Survey: While Aleppo and Mosul Burn, American Christians Less Likely to Pray for, Help Refugees than a Year Ago

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Amy Parodi
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Syrian refugee, little boy
Syrian refugee, little boy

SEATTLE (December 7, 2016) — Americans are now less willing to respond to the needs of refugees affected by the conflict than they were a year ago, according to the findings of World Vision’s second annual survey on Americans’ willingness to help refugees, particularly those affected by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Key findings include:

  • In 2016, 33 percent of Americans say that they had taken action for refugees in the past two years, a four percent drop from 2015.
  • In 2016, 64 percent of Americans say they are willing to act on behalf of refugees, a seven percent drop from 2015.
  • The actions that are most mentioned as being taken in the 2016 survey include:
    • to “pray for refugees and the conflict in Syria” (14 percent, down eight percent from 2015)
    • to “share or like content on social media” (14 percent, up two percent from 2015)
    • to make a financial donation (11 percent, up two percent from 2015)

The survey also asks whether respondents identify themselves as committed Christians. Among their responses:

  • In 2016, 38 percent of committed Christians say that they had taken action for refugees in the past two years, a 6 percent drop from 2015.
  • In 2016, 70 percent of committed Christians say that they are willing to act on behalf of refugees, a 6 percent drop from 2015.
  • In 2015, about half of committed Christians (51 percent) said they were willing to pray for refugees, and fewer than half actually had (30 percent). In 2016, these numbers drop. Only 41 percent say that they are willing to pray for refugees, versus only 19 percent of committed Christians have actually prayed for them.
  • The percentage of Christians who gave financially to help refugees has increased by 1 percent, though this is only 3 percent more than the percentage of non-Christians who gave in 2016 (12 percent and 9 percent, respectively).

“It’s disappointing to see America’s heart closing to refugees. This is not the compassionate and generous nation I know we truly are,” said Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. “And it’s shocking that Christians, who are held to a higher standard by our Lord, are praying even less for refugees.”

This survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs from September 8 -12, 2016, on behalf of World Vision. For the survey, a sample of 1,096 U.S. adults over the age of 18 was interviewed online, in English, including 625 respondents who consider themselves committed Christians. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.

Highlights

  • The percentage of Christians who say that they are willing to pray for refugees has dropped 11 percent from last year
  • The percentage of Americans who have taken action to help refugees has dropped four percent from last year
  • Christians only slightly more likely than non-Christians to give, volunteer or advocate for Syrian refugees