Nearly half of Evangelical leaders said in a new survey that they had been disinvited, blocked, or excluded because of their point of view or “guilt by association,” according to the National Association of Evangelicals.
The NAE’s July/August Evangelical Leaders Survey revealed that 48% of Evangelical leaders said they have been “canceled” by others “to express their disapproval for the leader or the leader’s point of view.”
The findings are part of a monthly poll of the NAE’s Board of Directors, which includes the CEOs of denominations and representatives of diverse Evangelical organizations, such as missions, universities, publishers, and churches.
“Cancel culture is the practice of excluding any person, organization, or work to express disapproval,” NAE President Walter Kim explained.
“While it is important to be clear about unacceptable behavior 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 the Evangelical leadership should expect to be canceled because it has become commonplace.
However, “the reality of cancel culture can make leaders wary of communicating their positions on complex issues for fear of retribution,” the association fears.
Last month, Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, said Facebook removed a paid ad for his sermon “Woke or Awake.”
“Well, I got canceled this week,” Young said, according to Church Leaders. “Our friends on Facebook just canceled me. Our incredible media team put together these ads, and we showed these ads. And, for some reason, Mark Zuckerberg and his friends didn’t dig them.”
Many Evangelical leaders think being open and willing for respectful conversations could be the way to engage.
“I have made it a policy to welcome comments and open the door to discussion. People have disagreed with statements that I have made and contacted me to share their concerns,” Ron Hamilton, conference minister at Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, was quoted as saying.
Those who said they had not been canceled noted that they might have been unknowingly rejected or not invited due to their beliefs or engagement.
“Not to my knowledge! I have no idea whether my views were why I was not invited to speak in the first place,” Rich Nathan, founding pastor of Vineyard Columbus, was quoted as saying.
Some leaders said “guilt by association” was a basis for cancellation.
“I served as the primary speaker for an annual event (for about nine years) at a major Christian university. Although my ministry remained consistent — and my views had not changed — my relationship with people outside their doctrinal distinct caused me to be disinvited,” Daniel Henderson, president of Strategic Renewal, was quoted as saying.
Kim said while individuals and organizations need to be held accountable for their actions, people should not be punished for having beliefs that may be different. “We need to encourage conversations across differences. Let us open our doors and ask those with differences to sit at the table. After all, that was the way of Jesus,” he concluded.