Friday, August 21, 2009

Clergy Poll: Getting What You Pay For?

I read the news today, oh boy! It was an article about clergy opinions on gay issues.

A poll by Public Religion Research has some startling and disheartening results about an apparent slide of Presbyterian clergy belief—basically a rush away from God’s will as revealed in Scripture toward the views of a godless society on its way to destruction. Sad.

However, I find it important, when reading news, to consider the source of the news as well as the content. Thus, it is interesting to note how clearly the poll represents the viewpoints of both the research organization and the foundation funding the poll. Neither party could be considered a disinterested bystander in the issue of homosexual advocacy.
  • Public Religion Research appears to be a boldly progressive group, advocating for gay causes in particular. Its website and blog leave no doubt about its politically and theologically liberal/progressive stance and advocacy. The president and founder, Robert P. Jones, is also a fellow in a progressive think tank. Unless Public Religion Research found a way to be totally scrupulous in its polling research procedure, it would not be difficult for testing bias to seep through in its research results.
  • The Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, which bankrolled the poll, makes grants for millions of dollars to gay-advocacy groups each year, including approximately $6.5 million in 2008! This is the foundation that flooded $1.2 million into political activist groups such as More Light Presbyterians, allowing it to add staff to lobby the PCUSA to lower its sexual standards. (Note that MLP is now advertising to add two staff members—staffing probably made possible in part by the Haas Fund windfall.)

How coincidental that the results the poll obtained would be so useful for the known advocacy of the pollsters, the funders, and the sexual revisionists they support!

For possibly less biased polling, I would suggest the Presbyterian Panel’s 2008 snapshot of Presbyterians. The final page shows gay-ordination opinions. The 2005 snapshot also lists opinions on gay unions and marriages.

If the Haas-PRR poll is indeed accurate, it documents a disgraceful clergy abandonment of biblical morality, a selling out to the Baal of our times. If, on the other hand, the poll turns out to be tainted by testing bias, it will amount to nothing more than a propaganda tool to be used to sway popular opinion away from biblical truth. Either reality is less than propitious.

11 Comments:

Blogger Viola Larson said...

Thanks for doing the hard research Jim.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

1:41 AM, August 22, 2009  
Blogger Dave Moody said...

if wishes were fishes, we'd all be progressives... or something like that.

I echo Vi's thanks, Jim.

Dave Moody
S. IL

10:39 AM, August 22, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Viola Larson, on her blog (http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2009/08/truth-history-and-some-stories-about.html), recently said the following:

“What a sorry half story, and because of that a false story. Truly what sinners we all are.”

I liked that statement a lot, and decided I would take the opportunity to use it whenever I thought it applied, like here for instance.

Prominently located up front In the Acknowledgements section of the study (http://www.publicreligion.org/objects/uploads/fck/file/CVS%20Theology%20and%20LGBT.pdf) we find the following statement:

“The authors thank Dr. John Green, Director of the Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron, for his role as advisor to this project and for his considerable work supervising data collection.“

I wonder why Jim Berkley fails to mention anything about Dr. Green in his blog article. Is it possibly because it goes against the grain of his Progressive Bashing, or maybe he feels that Dr. Green’s contributions are insignificant, or maybe he feels that the authors of the study might have manipulated the data after it was collected. Jim doesn’t seem certain whether or not the study results are valid. If only Dr. Green would give some kind of endorsement of the study…

In the press release (http://www.publicreligion.org/objects/uploads/fck/file/Clergy%20Report/CVS%20LGBT%20release%2005-20-09.pdf) from Public Religion Research concerning this study, we find the following comment from Dr. Green:

“This survey adds significantly to the body of research on Mainline clergy attitudes toward sexuality,” said John Green, Director of the Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron, who helped oversee the data collection for the study. “It will be an invaluable resource to scholars, denominational leaders, public officials, and individuals engaged in discussions of sexuality in churches and in the public arena.”

So who is this Dr. Green fellow anyway?

Dr. Green’s bio at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=83), in part, says the following:

“John C. Green is a senior researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, specializing in religion and American politics, American evangelicals and politics, the Christian right, religion and elections, and religion and presidential politics. He also serves as director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Akron.
John has done extensive research on American religious communities and politics. Before joining the Pew Forum, he enjoyed a long association with it and other projects supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Since 1990, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported his widely cited surveys, conducted in presidential election years, on the political fault lines running through America's religious landscape. “

It appears to me that Jim Berkley has told a “sorry half story”, and therefore “a false story”. It also appears to me that Mr. Berkley, by his omission, and implication may be calling Dr. Green insignificant, incompetent, or a whore. I’m not sure which, but in any event, I’m sure Dr. Green wouldn’t care for it one bit.

Kattie,
Huntsville, Al

9:47 AM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...

Katty,

You are being catty.

Take a deep breath, stifle the urge simply to counter everything I write, and reread what I wrote. Throughout, I made it clear that it is possible that the poll was well designed and delivers accurate results. I also make it clear, however, that I am skeptical of the results, since they appear to be so useful to the polling organization and the organization that paid for the poll--and since they are different from other research.

I give two possibilities: one is that the polling process was skewed in some manner, fortuitously obtaining the results the pollsters and funders wanted. The other possibility is that the results are true and accurate, which means that clergy opinion is abandoning biblical morality, a sad situation.

And please, stop the wild accusations of my calling someone a whore. How uncalled for! I really do think you are capable of attenuating your urges simply to lash out with hyperbolic and inappropriate language toward those with whom you disagree. Take a time-out!

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

11:36 AM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Ah, thanks for clarifying that. (Sarcasm off)

You said:
"I also make it clear, however, that I am skeptical of the results, since they appear to be so useful to the polling organization and the organization that paid for the poll--and since they are different from other research."

It appears you are calling Dr. Green, the polling expert, either insignificant (you don't mention him at all), incompetent (he was, after all, heavily involved), or a whore (he may have reported what he was paid to report and for no other reason).

It would be appropriate to call someone a whore if they were paid as a professional to produce, on behalf of their client, a position purely based upon the desire of the client and nothing else. I didn't know if you considered Dr. Green's endorsement of the study to be such or not. I thought I made that perfectly clear, if not, I'm sorry, but if so please retract your accusation.

So, what about Dr. Green’s contribution? Why doesn't an argument based on his involvement count for more than your flimsy (at best) argument?

“You are being catty.”

No, I’m just pointing out a “sorry half story” in the same manner as Viola Larson did. Are we both catty?

Kattie,
Huntsville, Al

1:31 PM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...

Katty,

I don't know your Dr. Green from Adam. Never met him. Never heard of him. It's really immaterial, since I don't know how deeply involved he was with the whole study--Advised? Did the whole thing for the other group? Lent his name to the enterprise? Did a favor for a friend and commended the study (with pretty much boilerplate language)? I'm not talking about him at all.

I was simply pointing out some relationships and some potential conflicts of interests for both the polling organization and the funding organization. That WAS the story.

If I didn't cover something you wanted covered, so be it. You can write about it. But I was not telling only part of the story or pulling the wool over anyone's eyes, as you seem to insist.

Now, I have given about all the time to this little conversation that I care to give. Give it a rest.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

2:12 PM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

"Never heard of him"

Yep, that's why Viola Larson’s thanks and Dave Moody's concurrence prompted me to interject.

You should have heard of him, considering his name was prominent in the study report and his endorsement is in the Press Release.

You didn't do the "hard research".

All you wanted to do is make disparaging remarks about Progressives and progressive organizations.

By the way; I seem to recall Dr. Robert Gagnon getting very hot under the collar when someone referred to something he wrote as "enough to gag on". He believed it was an inappropriate play on his name.

In the future, please bare that in mind.

Kattie,
Huntsville, Al

2:28 PM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...

"BARE that in mind..."?

Noted.

Sigh.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

2:42 PM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Just couldn't resist that little dig could you. That’s the kind of thing I would expect of a 14 year old brat not an ordained Minister.

You convict yourself of your sins pretty well.

Viola once commented on what a thorough researcher she believed you to be. I guess we showed her, huh?

Thanks for the discussion and the opportunity.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

6:55 PM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...

Kattie,

Think nothing of it. The pleasure is yours.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

6:59 PM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Pleasure!!??

That shows how little you know.

Kattie,
Huntsville, Al

5:10 AM, September 01, 2009  

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