A survey of Presbyterian Church USA members, pastors, and leaders shows that there’s a surprising disconnect between those on the chancel and those in the pews.  This chart reflects the political affiliations of church members (Republicans are blue, Democrats green):

Political Affiliation of PCUSA Members

The political views of the pastors are quite different:

Political Affiliation of PCUSA Pastors

And the views of church leaders are more divergent still:

Political Affiliation of PCUSA Leaders

This is not unusual for mainline denominations. Alan F. H. Wisdom summarizes:

There are huge gaps in political affiliation between clergy and laity, especially in the oldline Protestant denominations. The divide between oldline and evangelical Protestant leaders remains exceedingly wide. The much publicized evangelical left, purporting to bridge that divide with a fusion of evangelical theology and liberal politics, remains statistically insignificant.

It is little wonder that debilitating conflicts have wracked the oldline denominations, contributing to the loss of one-third of their membership over the past 45 years. Oldline church bodies typically depend upon the cooperative endeavors of clergy and lay leadership. But those two leadership groups are pointed in different directions politically and ideologically.

I don’t think that this divergence is responsible for mainline churches’ declines in membership. That has deeper roots. But it is striking, and pastors and other leaders need to be aware of it.

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