The myth of the “Christian failure narrative”

2 Jan

The notion that devout Christians are no different than their secular counterparts on any number of items (charitable giving, divorce, happiness, etc.), is a popular narrative perpetuated ironically by both seculars to dismiss Christianity and Christian leaders to chastise or motivate parishioners. The problem with the “Christian failure narrative” as sociologists Bradley Wilcox, Christina Zozula, and Bradley Wright explain, is that it isn’t true.

Article from the Journal of Religion and Society.  Here’s the abstract:

Many American Christians perceive that their faith is derided in public discourse. This negative portrayal is usually attributed to the secular media, which is assumed by many Christians to be liberal and biased against Christianity. This article develops an alternative mechanism for the production and distribution of bad news about Christianity – from the leaders of Christianity themselves. Church leaders may deploy negative portrayals of the church, as “failing,” in “crisis,” or otherwise not living up to Christian standards, in order to motivate their followers. We term this strategic negative portray the “Christian-failure narrative.” We develop this concept by examining in-depth one particular Christian failure narrative – the belief that Christians have inordinately high divorce rates. We compare popular perceptions of Christians’ divorce rates versus actual rates found in sociological data.

Here’s the full article (pdf)

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