Church of God Responds to Pew Research Article

On November 4, 2016, the Pew Research Center released an article entitled, “The Most and Least Educated U.S. Religious Groups.” The article articulates the percentage of adults in each religious group who completed the following: college degree; some college; high school degree; and less than high school. The report states, “These groups are among the top of a list of 30 U.S. religious groups ranked by educational attainment based on data from our 2014 Religious Landscape Study.”

Following the release of the article, a thorough review demonstrates the listing of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) as the 30th religious group with 11% completing a college degree, 25% some college, 47% high school degree and 17% less than high school. Comparatively, among the total list of religious groups, those completing a college degree ranged from 11% to 77% with an average of 34.1%. Additional comparisons of all groups reveal the following averages: some college 30.6% (COG 25%); high school degree 27.9% (COG 47%); and less than high school 7.9% (COG 17%).

The research was predicated on the 2014 Religious Landscape Study National Telephone Survey conducted June4-September 30, 2014. The sample size was 35,071 adults, including a minimum of 300 interviews in each state and the District of Columbia. Interviews were via telephone, cellphones and landlines in both English and Spanish. Survey topics included the following: religious identity, religious upbringing, religious intermarriage, religious beliefs and practices, social and political values, and demographics. Because of the unusually large national sample size of the survey, it was possible to estimate the religious composition of the U.S. with a high degree of precision demonstrating the margin of error for results at +/-0.6 percentage points. Anyone can review the entire study, results and methodology at www.pewresearch.org.

After a quick review of the presented chart, there may be questions from Church of God constituents asking what does this mean. This is an authentic question and should direct our attention to the value and importance of education in our denomination. First, be sure to place some variables in perspective. While the Church of God appears to be at the bottom of the list with 11% completing a college degree, the Church of God is on the list. The survey addressed many organizations and Pew reported their top thirty religious groups. Compared to the wide spectrum of surveyed religious groups including protestant, evangelicals, liturgical, non-Christian, and atheists, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) is identified as a significant religious group in the U.S. Second, statistically, the Church of God is within five percentage points reporting some college.

One of the key Commitments of the Church of God is education, “We commit ourselves to education as a vital part of all phases of the Spirit-filled Christian life. Education is to be nurtured by the church: locally in rural areas, towns, and cities; regionally in counties, states, and geographical regions; internationally in every country with a Church of God presence; and globally in every continent of the world.” At the recent 76th Church of God International General Assembly convening in Nashville, TN, a significant comprehensive Contemporary Ministerial Development Committee Report was adopted. The report “focuses on the development of a culture of learning to prepare every minister for the challenges and opportunities of ministry by mobilizing every agency and all available resources to invest in perpetual ministerial training.”

Further, at the recent General Assembly, the Executive Committee took a historic step with the inauguration of the Global Education Initiative with the purpose to assimilate Church of God educational assets for an integrated, comprehensive, and cooperative global education system. The goal of the Initiative is networking educational institutions and leaders, leveraging our educational resources and creating a comprehensive global team of educational leaders. It will enhance our educational endeavors globally for the next generation of ministers, leaders and laity.
The Pew Research Center article simply affirms the need for greater educational opportunities in the Church of God and commitment to engage our own perpetual research component accentuating significant decision making to see the realization of the FINISH Commitment.

(Source: Michael L. Baker, Chancellor of Education, Church of God)

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