Poll: Most Preteens Reject the Bible as God’s Word; It's the 'Existential Challenge Facing the Church'

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Feb 14, 2024
Poll: Most Preteens Reject the Bible as God’s Word; It's the 'Existential Challenge Facing the Church'

Poll: Most Preteens Reject the Bible as God’s Word; It's the 'Existential Challenge Facing the Church'

Only one-fourth of America’s preteens believe the Bible is the Word of God and only one-fifth believe in absolute truth, according to a new survey that warns the nation’s preteens are “following in the unfortunate spiritual footsteps of the generations that have preceded them.”

The poll of U.S. children ages 8-12 by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that 25 percent agree with the statement that the Bible is the “true words of God that should be a guide to knowing right from wrong, and living a good life.” A total of 21 percent agree “there are absolute truths -- things that are right and things that are wrong, that do not depend on feelings, preferences, or circumstance.”

On the subject of Christ and salvation, 36 percent of preteens say they believe “Jesus Christ is the only way to experience eternal salvation, based on confessing your sins and relying only upon His forgiveness of your sins.”

The data is included in the new book, Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart by George Barna.

“America’s children are receiving an inadequate introduction to the Bible,” a survey analysis said. 

Further, the analysis said, “Today’s children are not being raised in an environment in which the concept of absolute moral truth receives favorable treatment, and the widespread doubts about absolute truth are clearly affecting children.”

Meanwhile, about one-fourth (27 percent) of preteens agree that the “main reason to live is to know, love and serve God, with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

Barna said the data points to a spiritual and worldview crisis in America.

“Children are intellectual and spiritual sponges in their preteen years. They are desperately trying to make sense of the world, their identity, their purpose, and how to live a meaningful and satisfying life,” Barna explained. “Parents, in particular, have a duty to focus on and invest in the development of their child’s worldview, which is simply their decision-making filter for life. If parents do not fill that vacuum, other sources -- such as the media, the schools, and even the child’s peers -- will influence that worldview construction.”

Historical data shows a “decreasing percentage of Americans embracing a biblical worldview since we started tracking this in the early 1990s,” Barna said.

“Because of the strong correlation between biblical worldview and genuine Christian discipleship, we are on the precipice of Christian invisibility in this nation unless we get serious about this crisis and invest heavily in fixing what’s broken,” Barna said. “This is so much more significant than the endless, simple-minded arguments in church circles about attendance and musical preferences. The worldview development of children is the existential challenge facing the American Church today.”

Image credit: ©Getty/Anastasiia-Stiahailo


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.



Poll: Most Preteens Reject the Bible as God’s Word; It's the 'Existential Challenge Facing the Church'