A new survey reveals the stunning impact COVID-19 had on Americans’ religious perspectives.
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The percentage of adults with a biblical worldview has plummeted to just 4%. Dr. George Barna, director of the Cultural Research Center, finds the results of the American Worldview Inventory report alarming.
“It’s … much more extensive than we actually expected. Typically, you don’t find that religious beliefs change very much,” Barna told CBN News. “They’re probably the most stable of the factors in a person’s life because they relate to worldview that’s formed when you’re young, and it doesn’t change much as you age.”
But he said crisis moments like the pandemic can spark surprising shifts in perspective.
“We found a number of things that changed in terms of their views of truth, their views about God, their own assessment of their spiritual commitment, some of their moral perspectives — even their ideas and their behaviors related to religious activity, personal religious activity going to church, reading the Bible, acknowledging their sins, and asking for forgiveness,” Barna said. “Those kinds of things all shifted pretty dramatically.”
And these changes aren’t limited to the secular world. The report found just 44% of born-again Christians believe Jesus didn’t commit any sins during his life on earth, down from 58% in 2020. And the percentage of those who see a God-given calling or purpose for their lives declined by almost half from 88% to 46%.”
“We’ve really got to sit back and think, intelligently and strategically, about what are we doing in reference to worldview,” Barna said. “As we look at that, what we find is parents are doing next to nothing, intentionally; churches are doing next to nothing, intentionally.”
He continued, “And so what’s happening is that every child out there is a free moral agent trying to figure out the world, and I say ‘child’ because a person’s worldview is almost fully formed by the age of 13.”
Digital evangelist Matt Brown, founder of Think Eternity, agrees.
“We need to do the things that Jesus told us to do now more than ever, because there’s just never been a time that’s more important that we preach the Gospel, that we share the message of Jesus with the people around us, that we disciple the next generation,” Brown said. “It’s so important that we give the next generation a biblical worldview.”
Barna believes church closures during the pandemic and other policies left people shaken up and confused. Still, despite the dire numbers, hope remains.
“I think we’ve still got a little bit of a window of opportunity here, where people are trying to figure some things out,” he said. “This will be a great time for disciple-makers to say, ‘You know what? I’m going to start speaking to these issues that are on the minds and hearts of people today. I’m not going to go into esoteric theological conversations. I’ve got to deal with what people are really wrestling with.'”
While the situation might seem sobering or even insurmountable, Brown says starting small and clinging to truth can make all the difference.
“It just makes me realize, when you hear stuff like this, ‘OK, what do I need to do to respond in my circle?’ I don’t have to carry the weight of the whole country or the whole world on my shoulders, but each one of us has a God-given purpose and responsibility when we see this to say, ‘How can I speak into the lives of my family members? How can I speak into the lives of my friends and remind them that they have a purpose?” Brown said. “And, hopefully, as we all do that, we can see those numbers tick back up.”
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