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Mainline Protestant Clergy on Evolution

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Title: 
Mainline Protestant Clergy on Evolution
Volume: 
29
Issue: 
4
Year: 
2009
Date: 
July–August
Page(s): 
5
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

A recent study of mainline Protestant clergy conducted by Public Religion Research included a few questions about evolution. According to the report of the survey:

Mainline clergy views of evolution and its place in public school curriculum are complex. On the one hand, the majority of mainline clergy (54%) do not support the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in public school biology classes. On the other hand, mainline clergy are more evenly divided in their views about the theory of evolution itself. Forty-four percent of mainline ministers say that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of life on earth, and a similar number disagrees (43%). United Methodist clergy and American Baptist clergy are most likely to disagree. [Seven in ten] American Baptist clergy (70%) and a majority (53%) of United Methodist clergy say that evolution is not the best explanation for the origins of life on earth.

To provide the details, when asked if creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public school biology classes, 15% of the respondents strongly agreed, 21% agreed,10% were not sure, 19% disagreed, and 35% strongly disagreed.

When asked if evolution is the best explanation for the origins of life on earth, 13% of the respondents strongly agreed, 31% agreed, 13% were unsure, 20% disagreed, and 23% strongly disagreed. In any case, the respondents were generally not outspoken about their views: only 3% of the respondents indicated that they very often expressed their views about teaching about evolution in public schools in the last year and only 13% indicated that they often did so; 42% indicated that they seldom did so and 42% indicated that they never did so.

The respondents were clergy from each of the seven largest mainline Protestant denominations: the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the American Baptist Churches USA, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The survey was conducted by mail between March 3 and September 15, 2008.

For further details, visit http://www.publicreligion.org/research/?id=167.