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June 24th, 2010
12:32 PM ET

Most U.S. evangelical leaders don't drink, survey finds

Sixty percent of evangelical Christian leaders say they don't drink alcohol socially, citing reasons as diverse as the words of St. Paul, the desire to be a good leader and a history of alcoholism in the family, according to a survey by the National Association of Evangelicals released Thursday.

There is no prohibition on drinking alcohol in the Bible, but "as an example to family and those I serve, I like Paul's words, 'It is better not to,'" said Gary Benedict, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, citing Romans 14:21.

Evangelicals played a leading role in the banning of alcohol in the United States during the Prohibition era. "Alcohol and its effects have been a major challenge in American
society," said NAE President Leith Anderson in a statement accompanying the
survey results.

Four out of 10 evangelical leaders said they do drink alcohol socially, but many added comments such as "in moderation," "never in excess," "on special occasions," "occasionally," "rarely" and "infrequently."

Some specifically noted that out of sensitivity to those who might be offended, they drink only with those who share similar views on alcohol consumption, the NAE said.

About 66 percent of American adults drink alcohol, according to 2001-2002 figures from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The findings on church leaders come from the monthly Evangelical Leaders Survey, a poll of the board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations, including missions, universities, publishers and churches.

The survey was sent to all 112 members of the board of directors, the
NAE's Sarah Kropp said. She declined to say how many surveys were returned.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Food

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. MJ

    Look to the Gospels instead. Didn't Jesus turn water into wine? It would seem that he would find moderate use acceptable.

    June 24, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  2. Sgstuck

    Why anyone tries to use politics to enter the private lives of others I will never know. Believe in whatever gods you'd like, but keep it out of OUR government and don't interfere with science and medicine. Likewise, smoke or drink whatever you'd like (hopefully in moderation), but don't put others in danger by drinking and driving, etc.

    Addiction is certainly a problem, but if the right wing truly believes in smaller government then they have no business enlarging the government by forcing their religiously motivated values on others who do them no harm.

    June 24, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  3. donald hearn

    As W.C. Fields said, – " I have no problem with quitting drinking completely,... I've done it hundreds of times"

    June 24, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  4. MJ

    Did Jesus not go to a wedding and turn water into wine??

    June 24, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
  5. meat and drink

    so are they also vegetarians? – the quoted verse says not to eat meat as well – bet they're mainly carnivores!

    religion is a "fat white man" construct to keep other oppressed.

    personal faith is fine; religion = cult

    June 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
    • Dave

      I'm not pushing religion, I'm talking God's Word. Jeremiah 17:9 – personal faith better be based on Truth (John 17:17) and not our own version of Truth

      June 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • j n da gulf

      I second this one.

      June 25, 2010 at 9:35 am |
    • Jason

      @dave who's trurth are you subscribing to? Your pastors version of truth? I think my own truth (theology) is exactly what Jesus wants. I truth (theolgy) that I own and live out is much more real than a truth someone has told to live out.

      July 1, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  6. Dave

    Smoking is obviously not good for you. There are specific instructions and commandments regarding the use of alcohol, but not of smoking. It's not good for you, it's not a good witness or example, but no specific teachings or commandments against smoking. Although God's people are commanded to be a good witness and example...

    June 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  7. Dave

    Depends on what you want to do...God's Word says we can choose to do whatever we want, but there is a consequence for every decision (Eccl 11:9). But, if one wants to truly follow God as He intends – alcohol CANNOT be a part of our life. Study it out (Proverbs 20:1; Habakkuk 2:15; Proverbs 23:29-35). We can follow God's Word as He says or twist & pervert it to say what we want – He lets us decide. What a wonderful God we have! God didn't create alcohol, man corrupted what God made, fruit of the vine. It's no different than anything else that happens when man tries to improve on what God created and intended for man. It's called sin, look it up and study it out (II Timothy 2:15) or get mad and justify – it's our individual choice.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • John

      Thanks. BTW, what about smoking. it is good, or not good.

      June 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
    • MoodyMoody

      And Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).

      June 24, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
    • dnsmith

      Christ himself made wine from water. To condemn alcohol on Christian or biblical grounds is hypocritical. Some people are predisposed to alcoholism and therefore can't drink. Alcohol is not the evil, it is the inability to use it in moderation.

      June 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • Matthew Mcdaniel

      JESUS DRANK!!!!! AND HE EVEN DRANK WITH SINNERS!!! bottom line. And don't explain it away with that ridiculous "it was unfermented" blah blah blah. that's a ridiculous argument and any honest bible scholar will tell you that. as far as using the scriptures in Proverbs to defend prohibition, the same book of the Bible advocates giving strong drink to those who are poor or down on their luck in order to forget their problems. quit being a blind hypocrite.

      July 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • SY

      What do you say when Jesue turned water into to wine at the marriage feast? Do you say man made it or God?

      July 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  8. Paul

    Does the 60% account for those that don't drink but do use crystal meth and hire gay escorts?

    June 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  9. John

    The effect of drinking would be about to same with smoking. Don't they smoke?

    June 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  10. Andy

    The survey validity needs to be reviewed. Perhaps, the respondent answer is solely based on normative.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  11. Sarah

    I choose not to drink mostly because I know my limits, and when I struggle with self-control when it comes to much less addicting things such as sugar, chocolate, snack, etc., I would prefer not to give myself an opportunity to abuse alcohol the way I do other foods since the physical consequences have potential to be very dangerous. I have no moral problem with drinking in moderation - a glass of wine with dinner, a beer at a ball game, etc. I just choose for myself to abstain. If my co-workers go out for drinks after work, I will gladly join them with a glass of coke.

    June 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • Mary D

      Good for you! I made the choice not to drink either. No real reason–I simply don't like it. I've never developed a taste for booze and I know I'd be a total lightweight if I did.

      This is not to say I condemn those who do drink. Nope, I'm totally comfortable with those who drink!

      June 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  12. CM

    More power to them, though I think we'd all be better off if they indulged in the occasional toke... heck, I think they might be surprised at how easy it is to talk to God afterwards, hehe.

    June 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  13. duffey

    Since when do these preachers tell us the truth about themsleves. Lets go back to a Denver hotel room

    June 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  14. Reality1

    Based on the following headlines, should one conclude that Mr.Benedict needs a drink??

    CHRISTIAN & MISSIONARY ALLIANCE
    NAMED IN CONSPIRACY
    TO DEFRAUD CHINESE CONGREGATION
    OF $650,000 CHURCH PROPERTY
    AND APPROXIMATELY $18,000 IN BANK ACCOUNTS

    June 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  15. karek40

    Jesus came that I might have life and that I might have life more abundently. I have the freedom to drink, if my drinking causes harm to others or leads others astray then I choose not to drink. I hope the 60% who do not drink feel the same freedom that I do.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  16. Selfish Gene

    I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member

    June 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  17. neinka lando

    the purpose of any religion is to teach people about our heavenly father, to teach love compassion equality; the value of the human unite or to think only as a collectivist. Not how to amass wealth for only the individual. Every school on earth teaches getting there in time and only as a whole human unite. But ours teaches how to get there very fast as an individual and very high; and then all the schools and churches here have the unfathomable audacity to actually be discontent with the results that their own beliefs and ways of life are responsible for. If anyone ever tells you this is untrue then it should be obvious to you just where all their beliefs and true loves lie.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  18. IKanThink

    I agree; alchohol is universally accepted while it is the source of so many social ills and suffering (especially by children -as a teacher I see how much they go through); it is marketed to all, available and destructive. Meanwhile, the possible medicinal benefits of other drugs are ignored and blocked outright. Use logic.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  19. Grondahl

    I assume the forty percent that responded in the affirmative are Lutheran. Frankly, I wouldn't trust a Lutheran preacher who DIDN'T drink socially.

    And URNUTS...wrong message board. Prohibition/Pro-Marijuana are to your left.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • ABerdaine

      True dat!

      June 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  20. URNUTS

    Alcohol is worse than marijuana everyday of the year! I spent most of my teenage years in Aliteen then as an adult in Alanon, alcohol ripped my family apart. My mother was killed when I was only 21 months old, and my father left to raise 4 kids by himself drank even more. Our lives touched negatively in everyway by this drug that is even more lethal then the ones we ban. If you want to save famiies get rid of Alcohol completely. The kids born to these alcoholics do not choose to be brought into this world or raised by them, it is not fair to those children. Weed will never place anyone in the drunken state of non control that alcohol does....never!

    June 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • Moderate imbiber

      "alcohol ripped my family apart"

      You know what? No. Absolutely, completely, and utterly false. Alcohol did nothing of the sort. The people in your family that abused alcohol ripped your family apart. Blame them. That's the same as a family suffering from physical abuse saying "paddles and switches ripped my family apart"; instead of blaming the abuser, you are blaming the object of abuse. Put the blame where it belongs. Millions of people are able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage without abusing anyone, including themselves.

      June 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • Nathan

      My father too was left with 4 children to raise when my mother died. Its a bad situation made much worse by alcohol abuse. Anyone that tries to say its not alcohol's fault is completely ignorant of what its like to become an addict.

      I had a problem and quit. I've stayed away only through the knowledge that we never struggle alone, we are always struggling with God.

      Sure, anti religious people will not believe, but who cares. I know what I experienced. I spent years trying to quit, and was only able to when I accepted God into my life. For those that don't know what its like, for an alcoholic discipline is irrelevant. You can't simply "moderate" your drinking. Even if you only have one drink, for the next week all you will be thinking about is that drink. It will eat at you until you quench that thirst.

      June 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.