Evangelicals Pan Media, Morals ... and Falwell


According to a new study, a majority of America's Evangelical Christians feel more a part of the mainstream yet continue to be "under siege," including from the mainstream media.

The study also finds that the media's favorite evangelical spokespeople aren't necessarily the favorites of their own flock.

Those are among the findings released today in a survey co-sponsored by PBS weekly public affairs show Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly and U.S. News and World Report magazine. 

A sizable majority (72%) of respondents say they feel the media are "hostile to their moral and spiritual values." Of course, they don't think much of other's moral compasses either. "More than three-quarters of white evangelicals, 94% of African American evangelicals, 87% of all African Americans, 74% of all Hispanics, and 71% of all Americans think moral values are seriously on the wrong track," the study found.

Although the media "often look to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to speak on behalf of all evangelical Christians," they are hardly the authorities of choice.

Falwell got a favorable rating from less than half of evangelicals polled (44%). Robertson got favorable marks from only slightly more (54%).

By contrast, Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) and Focus On the Family's James Dobson got far higher favorables at 73%.

The findings will be the basis of a four-part PBS series, America's Evangelicals, to begin airing the weekend of April 16, as well as a special report in the May 3 issue of U.S. News.. 

The nationwide survey of 1,610 adults was conducted March 16-April 4, 2004, by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5%.