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What Most Americans Think about Christians May Be Surprising

07-04-2016
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Many Christians are all too familiar with real life threats to their religious liberty these days.

They range from the dilemma of Christian wedding vendors being forced to participate in gay weddings or face financial consequences to a California bill that threatens the ability of Christian colleges to operate according to their religious convictions.

Now, research shows that many Americans recognize the growing intolerance Christians face. A survey from Nashville-based Lifeway Research indicates that 63 percent of respondents say Christians face increasing intolerance, up from 50 percent in 2013.

Also, 60 percent say religious liberty is on the decline, compared with 54 percent in 2013.

Lifeway researchers interviewed 1,000 Americans in September 2015 and September 2013 and then compared the results.

"More Americans worry the U.S. has a hostile environment for religious liberty," Ed Stetzer, executive director of Lifeway Research, said.

However, the survey also showed that 43 percent say American Christians complain too much about how they are treated, compared with 34 percent in 2013.

That viewpoint creates a complicated challenge for many believers: how to help friends and the public at large understand their religious liberty concerns while avoiding coming across as disgruntled whiners.

Dr. Barry Corey, president of Biola University in La Mirada, California, recently wrote a book Love Kindness to encourage Christians to focus on kindness in their daily interactions with a society that doesn't always agree with their beliefs.

It's an approach that more Christian leaders are adopting in a time when so much of the country understands so little about the evangelical Christian faith.

Corey, one of the leaders in the effort to oppose California's anti-Christian college bill SB 1146,  wrote the book before state lawmakers introduced the measure. But he noted it applies to the battle over the proposed legislation.

"We want to lead with grace and kindness," he told CBN News.

California's Assembly Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the bill on Tuesday, June 28. If approved it will move to the Appropriations Committee and then on to the full Assembly for a vote.

The state senate has already approved the legislation.

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