48% of evangelical leaders say they are blacklisted because of their beliefs

Cancel Culture
Unsplash/Markus Winkler

Nearly half of evangelical leaders said in a new survey that they had been disinvited, blacklisted or excluded because of their views or “guilt by association”, according to the National Association of Evangelicals.

July/August NAEs Survey of Evangelical Leaders found that 48% of evangelical leaders said they were “cancelled” by others “to express disapproval of the leader or the leader’s point of view.”

The findings are part of a monthly survey of the NAE’s board of directors, which includes denominational CEOs and representatives from various evangelical organizations, such as missions, universities, publishers and churches.

“Cancel culture is the practice of excluding any person, organization, or work as a means of expressing disapproval,” NAE President Walter Kim explained.

“While it is important to be clear about unacceptable behaviors and unorthodox positions, this phenomenon makes it difficult to have a meaningful, vulnerable and open dialogue about the real challenges we face,” he said.

Some leaders said evangelical leadership should expect to be canceled as it has become commonplace.

However, “the reality of the culture of cancellation can make leaders reluctant to communicate their positions on complex issues for fear of reprisals”, fears the association.

Last month, Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, said Facebook had removed a paid ad for his “Woke or Awake” sermon.

“Well, I got canceled this week,” Young said, according to Church leaders. “Our Facebook friends just canceled me. Our amazing media team put these ads up and we ran them. And, for some reason, Mark Zuckerberg and his friends didn’t like them.”

Many evangelical leaders believe that being open and willing to have respectful conversations might be the way to engage.

“It is my policy to welcome feedback and open the door to discussion. People disagreed with the statements I made and contacted me to share their concerns,” a said Ron Hamilton, conference minister at the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.

Those who said they weren’t canceled also noted that they may have been unknowingly rejected or not invited because of their beliefs or commitment.

“Not to my knowledge! I don’t know if my opinions were the reason I wasn’t invited to speak in the first place,” said Rich Nathan, founding pastor of Vineyard Columbus.

Some leaders said “guilt by association” was also grounds for cancellation.

“I was the keynote speaker at an annual event (for about nine years) at a major Christian college. Although my ministry has remained consistent — and my opinions haven’t changed at all — my relationship with people outside of their doctrinal characteristics has caused me to disinvite,” said Daniel Henderson, president of Strategic Renewal.

Kim said that while individuals and organizations should be held accountable for their actions, people should not be punished for holding beliefs that may differ. “We need to encourage conversations across differences. Let’s open our doors and ask those who have differences to come to the table. After all, that was Jesus’ way,” he concluded.

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Barry F. Howard