Survey Finds Many Americans Reject Moral Absolutes, Including Some Who Identify as Christians

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According to a nationwide survey conducted by Dr. George Barna and the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, more than half of the sample Americans polled agreed that truth is “up to each individual” and there are “no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time.” Researchers were further discouraged to find that a number of those who denied absolutes attend evangelical, Protestant and charismatic churches.

“We’re living in an America increasingly unmoored from its founding in biblical truth,” university President Len Munsil lamented in a statement. “Even in the most basic questions of life, like how we make moral choices, we’re choosing to lean completely on our own understanding to decide what’s right and wrong.”

The Center surveyed 2,000 adults at random in January for its American Worldview Inventory study, interviewing those of all ages, ethnicities, beliefs and political persuasions on the telephone or online.

Among the questions posed was how the respondent determines truth. While four of ten cited God, “another four out of ten believe that either inner certainty (16%), scientific proof (15%), tradition[] (5%), or public consensus (4%) is the means of knowing truth,” the report states.

Two of every ten said that there is no such thing as truth or that they just don’t know.

Those under age 30 were found to be less likely to cite God as the source of truth than older Americans — 31% compared to 45%.

Out of those identify as Christian, 54% cited God as the source of truth, and seven out of ten of those specifically cited themselves as being “born-again Christians.”

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“While a similar proportion adopts that same belief among those who attend either evangelical (72%) or Pentecostal (70%) churches, the percentage drops precipitously among those who attend either a mainline Protestant (37%) or Catholic (43%) church,” the report notes.

But the Cultural Research Center says it was taken aback to find that many of those who attend evangelical churches and cite God as the source of truth still adhere to moral relativism.

“An unexpected result is that people who attend evangelical churches … are as likely to reject the existence of absolute moral truth as they are to accept it. Overall, 46% say moral truth is dictated by the individual; 48% say there are absolute morals truths that apply to all people, all the time,” the report notes.

“42% of mainline attenders endorsed moral absolutes versus less than one-third (31%) of those associated with Pentecostal or charismatic churches,” and “less than one-third of those aligned with the Catholic Church accept the existence of absolute moral truths (31%).”

Of all Americans surveyed in general, 58% agreed that “identifying moral truth is up to each individual; there are no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time.” One third, or 32%, disagreed, and one out of ten adults said that they do not know.

“Now we see that Americans have rejected the idea that God is truth and that the truth principles He has given for our good are reliable and relevant,” Barna, the director of research at the Center, lamented. “As a nation we are becoming increasingly self-reliant. We trust ourselves or our discoveries rather than the truth principles God provides.”

“The diminished role of God in peoples’ lives highlights why just 6% of American adults possess a biblical worldview,” he added. “It’s one thing to lack theological clarity regarding biblical perspectives on immigration policy or the end times. It’s a much more serious condition when the general public outright rejects God as the source of truth, the Bible as the conveyance of truth, and the very importance of integrating a known, proven and stable source of truth into our daily decision-making and lifestyle.”

Read the report in full here. 

In John 17:17, Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.”

Proverbs 3:7 says, “Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.”


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