A newly released survey has found that roughly six out of 10 Americans disagree with the notion that “human life is sacred.”
The data came from a survey conducted by the faith-based Barna Group, which contacted 2,000 adult respondents in the U.S., half by telephone and half via online questionnaires. Barna’s researchers defined the word “sacred” as “having unconditional, intrinsic worth.”
Among those 2,000 participants, only 39% agreed “human life is sacred.”
Those who identified as more deeply religious were more likely to see human life as “sacred,” though. For example, 60% of evangelical and born-again Christians agreed with the sentiment. Among other religious groups, 46% of Pentecostals, 45% of mainline Protestants, and 43% of Roman Catholics view human life as “sacred.”
Twelve percent of respondents said people are just “material substance — biological machines.” And another 12% said humans are “part of the mind of the universe.”
However, though most parted ways with the belief that “human life is sacred,” a majority of the survey’s responders — 69% — concluded people are “basically good,” an idea that “runs counter to the foundational biblical teaching that human beings are created by God and made in His image but are fallen and in need of redemption,” according to Barna.
Dr. George Barna, the founder of Barna Group and the director of the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, linked these findings to the racial unrest currently plaguing the country.
The protesters and rioters, he said, are focused on the wrong thing.
“A movement to defund police departments might make sense if people are innately good,” he explained. “People with a humanistic worldview argue that crime and violence happen because of poverty, bad parenting, systemic discrimination, and other external forces. Yet crime statistics, political tensions, tendencies toward anger and hatred, and America’s moral deterioration and confusion suggest that we are neither innately good nor that emotional responses to empirical challenges will solve the problems.”
“The underlying issues are ill-formed character and a broken moral compass,” Barna continued. “Economic, social and cultural depravity are outgrowths of our moral and character deficiencies, not causes.”
The veteran researcher went on to argue one “cannot change the hearts of people by outlawing racism.” While some systemic changes may very well be warranted, they will be of little value “unless the hearts and minds of the people who populate that system are transformed first,” Barna noted.