Presbyterian ‘characteristics’ unlike many PCUSA actions
By John H. Adams, The Layman Online, August 9, 2000
What the Presbyterian Church (USA) does as a denomination and its characteristics as a people are not always one and the same, according to a report by the Presbyterian Panel. The panel recently issued its annual report on the “Characteristics of Members of the PCUSA.”
The report showed that a denomination which officially sides with Democrats on just about every major partisan issue has more than twice as many Republicans as it does Democrats. The breakdown: 55 percent Republican, 25 percent Democrat, 17 percent independent and 3 percent other.
Political characteristicsAlthough much of the rhetoric at General Assembly and meetings of other governing bodies comes from the theological left of the denomination, only 15 percent of the Panel’s respondents identified themselves as theological liberals. Thirty-eight percent said they were conservative and 47 percent said they were moderate.
Theological characteristicsPresbyterians are generally older, well educated, and financially secure. The average age is 55; 40 percent have a college education; and 22 percent have a graduate degree. More than half have family income of $60,000 and above.
The poll showed that 67 percent of Presbyterians oppose ordination of sexually-active homosexuals. Only 25 percent favored their ordination, and eight percent had no opinion. The poll did not reflect how they would vote on the new issue before the denomination – whether to prohibit ministers from performing same-sex unions.
While a majority hold what might be called traditional and Biblical views, there’s not a lot of enthusiasm for hell. Only 51 percent believe in a literal hell. Eighty-six percent believe in life after death and 78 percent believe in heaven.
Seventy-five percent have a high view of the authority of Scripture: 27 percent believe it is without error and 48 percent believe the Bible has no error in spiritual matters. Twenty-five percent believe the Bible errs both in spiritual and secular matters.
On issues: 63 percent favor capital punishment; 10 percent favor affirmative action for African-Americans; 56 approve of welfare reform; 32 percent rank global warming as one of the most serious environmental problems; and 84 percent favor a worldwide nuclear test ban.