Last week, we asked Blaze readers, "Have you ever been hurt by your church?" The question, though far from simplistic and certainly multifaceted, offered people the opportunity to provide honest assessments regarding how they've been impacted by their faith leaders and houses of worship. Overall, we received more than 29,000 answers to 13 questions surrounding this complex subject.
The results of the poll, based on Lifetree Cafe's examination of the issue, were intriguing. Among the more than 2,600 people who participated, 97 percent claim that they are Christians (this is consistent with past Blaze polling that found the same).
Overall, a majority -- 58 percent -- report that they have, indeed, had their feelings hurt by a faith leader in their church (42 percent say that this has not happened). Perhaps more startling, 44 percent of respondents say that having their feelings hurt by a faith leader has, at some point, led to them leave a church; 56 percent claim that they have not abandoned a house of worship as a result of having their feelings hurt by a pastor or church leader.
When it comes to examining this issue, it's common for faith leaders to take the brunt of the blame for church conflict. But it's entirely possible that congregants have experienced negative interactions with fellow church members, while fully enjoying their experiences with worship leaders. When asked, "Have fellow parishioners ever hurt your feelings?," a majority -- 64 percent -- answered "yes," with only 36 percent claiming that they have not experienced this.
Interestingly, when asked if respondents, themselves, have ever hurt the feelings of fellow parishioners or faith leaders, only 33 percent reported that they have. On the flip side, 77 percent claim that they have not been guilty of such an offense. While it is important to note that fewer people (just under 2,000) answered this question, there does seem to be somewhat of a disconnect.
Among those who answered whether they left their faith as a result of being hurt by their church -- a much more extreme action than simply leaving a church -- 78 percent reported that they have not, with 22 percent saying that such pain did cause them to leave their faith.
In other interesting findings, 47 percent of respondents claim that church conflict and disunity have impacted their willingness to commit to a church. Additionally, 41 percent say that they have left a church as a result of mismanagement or corruption.
All images credited to Shutterstock.com.