evangelicals were given a list of nine possible influences on their immigration views and asked to respond to the following question: “Which three of the following have influenced your thinking the most on immigration?”
Friends and family were listed in the top three by 51% of respondents, with the media a close second at 46%.
The Bible (36%) was the next most frequent source in respondents’ top-three list, followed by immigrants respondents have observed (33%), positions of elected officials (32%), immigrants respondents have interacted with (30%), the local church (19%), national Christian leaders (11%) and teachers or professors (7%). “Not sure” appeared in the top three for 11% of respondents.
When asked to identify what has influenced their immigration views the most, 23% said the media, followed by the Bible (20%), friends and family (16%), immigrants respondents have observed (11%), immigrants respondents have interacted with (10%), positions of elected officials (6%), the local church (3%), national Christian leaders (1%) and teachers or professors (less than 1%). Another 6% were not sure about the most significant influence, and 4% did not provide a response.
“More self-identified evangelicals say their thinking on immigration is most influenced by the Bible or the media than in 2015, and fewer say they are most influenced by immigrants with whom they have interacted,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, in a press release announcing the report. “While more evangelicals point to understanding and accepting the Bible’s influence on the topic of immigration, the majority do not yet appear to have made it primary.”
Most Evangelicals (61%) have not heard their local church encourage outreach to immigrants living in their communities, and most (76%) say they “would value hearing a sermon that teaches how biblical principles and examples can be applied to immigration in the U.S.”
Only a third (34%) of respondents said their congregation has a ministry initiative focused on helping refugees or other immigrants, while a similar number (36%) of respondents said they have been involved in ministering to immigrants or refugees either currently (15%) or in the past (21%).
Most (83%) respondents view legal immigration as helpful to the U.S., while a majority say the U.S. has a moral responsibility to accept: refugees fleeing religious persecution (74%), people from other countries fleeing natural disasters (73%), people from other countries seeking to be reunited with family members in the U.S. legally (67%) and people from other countries fleeing poverty (60%).
Nearly seven in 10 (69%) believe that Christians “have a responsibility to care sacrificially for refugees and other foreigners” and nearly six in 10 (58%) say Christians “have a responsibility to assist immigrants even if they are here illegally.”
The full report is available here. The overall margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.