Poll Measures God’s Approval Rating

I am a self-confessed talk radio junkie. I listen to talk radio 95% of the time I am in the car. My oldest daughter has even asked my wife why daddy always listens to people talking on the radio instead of music. I prefer local talk radio shows over the nationally-syndicated types, and I am an equal-opportunity listener to both news/politics and sports talk radio. Typically on my drive in to work each day, I listen to a local DFW talk radio show, and I get my fill of news, politics, and job approval ratings. By the time I read something online or in the paper, I’ve already heard about it on the radio. However, I came across something new yesterday that I had never seen—God’s job approval rating.

Yes, the North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling conducted a poll[1] to measure, among other things, God’s approval rating. Some of the questions included, “If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its performance? If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its handling of natural disasters? If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its handling of animals? If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its handling of creating the universe?”

What makes this poll even more interesting is that it was conducted as part of a national congressional poll. Therefore, we are able to see how God stacks up against leaders in the national government. God’s overall job approval was 52% approve, 9% disapprove (40% not sure). Compared to John Boehner (33% approve, 37% disapprove), Congressional Democrats (33% approve, 54% disapprove), and Congressional Republicans (33% approve, 55% disapprove), God fared pretty well in the poll. God’s highest rating came with a 71% approval of his handling of creating the universe. He even got a 50% approval rating (13% disapprove and 37% unsure) on natural disasters. In what is perhaps the most ridiculous statement of the entire poll, the authors of the polling results state, “Though not the most popular figure PPP has polled, if God exists, voters are prepared to give it good marks.”

It makes you wonder what possessed Public Policy Polling to include questions about God in its congressional poll. It is certainly interesting that God performed much better than our government officials (and Rupert Murdoch, who was also included in the poll), but what does a poll like this tell us?

First, we have to understand that God is not up for re-election. As Creator of the universe, God exercises sovereign rule over all aspects of creation (land, sea, animals, mankind, and the affairs of man). In Isaiah 40:21–26, the prophet writes:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.

God is firmly in place as ruler of the universe. Though we may think he is absent at times, he is not. Though we may think he is silent at times, he still speaks. One of my favorite book titles (and favorite books) is Francis Scaheffer’s He Is There and He Is Not Silent. This is so true about God no matter what some polling firm states. Our failure to recognize God at work is not his fault—it is ours.

Second, we have to recognize that it is not our place to judge God. Who are we to approve or disapprove of God’s job performance? Job learned this lesson the hard way when God confronted him. In Job 38:1–11, we read:

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop’?”

After God continued to question Job, we see Job’s humble response to God in Job 42:2–6,

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.

Just like Job, we have no standing to judge God or give our approval (or disapproval) to his job performance. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa 55:9). When we declare that we know how God could have done something better, or we give our disapproval of his performance, we naïvely declare that we know more than God. What an act of hubris!

Consider these things before answering the phone for a political poll (which for some reason call our house on a regular basis). We do not judge God because he is perfect and we are far from it. So what are we to think about this poll? I believe Dino Grandoni from the Atlantic Wire said it best when he wrote, “Believers or not, it seems ridiculous for the public to categorically grade God like this, until you realize that it’s pollsters who asked the questions in the first place.”[2]

[1] Public Policy Polling, “Americans’ perception of Congress improves, but still poor.” July 21, 2011. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_National_721.pdf.

[2] Dino Grandoni, “Only 52% of Americans Approve of God’s Job Performance,” The Atlantic Wire, July 21, 2011. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/07/only-half-americans-approve-gods-job-performance/40268/.