Survey Finds Many Americans Look to Themselves, Others Rather Than Bible When Making Moral Decisions

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The sixth installation of the nationwide “American Worldview” survey conducted by Dr. George Barna and the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that 61 percent of respondents said they look to themselves or other people when making moral decisions. Less than one third said that they look to the Bible.

“The consequences of rejecting God’s truth are undeniable. We know that what we believe dictates how we behave. Today, we are seeing the moral breakdown permeating the culture around us, and it is playing out with devastating consequences in our culture,” remarked university President Len Munsil in a statement.

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.

Questions included, “When you have an important moral or ethical decision to make, which one of the following is the source of guidance that you, personally, are most likely to rely upon?” Among the choices were “yourself,” “trusted people,” “faith-related sources,” “society’s standards” and “don’t know.”

31 percent answered “yourself,” 30 percent selected “trusted people” such as family and friends, and 29 percent chose “faith-related sources,” with 23 percent of that being the Bible and the other six percent being “direct Divine intervention.”

However, even more discouraging were the responses from those who identified themselves as people of faith, as less than half (48 percent) cited the Bible as being their main source of moral guidance.

But, the Cultural Research Center also found that the type of church the person attends often corresponded with their answer.

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“The adults most likely to rely upon a religious resource — usually the Bible — were those aligned with either an evangelical church (58%) or Pentecostal church (62%),” the report states. “People associated with a mainline Protestant congregation were most likely to rely upon themselves for moral wisdom (34%). Catholics were most likely to turn to other people (34%).”

The survey additionally provided specific scenarios, such as not repaying a small amount of money borrowed from a relative because they haven’t mentioned it, telling a “white lie” to save face, having sex outside of marriage if one feels they will marry the person someday, and having an abortion because the partner left the relationship. Participants were asked to imagine that someone had come to them for advice on the situations.

Out of the 2,000 respondents, 61 percent said that willful failure to repay the loan was unacceptable, while 32 percent found telling a “falsehood of minor consequence in order to protect their personal best interests or reputation” was either permissible or “not a moral issue.”

When asked about “having sexual relations with someone that they love and expect to marry in the future,” only 27 percent said that fornication in such a situation is morally unacceptable. 38 percent said that it is justifiable and another 18 percent said it is not a moral issue. Others said they didn’t know or would decline to give advice on the matter.

In the instance of having an abortion because the baby’s father left the relationship and the mother doesn’t feel she can care for the child, 44 percent said that the abortion would unacceptable while another 33 percent found it to be okay or just not a moral issue.

Read the “Perceptions of Morality and Moral Choices” report in full here.

Photo Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Dr. George Barna said that he was not surprised at the results of the survey as he has observed America’s departure from its moorings for decades.

“The percentage of adults with a biblical worldview has been sliced in half since 1995,” he remarked in a statement. “As Americans embrace the consequences of unrestrained moral choices, we will see further rejections of traditional marriage, conventional child-rearing practices and objectives, millions more abortions, excessive substance abuse, and wider acceptance of suicide, polygamy, sexual perversion, and religious persecution.”

“Any society that substitutes humanity’s latest and greatest ideas for God’s truth and authority is on the fast track to ruin,” Barna warned.

He said that much of the responsibility to change the trajectory of the nation lies in the hands of the Church and the family unit.

“The restoration of biblical truth can facilitate the turnaround of a declining society,” Barna stated. “It starts with churches relentlessly and consistently teaching biblical truth principles for practical application within all dimensions of life. It requires churches equipping parents to teach those truth principles to their children.”

“It demands parents placing their young people in educational, relational, and entertainment environments where God’s truth principles are respected and practiced,” he continued. “It advances by electing public officials who pass civil laws in harmony with God’s religious Law.”

“Restoring our foundations will be neither easy nor quick, but such a turnaround can happen if a remnant of God’s people devotes themselves to such a process of cultural deliverance.”

Ezekiel 33:11 states, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”


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