How Worldview Caused 2020 Events, Part 2 – With George Barna: Why does the idea of socialism appeal to so many Americans? What is the remedy for this openness to, even desire for, socialism? How do we position capitalism to fit within the value-set of Americans…because it does? What happened with polling during the 2020 election? Does the Church have Biblical theology? How can conservatives communicate more effectively? Tune in to hear the conclusion of George Barna’s presentation from the ProFamily Legislators Conference!
Air Date: 07/07/2021
Guest: George Barna
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live. We’re taking on the hot topics of the day, all kinds of issues that affect all of our lives, our individual lives, our family lives, our church lives, our property, our business, all of those things in the culture affect us. And so we need to be paying attention to those and we need to know how to respond biblically.
That’s why here on WallBuilders Live, we always say, look, we’re going to take on the hot topics, but we’re going to look at them from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. That’s the right way to look at every issue in the culture. And that’s what our program today is going to do.
I’m Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator, and America’s constitution coach, normally here with David Barton, America’s premier historian, and Tim Barton, president of WallBuilders around here. And normally, we’re all three together and taking on that hot topic, but today we’re going back to the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
Yesterday, we started with George Barna’s presentation to the legislators, we got about halfway through. It’s time to dive in today and get the conclusion. Here’s George Barna at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
We actually had 4.7 million more Protestants vote for President Trump this time than last time. But that was more than compensated for by Catholics switching back in the 2016 election, it was the first time in more than 24 years that Catholics have voted for the Republican candidate. In 2020, they reverted back to the normal process, and the majority of them voted for the Democratic candidate. 2.8 million votes swing among Catholics.
Look at the “Don’ts”, and you know, again, we’ve got a big swing there, a net loss within the religious community. This doesn’t even look at people who are associated with other faiths, who essentially by 2:1 margin vote for the progressive Democratic candidates. So things are actually worse than I’m showing you. But I’m depressing you enough, so I didn’t want to put everything on there. Hey, it’s my job.
You know, as we look at the future, what we know is that engagement with Protestant church is going to continue to shrink and with that will be continued shrinkage of conservative votes coming out of that sector of society. Catholics right now are being led by an individual who essentially espouses socialist philosophies, and so the possibilities of them becoming more conservative, not very likely. And of course, the “Don’ts” are continuing to grow. They’re younger, they’re more progressive, etc.
So what’s my point? And I do have one. It’s that the Christian body in America, if you will, is really no longer a monolithic united community. We’re in a period of history where what’s loosely known as the Christian church is losing its leverage and its influence because of that loss of unity.
The SAGE Cons
We did have a group that we call the SAGE Cons, Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservative Christians. I’ve spoken in this venue before about them, incredibly important group.
In 2016, I argued in one of my books that they were the ones that put President Trump over the top in 2016, because 91% of them turned out, and of those 91%, 93% voted for President Trump. In this particular election, their turnout was actually two points higher, and they were actually more united in their support of President Trump. So SAGE Cons aren’t the problem, the problem with SAGE Cons is that they’re only 8% or 9% of the national population and shrinking. And so again, the same issue that we have with Protestants.
Here’s something else I want you to hear. This is coming out of the American Worldview Inventory, that piece of research we’ve been doing on worldview in America. People who attend evangelical churches, less and less have evangelical theology, or biblical theology.
And here are some examples of that. Among the people who attend evangelical churches, roughly a quarter of the population. What we’ve got is that a majority of them do not believe that there is such a thing as absolute moral truth. 52% would say that.
A majority believe that the Bible is neither inerrant, nor trustworthy, nor personally relevant. We find that 61% of them do not read the Bible daily. More than 4 out of 10 of them believe that Jesus Christ sinned when he was on Earth. 62% say that having some faith regardless of which one it is, is more important than which one it is.
A minority of people attending evangelical churches believe that success can be defined as consistent obedience to God; half of them believe that a person who is good or who does enough good things can earn their salvation. More than 4 out of 10 of them believe that the Bible is ambiguous in its teachings about abortion. 4 out of 10 of them do not believe that human life is sacred. Almost 4 out of 10 of them to say that they would prefer socialism to capitalism. That’s the Evangelical Church.
Now, I’ve got the data for Pentecostal churches, for mainline churches, for Catholic churches, for non-Christian religious groups. It’s worse. It’s a continuum. It gets worse, as you move down that line. This is as good as it gets.
The Legislators’ Role Is Critical
And this isn’t good. And so once again, I’m telling you, I’m imploring you, your role as legislators is critical. If pastors aren’t going to do it, maybe you can. Maybe you can demonstrate the kind of leadership that hopefully God called you to. And I’m not saying there aren’t pastors who don’t lead, there are, but they are radically outnumbered by the others.
And so, you know, we look at all this, and I would say to you, the Christian church no longer has enough consensual biblical theology that it can be a positive force for good. It lacks a shared vision from God for the future of the nation. One message will not fit all. We’ve got to rethink the process. Let me talk to you very briefly about this idea of socialism. And socialism continues to have great appeal…
Oh, if people can’t read it at the top, you’re saying I want free education, free health care, free housing and free food. Guy at the bottom says have you considered going to prison?
The appeal of socialism is based on my research at least, and we’ve done a fair amount of this based on ignorance of history, and the effects of our choices. Nationally, what we know is depending on how you measure it, somewhere between 35-40% of Americans claim that they would prefer socialism to capitalism.
Now, when we dig deeper, and we start explaining to them what socialism actually is, number one, they’re surprised; number two, that support dwindles. And so really, this is an issue of education and communication, which again, you’re in a great position to help lead. So I would encourage you to do that.
What we know is that socialism on the face of it appeals to many people because of that value set that I described to you before. Socialism makes sense if you think that what really matters are things like comfort, and entitlement, and happiness. But if you look at some of the more traditional values, socialism, of course, doesn’t fit.
Alright, friends, got to interrupt just for a second. Got to take a quick break, we’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
A Moment From AMERICAN HISTORY
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. In the early 1700s, the Reverend John Wise preached that all men were created equal, that taxation without representation was tyranny, and that God’s preferred form of government was the consent of the governed: all of which is language recognizable on the Declaration of Independence. Why?
Because in 1772, the Sons of Liberty led by founders such as Sam Adams and John Hancock, reprinted and distributed the Reverend Wise’s sermons. So four years later, much of the declaration reflected the language of those sermons by John Wise. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge affirmed “The thoughts in the declaration can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was saying.”
Few today know that the Declaration was so strongly influenced by the Reverend John Wise. For more information on this and other stories, go to wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. We’re going to dive right back in with George Barna speaking at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
How Can Conservatives Communicate Capitalism
I would say, part of the challenge to us is to try to figure out how do we position capitalism to fit within the value set of Americans? It does. We just need to think that through and be and be conversant in how to get that across.
Keep in mind, however, that we’re not just talking about the snowflake generation. We’re talking about all generations in America, who have an interest in socialism. It’s not just young people. And so we have to address that.
Something else that I’ll tell you having studied American thinking and behavior for the last 40 plus years, is that Americans are abundantly superficial. By our historical nature, we are a nation of doers, not a nation of thinkers. And so we don’t like to sit down and reflect. We like to go out and do something, even if it’s stupid, even if it’s wrong, at least we accomplish something. And we feel good about that.
And I believe when we’re talking about socialism, it’s the same issue. It’s like, change is good. Let’s change to socialists, even though there’s no evidence that it has ever worked anywhere.
And if you look at the nature of our country, it cannot work. But we don’t spend the time thinking about that. And certainly, we don’t have a media that’s going to help us do that.
One thing I’ll tell you also in our studies of churches, we know that churches refused to discuss this issue. So once again, if somebody is going to bring it up, it’s probably not going to be done in our churches. But you’ve got that opportunity. I’d like to just quickly touch on the whole idea of polling, and what happened with polling during the course of this particular election.
And I would suggest you that really we’ve got a problem with technology and humanity when it comes to polling. Technology has really changed the way that we can conduct research and humanity has changed the reasons why we do it, and how we report it. And by that, what I mean is that basically, greed and deceit have taken over the polling industry.
During the course of this election cycle, it was appalling as a professional pollster to watch my industry weaponize something that was created by the Gallup family and a few others, Archibald Crosley and a few others back in the 1930s as something that was meant to inform leaders of what the public was thinking what they needed so that they could make better decisions.
Instead, between 2016 and 2020, a group of pollsters mostly funded by the media decided that because people had trust in the polls, they could use that as a tool to manipulate public opinion, not simply to reflect it. And so that’s what we had going on. You know, there really was, I would suggest a whole different mindset about how polling happened what the purpose of it was in this particular election.
And so, ultimately, I would say that we did have collusion, but it wasn’t between the Russians and the Republicans, it was between the media and the pollsters. And the whole idea there was to suppress votes and to suppress donor dollars going to conservative candidates. Now, I’d like to suggest to you that you think about this.
Many of you probably use pollsters in your campaigns. You’ve got to be awfully careful who you use. And one of the things that we started tinkering with over the last couple of years, I’ve been at Arizona Christian University, and we started something they’re called the Cultural Research Center. And we’ve been doing a lot of worldview, worldview is kind of our forte, we study that ad nauseum. But we also do a lot of cultural transformation research. And during this past 18 months or so, we’ve done a lot of political research.
And one of the things I was testing was trying out was a different way of trying to objectively and accurately assess who people will vote for in the midst of a culture where people are afraid to tell somebody they don’t know some of their private thoughts about something that could really come back and hurt them. And that’s what we saw.
2020 Election Polling
I mean, before the election happened, I had written some articles about I thought there was somewhere between 4-8% of the voting public that was supporting President Trump, but would never admit it publicly in a poll. I mean, we tested that, and that’s what we concluded. And part of that was because I tested a different model.
And you might think about this for your elections in the future, where we never asked people which candidate they would vote for. We told them that upfront, because we wanted them to participate in the survey. And we knew that if they thought we were going to ask that, they wouldn’t participate.
When response rates go down, the reliability of the data goes down. So we told them, we’re not going to ask you that.
And we went through the survey. We never did ask that. But I had a module of questions where we asked other types of questions that enabled us to see with crystal clarity who it was they would vote for. And so in this particular election, we had a whole different horse race approach, where once we qualified somebody as likely voter, we would ask questions about the significance of the election.
We had whole 25 different attributes that we asked about the candidates running against each other. And from that attribute profile alone, you can pretty much tell who somebody is going to vote for.
We looked at voter engagement. We looked at how they thought each of the candidates would do in office in relation to the top five issues that that particular voter thought really made a difference. When you put all of that together into an analytic framework after the surveys are done, you know who people are going to vote for: you never asked them. But it wasn’t as threatening to these respondents. So that might be something that you’d want to consider in the future.
There’s downsides to doing it this way: it takes more time to collect that data, and so you’re more limited in terms of what other kinds of things you might be able to ask for. And the analysis is more challenging, but certainly it can be done.
Let me talk to you a little bit about how we communicate with the public. I think we did not do a very good job of communicating during the course of this election cycle. Maybe you did in your election, generally speaking across the country, conservatives did not communicate very effectively.
Think About the Language
I think there are three elements that we have to be thinking about. The narrative that we’re trying to get across, have you thought about the issues and your positions on them in terms of the narrative that you’re communicating to people, and how palatable that is to voters?
And so I’m not, don’t misunderstand me, I am not asking you to deceive, to manipulate, or to compromise. When you do that, you’ve already lost no matter what your vote count is. What I am asking you to do is to think about that value set that I showed you earlier, and think through, how do I communicate what I believe in that kind of a mental context, in that kind of a worldview context, where you’ve got people coming in with Neo-Marxist and modern mystical ideas about how the world works and who they want to be.
And so, the idea here is not to be all inclusive, okay. You want to include people, but not at the risk of losing your own distinctiveness for Christ. You lose that, you shouldn’t be running. Second thing we have to think about is language. And I’ve had the privilege of working with a couple of groups, testing messaging, what kind of words and phrases are best to communicate things.
Some things that we take for granted, it turns out are not true in our cultural context today. The Left have become masters at coopting language. They test this stuff ad nauseum. The Marxist professors, my counterparts and universities across the country are testing this stuff every day of the year for their candidates. We’re not doing that. We just keep going with the same old language that’s ineffective. So we’ve got to rethink it.
You know, there are some terms, for instance, we found that are actually polarizing in America today. Terms like Christian, terms like military, faith, evangelical, Judeo-Christian, we use those terms all the time, and that turns off, a majority of Americans who hear those words.
Alright, friends, quick break, we’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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We’re back here on Wallbuilders Live. Let’s dive right back in and get the conclusion of George Barna’s presentation at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
We’ve got to come up with a new way of communicating. We tested other kinds of phrases. Typically, we’ve been talking about it as religious liberty. Did you know that’s more of a turnoff to people than the term religious freedom?
A very simple turn of words can change your ability to penetrate their consciousness with your message. Did you know that the term rights of conscience is more effective than talking about personal moral choice? Maybe the same kind of thing, but different words communicates more effectively.
Although faith may concern some people, that’s a better term to use them the word religion. Religion is a major negative hot button in our culture today.
So there are a lot of cornerstones of conservatism when we talk about absolute moral truth which might be thought of as objective standards for thought and behavior. That’s a turn off to people. Rule of law, that’s a turn off to Americans. Biblical morality, all of these kinds of phrases sound old and harsh to the typical American ear. So I’m asking you to think about how to communicate. We believe these things. We know that they’re significant, and they’re right, but we can’t necessarily communicate it in that way to this population. So we’ve got to study that.
You know, why is this important? Part of is because if you look at the issues that matter to our people, we do need to speak about these things. This is from the marginals for the study that I’m getting back on Tuesday.
This is from over 5,000 SAGE Cons, their responses compared to the general population survey that we’re running concurrently. So we can compare the two groups. And what we know is that there are different issue sets that each of these groups considered to be the highest priority for America in the next five years.
Think About How To Address Each Group
And so you look at SAGE Cons, and their priorities are the strict enforcement of immigration laws, substantially reducing federal regulations, increasing manufacturing jobs, repealing Roe v. Wade, providing families with more school choices, reducing the federal budget, you won’t find those things on the list of general Americans. Now we want to get our base energized, we want to get them to turn out to vote, we want them to talk with other people about these things. Yeah, we’re going to have to address those issues.
But think about how you address them. Because you cannot address it the same way as you’ll address it to the general public, much less the issues that are of greater interest to the general public.
Things like restoring Social Security and Medicare, implementing racial discrimination laws, federal government providing universal health care insurance, manufacturing jobs, everybody kind of agrees on the importance of that, investing heavily in national infrastructure, reducing personal federal income taxes, that’s a whole different agenda, and it leads to a different place. We can address it, but we’ve got to be clever about how we do that.
Final thing that I want to suggest to you before I wrap it up here has to do with the fact that conservatives across the country are basically fed up with the media. They haven’t known what to do. Up until now they’ve been largely relying on Fox News, television and a few radio personalities to keep them informed. Given how this race was handled, there’s been a massive exodus of conservatives relying on Fox News.
The problem is, well, it’s good, but where do they go? Did they just become isolated and uninformed? So there’s got to be someplace for them to go.
Four years ago, five, six years ago, there started to be a small movement that was creating a new media universe for the conservative population. Problem is it hasn’t gotten very far, like most things in the last four years. And so we’re not much farther along now than we were in 2016.
The New Media Universe
I can tell you that there are some things that seem to be emerging. Among those as we look at the new media universe, for better or worse, I’ll just tell you what we’re finding out of this current research.
Tucker Carlson appears to be emerging as perhaps the spokesman who will take over from Rush Limbaugh for the conservative side of the ledger. Fox News is out. Newsmax TV, interestingly, is growing like wildfire.
It has now actually overtaken in its average nightly viewership ratings. According to Nielsen, it’s now surpassed MSNBC, it’s now surpassed Fox Business channel, and a few others. So it’s growing. It’s part of this new universe, because when you look at its profile, it’s almost all conservatives.
Tony Perkins from Family Research Council, one of the emerging voices of this new media universe, you’ve got some other places there in terms of podcast, online sources. I would encourage you to be part of the development of that. If you’re like me, and you do as many interviews as I do, you get to know who gets it and who doesn’t.
How Worldview Caused 2020 Events, Part 2 – With George Barna
And so you can begin to do things that will support and lift up those people who get it and who can make a positive difference for our community. And so I’m encouraging you to do that.
So I know you got a big legislative agenda you’re concerned about for the coming year, I’d asked for you to put at the top of your legislative agenda how do we push the kingdom of God forward. That is the single most important thing that you can do.
And then the final thing that I want to remind you in the midst of all the agony and heartbreak that I bring you because that is my job, God is in control. So you do your best and let him reveal the results. Thank you.
Alright, friends, that was George Barna you were just listening to when he was speaking at the ProFamily Legislators Conference. You can get more of these programs at our website wallbuilderslive.com. Just go into the archive section, and search through there. There’s a lot of great programming there.
When you find one you really enjoy, share it with your friends and family, be a force multiplier, and in fact, be a force multiplier by hosting a Constitution class, a biblical citizenship class, in your home or at your church.
Go to wallbuilders.com today and get the DVDs and the workbooks. You can join us for free on Monday nights just so you get a taste of what the class is like. Biblicalcitizens.com is the website to sign up for that free Monday night class.
It’s a national class. 25,000 people signed up for the class, and each week we dive into that biblical citizenship class. We’re also there live to take your questions.
Check that out at biblicalcitizens.com. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!