If we Christians are to love other people, this would imply, at the very least, that we interact with them. There are many, many data sets that measure social ties-this is something that sociologists like to study-but I want to focus on neighbors. The concept of “neighbor” in Scripture is much broader than simply the people living near us, but it certainly includes them. The 2006 Social Capital Community Study asks respondents how often they talk or visit with their immediate neighbors. As shown in Figure 7.1, Protestant respondents were the mostly likely (53%) to interact at least once a week with their neighbors, followed by Catholics (50%), those with no religious affiliation (46%), and members of other religions (44%). Among Protestants, there is a modest positive association between church attendance and interacting with neighbors. Whereas 49% of Protestants who never attended church talked or visited with their neighbors weekly, 56% of the weekly attendees did so.
Do Christians Love Others? In looking at love, let’s start with Christians’ attitudes toward others. Two survey questions from the General Social Survey pertain to selflessness. The first asks how often the respondents feel a selfless caring for others, and the second asks how often they accept others even when others do things they think are wrong. Figure 7.2 plots how many respondents report doing these two things on a daily basis. Black Protestants, especially, and Evangelical Christians score highest on these measures, with about 40% or more agreeing that they selflessly care for and accept others. In contrast, only about 25% of the religiously unaffiliated report doing so.
Among Evangelicals, those who attend church services most frequently report the most caring and acceptance. About one-third of the never-attendees selflessly care for others on a daily basis compared to 45% of the more regular attendees. Similarly, only 26% of the never-attendees regularly accept others when they are wrong, but 46% of the weekly attendees do so.
Another aspect of Christian love is caring for the disadvantaged and exploited. The General Social Survey asks two questions in this regard. The first asks respondents if they are described well by the statement: “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me,” and the second asks respondents if they agree with the statement: “When I see someone being taken advantage of, I feel kind of protective toward them.” When it comes to how many respondents agree with these statements, Evangelicals score the highest on both measures. Eighty percent of the Evangelical respondents reported being concerned for those less fortunate, and 86% reported feeling protective toward those taken advantage of. In contrast, the religiously unaffiliated registered the lowest scores, with 68% reporting concern and 75% reporting feeling protective. — Bradley R.E. Ph.D. Wright. Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (pp. 156-160). Kindle Edition.
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