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Biblical worldview ‘much closer to extinction’ after lockdowns

The vast majority of Americans — 96 percent — do not hold to a biblical worldview following the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new survey.

Calling it a “significant change” in Americans’ worldview, the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University led by researcher George Barna found in its survey that the lockdowns impacted the already-dwindling number of people who claim to hold a biblical worldview.

In what Barna called the first national study of its kind, the incidence of biblical worldview declined to a mere 4%, down one-third from the 6% recorded just months before the pandemic lockdowns started in March 2020. 

“Americans tinkered with many things during the three lockdown years — from home-improvement projects to baking sourdough bread — but improving their worldview apparently was not one of them,” Barna wrote.

A biblical worldview, the survey said, is one in which the entirety of a person’s “ideas about all dimensions of life and eternity are based on biblical principles and commands.”

The data — which was part of a survey that began in 2020 known as the American Worldview Inventory (AWVI), which evaluates the worldview of the U.S. adult population — also found the pandemic fueled a decline in biblical worldview even among those who identify as born-again Christians, from 19% pre-pandemic to 13% post-pandemic.

Using a metric that measures worldview segments across three categories, the AWVI showed the bulk of the American public falls into what it calls the World Citizen category, those who may embrace some biblical truth but “believe and behave in ways that are distinct from biblical teaching.”

While 82% are in the World Citizen category, only 69% identified as such in 2020, marking a sharp jump in the number of Americans drifting from exclusively biblical teaching.

Barna, who also created the AWVI, called the data “frightening” and warned the current incidence of adults with the biblical worldview is the lowest since he began measuring it in the early 1990s.

“When you put the data in perspective, the biblical worldview is shuffling toward the edge of the cliff,” said Barna. “As things stand today, biblical theism is much closer to extinction in America than it is to influencing the soul of the nation.” 

Part of the problem, said Barna, is that younger people, in particular, are “largely isolated from biblical thought in our society and are the most aggressive at rejecting biblical principles in our culture.”

Barna said Christian churches and schools should be putting more effort into helping their congregations and students think through the Scriptures.

“People do not develop a biblical worldview randomly or by default,” he continued. “The impact of arts and entertainment, government, and public schools is clearly apparent in the shift away from biblical perspectives to a more experiential and emotional form of decision-making.”

The AWVI assessment is based on several dozen worldview-related questions measuring both beliefs and behavior. The latest research was conducted in January among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, with an estimated maximum sampling error of approximately plus or minus 2 percentage points, based on the 95% confidence interval. 

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