(WBIR- Knoxville) New Harvest Church of God is participating in a research study conducted by New York University. The results will show how a person's religious beliefs impact their opinions on social issues.
"It's a great move forward for major research at higher levels of learning and power to be consulting the people in the pews," Senior Pastor Tony Richie said.
The study began in October 2013 and will end on October 15, Richie said. The results will be published in religious and political journals.
While Christians make up the majority of the people in the study, Jews, Muslims, and other religious faiths are included too, Richie said.
The study questions people of faith about issues like immigration, gun control, abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception, and euthanasia.
The goal is to find out how religious people form their opinions on these issues, Richie said.
"We don't want a church-run state or a state-run church, but separation doesn't mean isolation," Richie said. "As churches, we live in accordance with the laws of the land, and the laws of the land ought to take into consideration the values of churches."
The four phases of the study include research, surveys, training, and publicizing the results. New Harvest Church of God is currently in the training phase, Richie said.
Richie said he is glad that local churches like New Harvest and other religious groups are coming together to talk about these issues and in turn, affect change in public policies.