Polling pastors on evolution

A poll of Protestant pastors in the United States found that they "overwhelmingly believe that God did not use evolution to create humans and think Adam and Eve were literal people," according to a press release (January 9, 2012) issued by LifeWay Research. LifeWay Research is a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination not conspicuously sympathetic toward evolution, as a 1982 resolution illustrates.

Presented with "I believe God used evolution to create people," 12% of respondents strongly agreed, 12% somewhat agreed, 8% somewhat disagreed, and 64% strongly disagreed; 4% were unsure. Respondents in the northeast were more likely to strongly agree (25%) than respondents in the west (13%), midwest (12%), and south (8%); Mainline Protestants were more likely to strongly agree (25%) than Evangelicals (8%).

Presented with "I believe Adam and Eve were literal people," 74% of respondents strongly agreed, 8% somewhat agreed, 6% somewhat disagreed, and 11% strongly disagreed; 1% were not sure. Evangelicals were more likely to strongly agree (82%) than Mainline Protestants (50%); respondents with graduate degrees were most likely to strongly disagree (16%) than respondents whose highest degree was a bachelor's degree (2%).

Presented with "I believe the earth is approximately six thousand (6,000) years old," 30% of respondents strongly agreed, 16% somewhat agreed, 9% somewhat disagreed, and 34% strongly disagreed; 12% were unsure. Respondents age 18-44 were less likely to strongly disagree (24%) than respondents age 45-54, 55-64, and 65 and older (33%, 38%, 38%); those with a graduate degree were more likely to strongly disagree (42%) than those with only a bachelor's degree (18%).

Presented with "Most of my congregation believes in evolution," 10% of respondents strongly agreed, 9% somewhat agreed, 13% somewhat disagreed, and 62% strongly disagreed; 5% were unsure. Asked how often they taught in their church "on the subject of creation and evolution," 3% of respondents said several times a month, 4% said about once a month, 28% said several times a year, 29% said about once a year, 26% said rarely, and 8% said never; 1% were not sure.

The poll was conducted by telephone in May 2011 among 1000 Protestant pastors. According to LifeWay Research, "The calling list was randomly drawn from a list [unspecified] of all Protestant churches. ... Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted to reflect the geographic distribution of Protestant churches. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +/- 3.2%."

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