Barna Research shows perspective of American Public and who’s responsible for meaningful change

Responsible for Change Chart
  • Does a Divided Public Look to Pastors for Guidance?
  • Who do Americans believe is responsible for creating meaningful change in our country?
  • U.S. Adults Largely Point to the Government to Make Things Right
    • None religious say National Gov. by 52%
    • Practicing Christians say National Gov. by 49%
    • Also Practicing Christians say the Church by 48%
  • When thinking specifically about who can enact change, Americans are most likely to say this is up to individuals (48%)
  • In fact, the majority of U.S. adults (70%) says yes, Christian pastors are still seen—either somewhat or entirely—as a good resource to consult when thinking about the topics that matter most to them.
  • Political division is one of the main reasons pastors say they’ve considered quitting ministry in the past year. Learn more here.
  • One in five U.S. adults says the 2020 election had a negative impact on a close relationship.
  • While pastors have named political division as a main stressor over the past year—even leading some pastors to consider quitting full-time ministry—those in the pews are looking to their church leaders right now, not only to help them learn how to better dialogue about political issues, but also to advocate for those same issues to elected officials.

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Mexico swinging against the establishment as presidential campaign starts

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is pictured during the 80th anniversary of the expropriation of Mexico's oil industry in Mexico City, Mexico March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

By Frank Jack Daniel

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexicans tired of graft and chaotic violence look set to reject the party that has governed the country for most of the past century, embracing a global anti-establishment mood by favoring a leftist dissenter in a presidential election.

Campaigning formally starts on Friday for the July 1 election and major opinion polls show Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with a large lead, with the mainstream opposition challenger second and the ruling party candidate far behind.

Mexico suffered its worst murder toll on record last year as organized crime ran rampant smuggling drugs, fuel and people, while corruption scandals battered the credibility of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Those issues rather than the economy are topping Mexicans’ concerns going into the campaign, but the outcome could mark a shift away from decades of gradual economic liberalization.

While Lopez Obrador now embraces the North American Free Trade Agreement and has softened his opposition to existing private investment in the energy sector, he has flagged a more cautious approach to further opening up the economy.

His popularity has been fanned by U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough policies on trade and immigration and insults that have angered Mexicans. His government could seek to row back bilateral cooperation that has gathered pace under Pena Nieto.

“The people want a change, that’s why our adversaries are getting really nervous,” Lopez Obrador said last week.

The centrist PRI has ruled Mexico continuously since 1929, except for a 12-year break when Vicente Fox and his successor led the National Action Party (PAN) to power in 2000 and 2006.

Both the PAN and the PRI favored opening the economy to more foreign investment and close ties with the United States.


Variously described as a left-winger, a populist and a nationalist, Lopez Obrador quit the PRI in the 1980s and his subsequent political career included a stint as mayor of Mexico City, one of the world’s largest metropolises. He has been in permanent opposition since first running for president in 2006.

He says only he can clean up deep-rooted corruption in the traditional parties. At the same time, he promises to change the constitution if he wins to end immunity for sitting presidents and hold regular referendums on key issues, including one every two years on whether he should continue his six-year term.

“We Mexicans are now seeing there are definitely two alternatives before us,” Tatiana Clouthier, a senior member of the Lopez Obrador campaign said on Thursday: more of the same, or a government that will spread the wealth more widely.

In second place is former PAN chief Ricardo Anaya, whose coalition includes center-left parties once allied to Lopez Obrador. He has pitched himself as a modern alternative to the unpopular PRI and to Lopez Obrador’s personalized leadership.

For many voters, July 1 will be about rejecting either the corruption of the ruling party, or Lopez Obrador, said Ernesto Ruffo, a PAN senator who in 1989 became the first politician to wrest control of a state government from the PRI.

“This is an election not for, but against,” he said.

Only Anaya, said Ruffo, offered a vision of the future.

The campaign of PRI candidate Jose Antonio Meade, who is not a member of the PRI, admits political parties are deeply mistrusted but says Meade is best placed to capture the mood.

Meade says Lopez Obrador’s jabs at the private sector, much of which the 64-year-old has excoriated as corrupt, will damage investment sentiment.

“When there’s investment there are jobs,” Meade told Mexican radio on Thursday. “When there are jobs we fight poverty.”

(Additional reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Dave Graham and Paul Tait)

Generation born under Putin finds its voice in Russian protests

FILE PHOTO: Riot police officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Moscow, Russia March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

By Denis Pinchuk and Svetlana Reiter

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Protests across Russia on Sunday marked the coming of age of a new adversary for the Kremlin: a generation of young people driven not by the need for stability that preoccupies their parents but by a yearning for change.

Thousands of people took to the streets across Russia, with hundreds arrested. Many were teenagers who cannot remember a time before Vladimir Putin took power 17 years ago.

“I’ve lived all my life under Putin,” said Matvei, a 17-year-old from Moscow, who said he came close to being detained at the protest on Sunday, but managed to run from the police.

“We need to move forward, not constantly refer to the past.”

A year before Putin is expected to seek a fourth term, the protests were the biggest since the last presidential election in 2012.

The driving force behind the protests was Alexei Navalny, a 40-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who uses the Internet to spread his message, bypassing the state-controlled television stations where nearly all older Russians get their news.

“None of my peers watches television and they don’t trust it,” said Maxim, an 18-year-old from St Petersburg who took part in a protest there.

He said messages about the demonstration were shared among his friends via a group chat on a messaging app: “Half the group went to the demonstration.”

Navalny, who was arrested at one of Sunday’s protests, tailors his message for YouTube and VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

One of his recent videos, a 50 minute expose accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of secretly owning an archipelago of luxury homes, has been watched more than 14 million times on YouTube. Medvedev’s spokeswoman called the allegations “propagandistic attacks” unworthy of detailed comment and said they amounted to pre-election posturing by Navalny.

While older Russians may have turned a blind eye to official corruption during years when living standards improved, younger Russians speak of it in terms of moral outrage.

“Why do I believe that what is happening right now is wrong? Because when I was little, my mum read fairy tales to me, and they said you should not steal, you should not lie, you should not kill,” said Katya, a 17-year-old who was at the protest in Moscow. “What I see happening now, you should not do,” she said.

Like other students who spoke to Reuters at the demonstrations, Katya, Maxim and Matvei asked that their surnames not be published to avoid repercussions.


Young people actively seeking change represent a new challenge for the Kremlin. It has built and maintained support for Putin for years by focusing mainly on ensuring stability, which Russians sought after the chaos of the immediate post-Soviet years.

Putin came to power after the 1990s, when the Soviet Union disintegrated and millions found themselves destitute. But young people who do not remember those times have different priorities than those even a few years older, said Yekaterina Schulmann, a political analyst.

“Our political regime is fixated on what it calls stability, that is a lack of change,” she said. “The political machine believes the best offer it can make to society is ‘Let’s keep everything the way it is for as long as possible’.”

“Young people need a model of the future, clear prospects, rules of the game which they recognize as fair, and … a social leg-up. Not only do they not see any of that, no one is even talking about it,” said Schulmann.

According to user data compiled from a social media page for people who said they planned to attend Sunday’s protest in St Petersburg, more than one in six were aged under 21.

It is still too early to say whether the new phenomenon will emerge as a serious challenge to Putin’s rule. It could be a burst of youthful idealism that fizzles out.

In any case, opinion polls show that Putin will win comfortably if, as most people expect, he runs for president next year.

His most serious rival for the presidency, Navalny, trails far behind in polls and could be barred from running because of an old criminal conviction which he says is political.

Still, the involvement of so many young people has forced the Russian authorities to pay attention.

A Kremlin spokesman said youngsters had been offered money by protest organizers to show up. The Kremlin offered no evidence to support this allegation, and none of the young people who spoke to Reuters said they had been offered payment.

Several students said school and university authorities had warned them before the protests they could be punished for taking part.

Pavel, a 20-year-old studying to be a veterinarian who attended a protest in Moscow, said it was worth it to risk some of Russia’s stability in the hope of change.

“Yes, maybe it will be negative; yes, maybe there won’t be the stability that we have now. But for a person in the 21st century it’s shameful to live in the kind of stability we have now.”

(Additional reporting by Natalia Shurmina in Yekaterinburg, Russia; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Peter Graff)