Have I Lost My Mind? I Like an Evangelical!

When I hear the word evangelical, the hairs on the back of neck start to rise, my blood pressure starts to rise and a sea of anger begins to boil in my throat. However, there is one Evangelical Christian that I like and even admire even though I think his religion daily tries to make progress a foreign word of the type found in glossolalia.

Founder of the Barna Group, George Barna, earns my respect, not because he is a researcher, but because he is a researcher who usually lets the numbers speak for themselves. I have used his research many times to make a point, letting other religionist know that the information I use comes from one of their own. Because he is usually honest with his research, it has not always kept him in the good graces of other Christians, even the evangelicals of which he is a member in good standing.

One of his studies that landed him in hot water with the evangelical and the born-again communities, was the research he released regarding divorce in the Christian community. That research included Catholics, Born-Again Christians, Evangelical Christians and other Protestant denominations such as Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc. Barna found that Christians were the most highly divorced group in the United States. He also found that individual groups like born-agains and evangelicals were no better in marriage failure rates.

That one study brought the wrath of numerous Christian magazines and newspapers, but it also showed up in national news media, including newspapers, television and radio. Reports from Christian media opposed to Barna's findings said the research was flawed, that is was a vendetta and more. However, studies by the Associated Press, ABC news and numerous colleges and universities vindicated Barna with research of their own that validated his study.

Although I've found some of his writings to be naive, such as the book, UNChristian, written by Barna's right-hand-man, David Kinnaman, for the most part his data in is on the money. I reviewed that book on this site and mentioned that Kinnaman was surprised that many Christian youth found the church too bigoted toward homosexuals, too involved with politics and lacking the universal love Jesus spoke of in the Bible. Of course, research wasn't necessary to determine that, at least as far as general information is concerned. Nevertheless, his surprise was genuinely puzzling.

When writing about current moral and ethical problems in the United States, I always turn to Barna at some point to get a religious viewpoint that is more likely, than not, to be unbiased even if the news is unfavorable to religion. And, as I previously mentioned, when writing about Protestant religion, I've found that even mentioning Barna's name changes the game. Not that he is the only source I use, but because he is usually scrupulously honest and fair.

Of course, when it comes to Biblical exegesis, I must part ways with Mr. Barna. However, when it comes everyday trends, I've found that his information is just as good as any secular source. For instance, his polling information predicted an Obama win and what it would mean for evangelicals, especially those courting political favor.

Normally, I don't truck with most Evangelicals, but George Barna is one of my exceptions.

 

PS: Barna’s logo isn’t my cup of tea, but it is their logo, not mine.

Views: 297

Tags: Barna, controversy, ethics, evangelical, morals, research

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 14, 2013 at 7:43am

Alex, I totally agree. We make not like the source of the truth, but is still the truth. As a black man, I am acutely aware of inventions, thoughts and more that come from despicable persons. However, the poverty of character or misguided belief have nothing to do with a superior idea or fact. Since we were speaking of the Barna Group, this little item popped up in my mailbox.

"The Barna Group recently concluded a five-year study comprised of eight national studies, which was done on teenagers and young adults between the ages of 18 to 29.

It found that nearly three out of every five young Christians (59 percent) disconnect from church life, either permanently or for a long period of time after the age of 15. Those polled were active in a Christian church during their teen years."

Now it does go on to cite theories that I would never derive from the data, but they have a vested interest in seeing that the information receives a spin that makes it at least somewhat palatable to his target audience--evangelicals! The main spin is that half of those numbers will be coming back. 

Any way, you always have to read the fine print in bold type (the spin)

Comment by Alex on November 12, 2013 at 8:59pm

I think sometimes we may have to remind ourselves as atheists that religious belief and scientific involvement are not mutually exclusive. If, as you say, George Barna keeps his religious beliefs separate from his research and objectively presents his findings, then he is a reliable source of information (to the extent of that data at least). We may completely disagree on his convictions about gods, but it isn't related to his other concrete findings (unless, of course, he makes it so by intertwining the two, which he apparently does not).

Comment by Luara on November 11, 2013 at 5:00am

Well, I got a Fitdesk like I posted, so I can get exercise without risking allergic reactions.  I can't stand not getting exercise either. I think this is a great invention, you can get stuff done while getting exercise. 

The food problems aren't so bad because certain foods are relatively easy to avoid.  But one has to breathe often, so inhalant allergens can be very hard to avoid. 

I haven't had allergic reactions from being around someone momentarily who has a dog (so they have dog dander on their clothes).  But I did get sick recently because a guy did plumbing work here for about half an hour, and he'd played a lot with a dog at a previous customer's house.

I used to do a lot of creative and intellectual things, like reading math, oil painting and creative writing, that I'm not doing right now.  Mostly the "foggy head" from allergies interferes.  Maybe you are familiar with foggy-headed feelings, because I've heard that chemotherapy can cause a "chemo-brain" where one can't think very well.  When I was really sick, living in my house, I told people it felt similar to how you would feel if you were awakened at 2 AM - grotty, not very conscious, not alert. 

It seems that multiple chemical sensitivity hasn't been confirmed by double-blind experiments, so people's symptoms "from chemicals" are caused by their knowledge of what they were exposed to, not anything about the chemicals themselves.  So people who believe they have MCS should try desensitization with a therapist.  There's a "cognitive sensitization" that happens in people's brains that seems to be involved in MCS. 

Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 10, 2013 at 9:35pm

It is difficult dealing with so many different views. At least mine was straight forward. I couldn't take it. I'd go crazy dealing with something like you do. That is a tough row to hoe. I can't keep still and love the outdoors and just about every kind of food. Take care and get you some life if you can. I hope your allergies don't keep you cooped up where you can't mix with the mess with call humanity. Keep going and hopefully one of the scientist will be right or at least not wrong.

Comment by Luara on November 10, 2013 at 7:38pm

That is scary, having lymphoma.  At least allergies don't put me in fear of death! 

I'm not hoping to do something for my problems by looking at the research.  I did suggest a drug my doctor agreed would be useful for me, but he said I would have to go to a doctor in Canada to have it prescribed for me. 

Partly I'm curious, and partly I'm sick of hearing the science totally misrepresented by "skeptics" who state things like "the actual rate of food allergies is 2-5%" - when the actual rate is unknown - etc. etc. 

Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 10, 2013 at 5:14pm

Laura--I'm glad to hear that. I know what it is to be sick (lymphoma and chemo). Being sick can really ruin a good day. I never understood much about allergies, but you cleared up some thoughts I had about it.

I have been following the Protestant clergy for about three years to compare pedophilia with the Catholic Church. Well I found that it is just as bad if not worse, but in my research I found an entire list of things done by Protestant ministers that far exceed the Catholic Church. Priests are largely fall into pedophiles and embezzlers, but Protest ministers were all over the place. Pedophiles, rapists, armed robbers, drug dealers, male prostitution, soliciting, murder and more. As soon as I can pare it down a bit tonight, I will post it just to show how crooked the supposed best of religion (ministers, preachers, deacons, pastors) are worse than their congregations.

Comment by Luara on November 10, 2013 at 12:37pm

Yes, the allergies completely dominate my life right now.  I got so extremely sensitized because I was chronically exposed to allergens, chronically sick for years and I didn't know why.  Being chronically exposed can cause a vicious circle where allergies get worse and worse because the tissues in the nose get more mast cells, start making more IgE etc. etc. 

So I rented a new mobile home - ok for allergens, but I'm sure it has a lot of those chemicals the article talks about (outgassing from synthetics etc.)  I sure hope I don't get MCS from being here!  I don't need more problems!

I've always kind of thought that people who claim extreme chemical sensitivities are expressing psychological issues, because the people I've met who think that sort of thing, did have a lot of emotional stuff going on.  The article does say those sensitivities often aren't confirmed by blind challenges, and it wasn't clear how often the blind challenges do confirm a chemical sensitivity.  Usually it's proteins that cause allergic reactions, and some weird hypersensitivity triggered by exposure to toxins would need lots of scientific confirmation to become believable. 

I wouldn't say I'm suffering a lot, I'm just soldiering along, very determined to do everything I can.  I'm getting anti-IgE therapy with Xolair - over time it's supposed to downregulate IgE responses a great deal.  If my food allergies are also IgE-mediated allergies localized in my gut,maybe over time it will do away with those also.  It would be a huge liberation to be free of allergies!

Sometimes people eat worm eggs to downregulate the allergic response.  The IgE antibodies that cause allergic reactions, are intended by evolution to deal with parasites.  We have few parasites in the modern world, so the idea is that the immune system goes nuts because it doesn't have enough to do.  So giving oneself a worm infestation seems to help (and I've thought of doing that too). 

But yes, right now you people are my main social life :)  It really is very strange to be in this state where I'm excluded from the normal dog (and cat)-permeated world.  I didn't know that allergies could do this to a person, I didn't know this state existed. 

I am slowly getting better, I don't stay sick as long from an allergic reaction and I'm less sick from allergies.  So I'm maybe in a virtuous circle now :)

Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 10, 2013 at 11:48am

That's it Laura! Discover is a magazine I Read regularly and that is the story I saw. I knew I was crazy and that I actually saw it. Wow! Do your allergies keep you from normal activities? I used to suffer hay fever, but it went away somewhere along the line. You must suffer terribly! I can't imagine it. Are you researching to help yourself also? My heart goes out to you.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 10, 2013 at 11:43am

I think I was ahead of the curve when I wrote that. Now, there are many black atheist sites and organizations. I spoke with many of those people live. It was an interesting journey for me because there were few that wanted to talk about it, but I did find them and most were just waiting for someone on their side of the fence to say it was okay and have interest. Plus, I learned so much in researching it live. A white man in New York, William Allen Smith, helped me tremendously by putting me in touch withe people like Norman Allen and his brother Dave, who put me in touch with Anthony Pinn, who directed me to Dr. Corey G. Washington.Each one of these people put in touch with others that had stories to tell. I found Reginald Finey who had an Internet Radio show called the Infidel Guy.

Comment by Luara on November 10, 2013 at 11:25am

Donald,

You meant this article on "multiple chemical sensitivity"?

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