Barna Update – 3/29/16
The Barna group just put out another piece about the presidential election, this time with the help of George Barna, who founded the group and created its definition of “evangelical.” He is forthright in differentiating his definition from the usual one: “we look at a more accurately defined evangelical population—not the self-defined evangelicals used by media outlets.”
His claim of superior accuracy is based on his assumption that he knows the true definition, unlike the media. He also assumes the great majority of self-proclaimed evangelicals either do not understand what an evangelical is or are misrepresenting themselves to claim membership in such a godly group. In any case, both he and Mr. Kinnaman, the current head of the Barna Group, once again fail to mention the size of this "true" evangelical group, and that it excludes 80% of self-defined evangelicals.
Recall that a prior study showed that “true” evangelicals preferred Ted Cruz for president, unlike self-defined evangelicals who preferred Donald Trump. We now learn that almost 80% of Barna’s evangelicals believe this election is “extremely important to the future of the United States,” much more than any other group. But despite the perceived importance of the election, only 20% of true evangelicals are “very closely” following the election, much less than others. Barna believes this is because they distrust media: “Evangelicals have had a long-running feud with the media, believing they consistently (and intentionally) provide inaccurate and inadequate reporting of what is really happening in the world, including election-related events and information. Barna finds that just 5 percent of evangelicals believe the media is providing fair and objective coverage of the campaign.” Barna evangelicals are far more likely to distrust the media than any other group:
Barna offers no justification for their view, but it's safe to say that his evangelicals are even more dismissive of fact-checking organizations. They simply assume they and their chosen leaders know the Truth. They believe the media are part of a great conspiracy to deceive the public. This is part of the paranoia we saw earlier (bait and switch evangelicals). They rely on faith, and have contempt for facts that conflict with it. Barna generally avoids questions which assess respondents’ knowledge rather than their opinion, but I assume that his evangelicals dismiss evolution by natural selection, and spend millions on museums that show our ancestors cavorting with the dinosaurs. They are paranoid, willfully ignorant, and dismissive of evidence. They believe they are doing God’s will. They see themselves as Christian warriors and love the idea of crusades.