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How well does NASCAR reach its Christian audience?

POSTED: February 22, 2016 10:19 a.m.
Eric Rigby/

While auto racing is not even close to being the most popular national sport — only 7 percent of Americans called it their favorite, as reported by 247Wallst.com — it certainly appeals to people of faith.

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NASCAR races are not all rednecks, booze and cars. There's some faith mixed in there too.

While auto racing is not even close to being the most popular national sport — only 7 percent of Americans called it their favorite, as reported by 247Wallst.com — it certainly appeals to people of faith.

This is according to the recent Faith Equality Index, the second largest diversity index in America, released earlier this month by the Faith Driven Consumer (FDC) group. The North Carolina-based nonprofit reports that 70 percent of Americans self-identify as Christians, but only about one-quarter of those fall into the Faith Driven Consumer category. That is, "Christians who choose to live out their faith in every arena of life — including the marketplace."

We're talking approximately 41 million Americans spending an estimated $2 trillion annually. Research firm American Insights emphasizes that 86 percent of these consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that welcomes their Christian values.

The index ranks well-known brands on a scale of 0 to 100 on "how well [they] acknowledge Faith Driven Consumers by welcoming, embracing, and celebrating them." The four areas analyzed in the survey are public commitment to faith-driven consumers, faith-compatible corporate actions, equal application of equal protections and corporate competency in the faith-driven consumer market segment.

At a basic level, the index examines how compatible a company is with Christian values, and rewards them with a high score and outreach to Christian shoppers. For instance, Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby both received impressive scores — both companies are closed on Sundays to observe the Christian Sabbath, they sprinkle their holiday advertisements with the word "Christmas" and they offer philanthropic support for religious groups and events.

And with the Daytona 500 taking place on Feb. 21, NASCAR seems at least headed in the right direction with its score of 50 out of 100. The score might not seem great until compared to pro football's score — 24 out of 100.

FDC founder Chris Stone isn't convinced the NFL is doing enough to appeal to its Christian market, as reported by the Daily Signal. "The National Football League is significantly comprised of Christian players, coaches, and executives, and as such, many in our community assume the organization is welcoming of faith-driven consumers. But its score of 24 out of 100 says otherwise."

Where NASCAR scored the highest in the faith-compatible corporate actions category — which includes the league's "pro-life view on abortion, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia" and its respect and compatibility of "biblical teaching on sexuality, gender, marriage and family" — the NFL didn't score particularly well in any category. The index shows how pro football could do a better job of promoting or supporting "wholesome images in marketing and culture while refraining from the promotion or support of pornography, sexual immorality or the sexual exploitation of individuals, as viewed through a biblical lens."

In reference to ads from Super Bowl 50, Stone suggested that the advertisers as well as the NFL missed out on "a 'prime opportunity' for Americans to recognize and support brands that cater to the Christian consumer."

It's too early to tell if the Faith Equality Index will actually have much influence on how consumers decide where to shop. Assuming the data from American Insights is correct, that's a lot of individuals spending a lot of money who are more likely to take their business to companies that respect Christian values.
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