Survey: ‘America Needs Spiritual Renewal More than a Political Majority’

spiritual renewal USA

Throughout history, America has been known as “the land of the free” and “the home of the brave.” Or as we learned as children, America is a melting pot of different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs. Yet, despite those differences, America is a land of unity. At least that’s the beacon of hope, the “city on a hill” that it was meant to be and remain. However, all it takes is a glance from any news outlet to see that this country is now plagued with division.

George Barna, director of the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, released a new survey that “underscores that the foundational beliefs of Americans are so fragmented that Americans are presently incapable of developing a united perspective on who America is and how we will move forward together.”

Especially in an election year, the report highlighted, Americans are looking for hope, and they’re looking for it in the next leader, believing that is the answer to restoring the nation. But after analyzing how 14 different worldviews represented in American culture view “core characteristics such as truth, purpose, success, responsibility, and community,” unity appears “presently incapable,” Barna explained.

Notably, 92% of American adults surveyed “embrace a worldview known as Syncretism — a fusion of disparate ideologies, beliefs, behaviors, and principles culled from a variety of competing worldviews into a customized blend,” the report noted. Very far behind in second was a biblical worldview, which only 4% of respondents held. Only 1% of the population adheres to Mormonism, Secular Humanism, Nihilism, and Postmodernism. And making up less than one-half of 1% were Eastern Mysticism, Marxism, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, Judaism, Islam, Satanism, Wicca, and Animism.

Of these worldviews, three categories were represented: monotheism (belief in a single god), polytheism (belief in multiple gods), and atheism (belief in no god). Aside from different views on a supreme being, these worldviews also differed on other factors “such as truth, holy literature, purpose, success, the goodness of humanity, morality, the significance of Jesus Christ, life after death, and more.”

The results showed there were at least 11 significant points that American adults “cannot seem to agree upon,” including:

  • “Basis of truth;
  • Whether other people deserve to be respected;
  • Importance of the God of Israel as an authority source/guide for life;
  • Belief about the value of human life;
  • Acceptance of the existence of absolute moral truths;
  • Existence of Satan;
  • Means to happiness in life;
  • Morality of intentionally deceiving other people;
  • Morality of consensual pre-marital sexual relations;
  • Personal commitment to discerning and doing God’s will;
  • Appropriate relationship to/treatment of animals.”

Barna, who is also a senior research fellow for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council, believes the “survey data reflect a nation desperate for guidance and hope” but also shows that Americans “place optimism in the wrong sources of wisdom.” He emphasized it’s “disheartening to see how out of whack people’s expectations have become during these chaotic and confusing times.”

According to Barna, Americans are “deceived” if they truly believe “electing the ‘right’ president will bring stability, security, unity, and sanity to America.” What America needs, Barna insisted, is to cease “short-sighted … selfishness” and experience “a spiritual awakening that will foster a deeper understanding of self and society in light of our shared spiritual condition,” which he said is the “only true hope for America at this point.”

Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at FRC, commented to The Washington Stand that while he agrees with Barna’s conclusion, there’s more to it. Christ is the only true hope, but that doesn’t mean government should be abandoned.

“God created the church, the family, and the government for different purposes,” he said. But while there “is certainly a limit to what government can accomplish,” he added, “God created government to reward good and punish evil and we should see to it that it accomplishes those purposes. If there is evil within the jurisdiction of government that should be stopped, we should encourage government to stop it.”

Ultimately, Backholm contended that we “shouldn’t neglect government because it can’t accomplish what God intended the family or the church to do.” Instead, “We should see to it that every institution fulfills the purpose He created for it.”

He concluded, “There is no error in recognizing that government has limitations, but there is error in suggesting those limits make it unworthy of our attention.”

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

Photo: Flickr

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Family Research Council
Founded in 1983, Family Research Council is a nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to articulating and advancing a family-centered philosophy of public life. In addition to providing policy research and analysis for the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government, FRC seeks to inform the news media, the academic community, business leaders, and the general public about family issues that affect the nation from a biblical worldview. Website: frc.org 1-800-225-4008 801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001