Author archives: George Barna

Worldview is Central to Determining Views on Abortion

by George Barna

October 6, 2021

The month of October kicks off “Respect Life Month” in the Catholic Church, and with the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled to hear the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case on December 1, Christians across the country have begun praying in earnest for the case that could overturn Roev. Wade. How will Americans react to the possibility of the Court altering the long-standing Roe ruling concerning abortion?

Many Americans wonder why abortion remains such a high-profile issue after all these years. The explanation is simple. Almost 50 years ago, seven appointed—not elected—justices decided that killing unborn babies should be a constitutionally-protected act. Since that time, more than 62 million unborn babies have been killed in our nation.

Rest assured, that fact has not gone unnoticed by the God who knitted together those babies in the wombs of their mothers.

Recent worldview research provides helpful insight into Americans’ views about abortion. The annual American Worldview Inventory undertaken by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University shows that after a half-century of energetic public debate about abortion, the abortion perspectives of millions of Americans remain surprisingly tenuous and pliable.

Keep in mind that very few adults are capable of applying a biblical worldview to this (or any other) issue. Although 51 percent of Americans think they have a biblical worldview (according to a Center for Biblical Worldview survey), the American Worldview Inventory reveals that only six percent of Americans actually have one. Since most Americans (88 percent) are driven by a Syncretistic worldview—an inconsistent, unpredictable combination of elements originating in various competing worldviews—the nation’s thinking about the morality and permissibility of abortion is more likely to be based on current emotions and popular thought, not on biblical principles related to life.

Indeed, the American Worldview Inventory underscores the morally wayward thinking of Americans. Not quite four out of 10 adults (39 percent) believe that life is sacred. An equal proportion of Americans argue that life is what we make it or that there is no absolute value associated with human life. The remaining two out of 10 adults possess a variety of other views about life, including outright uncertainty as to whether or not life has any intrinsic value.

Views about life are closely related to worldview and faith commitments. For instance, more than nine out of every 10 adults (93 percent) who have a biblical worldview believe that human life is sacred. Eight out of every 10 (81 percent) SAGE Cons (i.e., the Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians) possess that view as well. Surprisingly, only six out of 10 theologically-determined born-again Christians (60 percent) say that human life is sacred. Those proportions dwarf those among people associated with non-Christian faiths (25 percent) or those who are spiritual skeptics (15 percent).

Many people are surprised to discover that Millennials are not a pro-life generation. Less than one-quarter of them (22 percent) believes that human life is sacred. Meanwhile, twice as many in Gen X and a slight majority of Boomers and their elders contend that human life is sacred.

Americans’ views about abortion continue to shock many observers. For instance, two out of three adults (64 percent) either say that the Bible is ambiguous in its views about abortion or that they don’t know what those views are. For a nation where roughly seven out of 10 adults call themselves “Christian,” that represents a mindboggling degree of biblical ignorance concerning one of the most high-profile social issues of the past half-century.

Not everyone falls into that vacuum of wisdom, though. More than nine out of 10 people who have a biblical worldview—a group known as Integrated Disciples—reject the notion that the Bible contains ambiguous ideas about abortion. Similarly, eight out of 10 SAGE Cons reject that position as well.

But the idea that the Bible is ambiguous about abortion is held by a variety of population segments. More than 70 percent of people who draw heavily from non-biblical worldviews—specifically, Marxism, Secular Humanism, Modern Mysticism, Postmodernism, and even Moralistic Therapeutic Deism—believe the Bible can be interpreted multiple ways regarding abortion. At least seven out of 10 adults aligned with a non-Christian faith or spiritual skeptics also embrace that point of view. And two-thirds of adults under the age of 50 harbor that misconception as well.

Given these perspectives, then, it should not shock us to find that nearly six out of 10 adults (57 percent) believe that a woman who chooses to have an abortion because her partner has left and she believes she cannot reasonably take care of the child is making a morally acceptable decision. Again, the survey shows that such a decision is a direct reflection of one’s worldview. Just two percent of the Integrated Disciples support abortion under such circumstances. In contrast, more than eight out of 10 who are adherents of other worldviews support that decision. That includes 89 percent of those who often draw their worldview from Postmodernism; 88 percent who often rely upon Secular Humanism; 82 percent who draw frequently from Modern Mysticism; and 81 percent who lean heavily upon Marxist philosophy.

Previous research by the Cultural Research Center also revealed that national opinion is roughly equally divided as to whether the Supreme Court should overturn its disastrous Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The subgroup numbers line up similarly to the segmentation patterns related to the responses to the other abortion-related questions described earlier. In general, those most desirous of the Court overturning the 1973 ruling are led by Integrated Disciples (67 percent consider a reversal of Roe to be a priority) and by SAGE Cons (74 percent). Those who want the Court to affirm Roe are led by groups that are not favorable to Christianity.

The Court’s ultimate decision, whatever it may be, will not satisfy everyone—or, perhaps, even a majority of Americans. But for biblically informed Christians, the abortion issue is not about pleasing a majority of the public or persuading a majority of jurists; it is a matter of understanding and obeying God’s principles and standing for His truth.

Most Americans Think They Have a Biblical Worldview. But Do They?

by George Barna

August 18, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

A recent nationwide survey conducted by Family Research Council’s Center for Biblical Worldview asked respondents to determine what the term “biblical worldview” meant to them and whether they fit the definition they embraced. The survey revealed that 51 percent of American adults believe they have a biblical worldview.

To make sense of that statistic, context comes from the annual American Worldview Inventory conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. That national assessment, which is based on more than 50 questions used to track the worldview of American adults, reveals that only 6 percent actually have a biblical worldview, regardless of whether or not they think they have such a foundation.

So, should we be pleased that most Americans think they have a biblical worldview when they clearly do not?

My viewpoint is that the 51 percent figure is more problematic than encouraging. Here’s why.

At the simplest level, the fact that most people think they have a biblical worldview indicates that a large share of those adults probably do not know what the biblical worldview is.

Experience—and common sense—suggests that if someone believes they already have a biblical worldview, they are unlikely to examine and seek to improve their worldview. After all, the widely embraced axiom instructs us: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Between the half of all adults who believe they have a biblical worldview and the minority who either don’t care or don’t want one, a large majority of Americans argue that they do not have a worldview problem to solve.

Roughly 70 percent of U.S. adults claim to be Christian. Of those, 84 percent claim to have a biblical worldview. However, the American Worldview Inventory reports that only 9 percent of self-professed Christians actually hold a biblical worldview. That is a remarkable level of self-deception and represents a huge educational challenge for those responsible for biblical worldview development—i.e., Christian churches, schools, and families.

We may narrow our scope of concern to those who are more deeply committed to the Christian faith. Based on beliefs about sin, repentance, and salvation (rather than mere self-identification), we can determine that approximately 30 percent of adults are likely born-again Christians. Once again relying upon data from the two independent studies, the Center for Biblical Worldview research shows that 47 percent of born-again adults claim to have a biblical worldview. Yet, the American Worldview Inventory reveals that just 19 percent of born-again Christians actually do. That’s a substantially smaller self-deception gap than among all self-identified Christians, but it is perhaps even more significant in its implications for the church and the spiritual trajectory of the nation.

Given our research revealing that few adults ever meaningfully alter their worldview, increasing a biblical worldview in our society is a daunting challenge for those who will attempt to change the existing conditions. The current situation suggests that biblical worldview facilitators are relying upon ineffective approaches and thus must re-strategize.

In subsequent posts, I will write more about the substance and process of developing the biblical worldview. In the meantime, consider these two challenges.

First, write down some of the critical elements of your worldview. You could describe your perceptions about:

  • the existence, nature, character, and purposes of God;
  • the nature, character, and purpose of human beings;
  • the existence, source, and application of absolute moral truth;
  • the reliability, relevance, and validity of the Bible;
  • whether or not people need to be saved from their sins, and if so, how that process works;
  • the existence of life after death, and the dynamics of that experience;
  • any existing spiritual or supernatural authorities, and define their powers and domains of influence; and
  • the definition of success for your life on earth.

Although worldview is more comprehensive than the sum of your responses to these questions, specifying your beliefs on these matters will provide a useful initial profile of your worldview. Our team will address many of these matters in forthcoming posts and has, in fact, already addressed some of these matters in articles currently on the Center for Biblical Worldview site.  We hope these resources will enable you to compare your worldview to biblical teachings and principles.

Second, identify the dominant worldview of those around you. How do their worldviews differ from yours? How do their specific beliefs and behaviors reflect or reject biblical perspectives? If nothing else, this thought exercise might help you identify useful conversations to have with others.

A biblical worldview enables you to think like Jesus so that you can live like Jesus. Because your worldview is the filter through which you make all of your decisions, developing a biblical worldview is one of the foundations of a truly Christian life.

George Barna is Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

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