Which Churches are most Active?

David Briggs:

Is this a way of also most politicized? or Constantinian?

The nation’s largest religious body is also by far the most likely to have its congregations take to the streets in public demonstrations or lobby the halls of power on moral issues, a new study finds.

And the Catholic Church’s prominent role on a broad range of issues from abortion to immigration reform may become even more pronounced as U.S. officials aim to follow the lead of Pope Francis in giving greater attention to issues such as economic inequality.

Look past the cultural stereotypes that tend to primarily associate religious activism with the black church, or the media attention paid to pitched battles among liberal and conservative Protestants.

When religious groups move from the noise of denominational battles to enlisting congregational foot soldiers for moral agendas, no group is more successful than the Catholic Church, the 2012 National Congregations Study finds.

A quarter of Catholic congregations reported that they had lobbied officials in the last 12 months, and more than half of Catholic congregations said they had organized or participated in a demonstration or march on a public issue or policy.

In contrast, just 10 percent of Protestant congregations reported taking either action, the study found.

And while Catholics were most active on the abortion issue, they also were more likely than other groups to lobby and demonstrate on a wide range of issues, from combating poverty to advocating for immigration reform.

The National Congregations Study, which also was conducted in 1998 and 2006-2007among a total of 2,740 congregations, gathered information from a nationally representative sample of 1,331 congregations for the 2012 study.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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