Half of Pastors Hesitant to Talk About Tough Issues
American Pastors Network Points to New Study That Finds Pastors Are Feeling Pressure from Both Sides to address Homosexuality, Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion and More
PHILADELPHIA—Pastors have many concerns: if their flock’s needs are met, if church finances are on track, if their own families are healthy. Pastors also must decide if they will address the important societal issues from the pulpit, even when they feel pressure from both sides.
According to a new Barna Group study reported in Christianity Today, half of Christian pastors feel occasionally or frequently limited in their ability to speak out by concerns they will offend people. Specifically, “Protestant clergy feel the pressure around addressing LGBT identity and same-sex marriage, but that doesn’t mean they’ll change their message.”
This, says the American Pastors Network (APN, www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net), is the exact opposite of fulfilling the crucial pastor’s charge of preaching the whole counsel of God.
“When congregations need guidance now more than ever, as complicated societal issues are at the forefront of all of our lives, this is not the time for pastors to shy away from these important topics,” said APN President and national radio and television host Sam Rohrer. “The reasons for not addressing these subjects may vary from pastor to pastor—fear, anxiety, uncertainty or even apathy—but the fact is, pastors are called by God to stand up for biblical truth, especially in an ungodly, secular and immoral world that desperately needs it.”
According to the Barna study, pastors increasingly “feel the tension around whether and how to address hot-button moral and social issues.” At the core, 9 out of 10 pastors say helping Christians have biblical beliefs about specific issues is a major part of their role as clergy. But they feel pressure from all sides when it comes to addressing those issues.
“The stakes are high in the public square,” the researchers wrote. “The issues pastors feel most pressured to speak out on are the same ones they feel limited to speak on.”
For instance, top issues that parishioners pressure their pastors about—on both sides—include homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion. The study found these areas of concern for pastors and congregations:
- Homosexuality/LGBT: 44% of pastors feel limited to speak about these topics, while simultaneously, 37% feel pressured to address them.
- Same-sex marriage/gay rights (legal): 22% feel limited to address these, while 32% feel pressured.
- Abortion/pro-life: 18% limited, 17% pressured
- Morality (sexual/general): 14% limited, 11% pressured
- Politics/political parties/politicians: 12% limited, 12% pressured
- Marriage (general): 8% limited, 7% pressured
- Sex before marriage/promiscuity/cohabitation: 7% limited, 10% pressured
- Immigration: 7% limited, 5% pressured
- Religious freedom/church and state: 7% limited, 7% pressured
- Poverty/social justice: 7% limited, 7% pressured
Rohrer co-hosts the daily, live, one-hour “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program, which discusses cultural issues and headlines from a biblical and constitutional perspective. “Stand in the Gap TV,” which considers transcending cultural issues, seemingly difficult to navigate, from a biblical worldview perspective, airs on several national and regional networks.
View the media page for APN here, which also details information about “Stand in the Gap.” For more information on APN, visit www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net, its Facebook page or follow APN’s Twitter feed, @AmericanPastors. To form a state chapter of APN, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.