George Barna: America needs 'spiritual awakening' to achieve 'unity'

A prominent Christian researcher insists that with the 2024 presidential election less than a year away, America needs a “spiritual awakening” to resolve the pervasive division and polarization that has defined American politics.

The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has published its fifth annual American Worldview Inventory on monday Based on interviews with 2,000 American adults conducted in January, the survey examined the prevalence of 14 different worldviews among the population.

The research identified syncretism, defined as “a fusion of disparate ideologies, beliefs, behaviors and principles from various competing worldviews into an adapted mixture,” as the dominant worldview in American society. Ninety-two percent of those surveyed embrace syncretism.

The second most common worldview, biblical theism, is subscribed to by 4% of American adults. The Cultural Research Center defines biblical theism, also known as the “biblical worldview,” as “a means of experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality in light of biblical perspectives.”

The Cultural Research Center measures adherence to a biblical worldview based on responses to survey questions asking about the Bible, truth and morality, faith practices, family and the value of life, God, creation and history, human character and nature, lifestyle, behavior and relationships, purpose and calling as well as sin, salvation and God relationship.

Support for four additional worldviews was recorded at 1% each: Mormonism, nihilism, postmodernism, and secular humanism. The remaining worldviews, animism, Eastern mysticism, Islam, Judaism, Marxism, moralistic therapeutic deism, Satanism, and Wicca each had less than 0.5% adherence.

Additionally, the survey found that adherence to Syncretism extends across multiple religious denominations. Sincerity is accepted by 92% of Christians, who make up 66% of the population. In contrast, only 6% of Christians subscribe to a biblical worldview.

Within Christianity, syncretism was most pronounced among Catholics (98%), who make up 17% of the population. Only 1% of Catholics adhere to the biblical worldview. Eighty-eight percent of Protestants and 96% of Christians who subscribe to a different faith tradition also embrace syncretism. On the other hand, only 9% of Protestants and 4% of “other” Christians have a biblical worldview. Protestants and “other” Christians account for 36% and 11% of the population, respectively.

Mormons had the smallest share of adherents embracing syncretism (74%), with the remaining 26% subscribing to Mormonism. Eighty-nine percent of those who do not belong to any particular religion adhere to syncretism, with 5% of the non-religious living in accordance with secular humanism.

George Barna, the director of the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University and a well-known pollster, elaborated on the results of this year's American Worldview Inventory and their implications for the upcoming presidential election of 2024.

“People have become so self-focused and their beliefs are so self-serving that no politician elected in 2024 can reasonably be expected to restore a common purpose and a common vision to the nation without a serious restructuring of people's worldviews,” he said.

Barna identified “the only real hope for America at this point” as “a period of spiritual renewal that restores a widespread understanding and basis of truth, individual purpose and personal responsibility within a community context.”

According to Barna, “Putting the burden of uniting this divided country on the shoulders of a president or a political party is unrealistic. Only a spiritual awakening can usher in the needed wave of spiritual wisdom and commitment, and such renewal does not happen overnight or by accident.”

“It must become an intentional and long-term commitment,” he added. In addition to examining the prevalence of certain worldviews in American society, the latest research found that “a majority of adults hold the same views on less than one-third of the 53 unique worldviews in the Inventory.” Barna identified nine of the 53 items as “beliefs or behaviors that would be helpful in building a national consensus to advance the country in unity.”

The survey found that most Americans view the Bible as an “authoritative and reliable guidebook for life” and see Jesus Christ as an “important guide” for their lives. At the same time, a majority of Americans agree that “hate and aggression are not necessary for personal survival” and thought it important to “thank, praise and worship God at least once a week.”

Most Americans also agreed that “not trying to bewitch other people” and rejected “the philosophy that you can do whatever you want to do as long as it doesn't harm other people.” The ideas that people should “pay back any money that [they] borrowing from someone else” and that people should have the option “not to personally participate in an abortion, regardless of their belief in the permissibility of other people having an abortion” also received majority support.

The American Worldview Inventory also singled out some of the areas where Americans could not seem to come to an agreement: the basis of truth, whether other people deserve to be respected, the importance of the God of Israel as an authoritative source and guide for life. , belief in the value of human life, acceptance of the existence of absolute moral truths and the existence of Satan.

Americans also had difficulty agreeing on the means to happiness in life, the morality of intentionally deceiving other people, the morality of premarital sex, personal commitment to discerning and doing God's will, and the proper relationship to and treatment of animals.


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