Add a sense of purpose in life to the roster of things Americans lost during the multi-year COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey revealed Thursday.
Findings from the American Worldview Inventory 2023, released by Arizona Christian University’s Cultural Research Center, showed “a staggering” 20-point drop in adults “who believe they have a unique, God given calling or purpose.”
Prior to the pandemic, 66% of adults said they believed this, but now, just under half (46%) affirm this, the poll said.
Also in decline is the number of adults who believe human life is sacred, according to the study. In 2020, that view was held by 39% of those surveyed, but dropped to 29% this year.
The number of adults overall who identify as Christian fell from 72% in 2020 to 68% this year, the survey indicated.
The number of people who said they were “deeply committed” to the practice of their religious faith also declined. Before the pandemic, six in ten adults affirmed this, but now fewer than half — 48% — say they did.
The survey also found that weekly church attendance is reported by 33% of adults, a loss of nearly six percentage points, or approximately 15 million adults, each week.
Those who identify as “born-again Christians,” who report a personal experience of coming to faith in Christ, also demonstrated changes in attitudes both good and bad, the survey indicated.
Sixty-five percent of born-again Christians responding to the survey agreed with the statement that the “purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength,” up 9% from the 2020 survey.
But only 46% of respondents identifying as born-again Christians said they believe their lives have a “unique, God-given calling or purpose,” down 42% from the 2020 poll. There was also a 35-point drop in the percentage of such Christians who said they were “deeply committed” to practicing their faith, from 85% in 2020 to 50% this year.
George Barna, a longtime Christian pollster who now directs research activities at the Cultural Research Center, said the findings demonstrate the pandemic’s impact on personal identity.
“The impact of the pandemic and the strong-arm tactics of government during the lockdown years may have shaken the faith of many Christians,” Mr. Barna said in a statement. “The huge drop in foundational perspectives among born-again adults may foretell local churches being less able to rely on the active and reliable support of that critical niche of the church body.”
He said now “is a time when pastors would be wise to return to many basic Christian principles to rebuild the spiritual foundation of their congregants.”
Mr. Barna said the severity of the pandemic might have contributed to the shift in attitudes and beliefs the survey revealed.
“Most religious beliefs change over the course of generations, not a few years. However, we know that major life crises have the capacity to introduce substantial change quickly in the foundations of people’s faith,” he said.
The Barna-led researchers said both surveys used nationally representative samples of adults 18 years of age or older with a “mixed-mode data collection” employed. They said the error margin for each survey is 2.2 percentage points.
A detailed version of the survey results can be found online.
Source : https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/apr/20/covid-19-pandemic-sapped-americans-sense-purpose-w/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&rand=1247