Christianity, which was once shared by a majority of Americans, has seen a gradual decline as fewer people hold to the core tenets of the faith.
The latest research by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University continues the survey series American Worldview Inventory 2021 in examining biblical and competing worldviews of American adults.
According to the most recent release from the study, there has been a sharp decline in the status of Christianity across the nation in the past several decades. In 1980, more than 90 percent of Americans claimed to be Christian. That percentage dropped to 80 percent by 1990, in which the proportion lasted until after the turn of the millennium. By 2010, only three in four adults claimed to be Christians, with a further decline today as just under two out of three make the same claim.
In correspondence to the decline in Christianity, a decrease in confidence in religion was also present. About two-thirds of American adults had high confidence in religion in the 1970s. By the 1980s, however, that confidence was waning, and Christianity’s influence was declining.
At the start of the millennium, 56 percent of adults had confidence in religion. That number continued to decline, and now, barely four in ten adults hold a high degree of confidence in religion.
The decline of Christianity as the preferred faith in the U.S. is indicated by the concurrent declines in a quartet of faith-related measures that CRC veteran researcher Dr. George Barna has been tracking since the late 1970s.
In 1991, 86 percent of people believed in the existence of God as the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe who still rules the world today. Today, that percentage has dropped to 46 percent.
Regarding the belief that the Bible is the accurate and reliable Word of God, the decline shifted from 70 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2021. On the topic of salvation, 36 percent of adults believed in salvation through confession of sin and accepting Jesus as Savior in 1991. Today, that amount is 30 percent. The survey also noted that this measured as high as 45 percent and was 39 percent in 2011.
The percentage of Americans possessing a biblical worldview also significantly decline (12 percent in 1995; 6 percent in 2021).
In response to the findings, Barna called on ministry leaders to consider a new mindset about ministry in America. He noted that since worldviews are developed at a young age, churches should “focus on and invest most heavily in reaching children and equipping their parents.”
“Because the Bible is increasingly rejected as a trustworthy and relevant document of life principles, we must re-establish the reasons for its value and reliability,” he asserted.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.