Thank you! As soon as I started reading the actual questions posed to the sample I immediately got into Bill Clinton mode and thought to myself “well that’ll depend on what your definition of ‘could’ is.”
If you believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent creator, of course mental illness **could be cured through prayer alone. In fact, anything could be cured! But the Devil is in the details, and I’m sure the nuance to this wasn’t lost on these Evangelical participants. I most firmly believe that should I get cancer God could cure me of it instantaneously through nothing more than prayer (Hell! He could do it even without me praying!), but you could bet your sweet patootie that such wouldn’t preclude me from consulting an oncologist and immediately undergoing some form of treatment.
To give the researchers the benefit of the doubt, I clicked the link to their site and read their own synopsis of the poll (which was about as scant on details as the original news post), in hopes of finding an exhaustive list of every question asked of the participants. All they bothered to publish online were those same two ambiguously worded questions.
That said, I think its a leap for people to take away from this study that half of evangelicals discourage people from seeking medical treatment for mental illness. So, I don’t think this shows “ignorance” on the part of evangelicals but “ignorance” on the part of the people who created and are interpreting this survey.
In fact, if you break the results down:
5% not sure
I think the bigger story in this survey is that 47% of evangelicals DON"T believe that God could through prayer and devotion cure mental illness ALONE. That’s the real surprise to me. But as several of us have already said, this survey was poorly designed, so I’m not sure how reliable its results are either way.
To be fair, it seems to me that the American people as a whole were used as a control and the Evangelical American population were the target, and so relative to their non-Evangelical counterparts, Evangelicals were indeed significantly more likely (sample n=1001, SD=+ or - 3) to say that it “could” be done. The question then becomes, even with the flawed question, what the average American would understand the question to mean. I would suspect that most individuals polled (both Evangelical and non-Evangelical alike) interpreted the question just as the researchers did: could it be done, with an implicit suggestion that it typically occurs.
Nevertheless, I find their second finding far more descriptive, and something all Christian churches ought to seek after:
[quote=LifeWay]Fifty-four percent of Americans say churches should do more to prevent suicide. That number jumps to 64 percent among evangelical, fundamentalist or born-again Christians.
Americans who never attend church services are the least likely to agree that churches welcome those with mental illness. Those who attend weekly see churches as welcoming.