Waning biblical worldview in US coincides with dramatic rejection of morality: Report

The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University conducts an annual national survey measuring the incidence of both biblical and competing worldviews, including satanism, Wicca, Marxism, moralistic therapeutic deism, nihilism, and secular humanism.

In their latest “American Worldview Inventory”
report, Dr. George Barna and his team noted a precipitous decline in the incidence of adults holding a biblical worldview in each of the last five generations. Although that might warrant celebration among secularists and others hostile to Christianity, the decline appears to coincide with a growing embrace of immorality.

“The United States is witnessing the destruction of biblical morality,” said Barna. “Whatever people may feel about that reality, we must recognize that an inescapable outcome of the rejection of our traditional moral base is the weakening of personal relationships

According to the report, the majority of respondents indicated that they regarded “lying, abortion, consensual intercourse between unmarried adults, gay marriage, and the rejection of absolute moral truth as morally acceptable.”

Fewer than than half of respondents indicated that the Bible amounted to their primary guide to morality, and a significant cohort, 29%, indicated that behavior is permissible so long as it is not harmful.

When it comes to abortion, support grew with each successive age cohort. Whereas 60% of Boomers said the execution of the unborn was acceptable behavior, 67% of Millennials and 69% of Gen Zers endorsed the practice.

60% of Boomers said sex between unmarried adults was morally acceptable; the younger generations were far more lenient — 63% of Gen Xers, 69% of Millennials, and 73% of Gen Zers saw no wrong in such uncommitted encounters.

There were, however, two cases in which Gen Zers bucked demoralizing trends. Gen Zers were found to be less likely than members of previous generations to believe that human beings are basically good and to endorse homosexuals getting “married.”

Among Christian respondents, Barna and his team found that those who attend Protestant churches were more likely than those attending Catholic churches to possess biblical moral perspectives for three-quarters of the moral choices identified in the survey. Even in the Protestant cohort, there was a perceived split between evangelicals and mainline Protestants — the former far more likely to take a Bible-based view on most moral issues.

Judging from the report’s “morality indicators,” 62% of adults attending evangelical churches, 42% of Catholics, 46% of mainline Protestants, 35% of people aligned with non-Christian faiths, and 27% of non-believers signaled that they live in harmony with biblical teaching, respectively.

“Biblical worldview incidence has declined with each of the last five generations,” said Barna. “During that time, the national incidence of adults holding a biblical worldview has plummeted from 12% to today’s 4% level.”

Barna’s assessment and figures rely upon an
admittedly puristic conformance with his particular criteria. Self-identified Christians who attend church, follow Christ, and attempt to lead moral lives may find themselves in the “syncretist” camp along with 92% of other Americans for having allegedly assimilated philosophies or practices deemed by the CRC to be alien to a biblical world.

“Our studies of teenagers and preteens indicate that the national incidence will drop another two points within the next 15 years, unless some dramatic and unusually effective spiritual renewal event occurs,” continued the sociologist. “The expected decline can be explained by the increasing influence of the worldview championed by Millennials and Gen Z as the proportion of adults from the Boomer and Elders generations substantially decreases.”

Barna suggested that the multi-generational moral slide helps to partly explain why “Americans
no longer trust their central institutions or relationships. Lying, stealing, and cheating have become the new moral norm for a majority of our citizens. We have steadily moved back to the jungle mentality of ‘every man for himself.'”

With the understanding that a lasting worldview is more or less formed by the time an individual enters the teenage years, Barna
told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” that the way to arrest the moral slide is for parents to take action early on.

‘Make them a disciple.’

“Our research has consistently shown is that children are not being pointed in the direction of developing a biblical worldview,” said the sociologist. “In other words, a decision-making filter that’s based on biblical truth. Instead, what they’re doing is they’re adopting the ways of the world. And part of the reason for that is because their parents love them, and they want them to succeed in life, but toward that end, they’re not necessarily setting them up to develop a biblical worldview.”

The reluctance or failure on the part of religious communities and parents to furnish children with a biblical worldview does not make for open-minded children, suggested Barna. Rather it leaves them at the mercy of the ideologies and intellectual fads of the day.

“The only people that make disciples are disciples. So number one, as a parent, you’ve got to be a disciple if you want your child or children to be followers of Jesus. And then secondly, recognize that biblically, it’s your dominant responsibility in life. This may be the most important thing you ever do in your life is to raise your child to be an ardent follower of Jesus Christ,” said Barna. “Make them a disciple.”

“Spend more time on this than you do on sports, than you do on shopping, than you do on hobbies, than you do on watching movies and TV together. It’s the most important thing that you’re ever going to do. Do it well,” he added.

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