CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES NAME THE MOST EFFECTIVE CULTURAL CHANGE ORGANIZATIONS

If you want to make a difference in American culture, you are most likely to do it in conjunction with a non-profit organization. That’s one of the striking conclusions from a national survey among Christian conservatives conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI). The survey asked people to identify the organizations, of any type, that they believe made the most positive impact on American society during 2016.

Christian Non-Profits Got It Done

The survey respondents overwhelmingly identified non-profit organizations as the entities making the greatest positive difference in American society last year. Of the five dozen organizations specified by survey respondents, only one of them – Fox News – was a for-profit organization.

The survey among SAGE Cons – an acronym for Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservatives – also found that eight out of every ten of the culture-influencing organizations were Christian non-profits.

Most Effective Change Agents

The ACFI survey asked SAGE Cons to identify the organizations they believed to have been most effective at leading positive cultural change in the U.S. during 2016.

Topping the list were the American Center for Law & Justice (chosen by 35%) and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (named by 33%). Samaritan’s Purse (29%), American Family Association (27%), Focus on the Family (23%), and the Family Research Council (22%) were the next most recognized organizations.

Both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse are currently under the leadership of Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham.

A bit farther down the list were Fox News (listed by 19%), Heritage Foundation (17%), National Right to Life (16%), Judicial Watch (14%), and Hillsdale College (13%).

Other organizations named by at least 5% of SAGE Cons were Liberty Counsel (9%), Wikileaks (9%), Tea Party (9%), Salvation Army (8%), Colson Center (7%), Ravi Zacharias Ministries (7%), and Susan B. Anthony List (5%).

 

About the Research

The research described in this report is drawn from a nationwide online survey that is part of the RightView™ longitudinal research project, a national study undertaken among spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives – a segment known as SAGE Cons. This wave of the survey had a sample size of 700 qualified adults and was conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute during January of 2017.

In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 8% to 10% of the national adult population, which constitutes a segment of some 20 to 25 million individuals.

The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians to engage in cultural transformation in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual political candidates or parties.

Additional information about this study and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com. To receive a free copy of the weekly research reports produced by ACFI, visit the website and register for the American Culture Review newsletter.

MOST POPULAR CONSERVATIVE LEADERS

New survey data from the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) reveal the most popular cultural leaders in the eyes of Christian conservatives as well as the individuals deemed to be most effective at leading cultural change.

Popular Leaders

In a pair of national surveys conducted by ACFI among SAGE Cons – the Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians – the popularity of 31 leaders was evaluated. Those leaders included both political and religious leaders.

Five of those 30 leaders were rated as favorable in the eyes of at least nine out of ten SAGE Cons. Four of those leaders were political and one was a social/religious leader. The top-rated leaders were Vice President Mike Pence (98%); Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson (97%); Rev. Franklin Graham, of the Billy Graham Association and Samaritan’s Pence (97%); Gov. Mike Huckabee (94%); and President Donald Trump (91%).

Just below those leaders was Senator Ted Cruz, who received an 85% favorability score from SAGE Cons.

The next tier of leaders included Attorney General Jeff Sessions (79%); pollster George Barna (77%); presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway (75%); and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (73%).

Other leaders who generated a favorability score above 50% were Family Research Council president Tony Perkins (66%); president of American Values, Gary Bauer (64%); president of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint (58%); president of the American Family Association, Tim Wildmon (54%); and Secretary of Defense James Mattis (53%). David Barton, president of Wallbuilders, had a 50% favorability rating.

Several political leaders failed to reach the 50% favorability plateau due to low awareness levels. President advisor Steve Bannon (49% favorability but unknown to 38%), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (45% favorability but unknown to 49%), and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price (29% favorability but unknown to 70%) all suffered from being off the radar among large chunks of the SAGE Con population.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was well-known but not widely appreciated among SAGE Cons. The veteran Senator from Kentucky had a 44% favorable – 44% unfavorable rating, with only 11% unaware of him.

The lack of public awareness impacted the ratings of many of the national Christian leaders evaluated by Christian conservatives. Ralph Reed (38% favorable), James Robison (37% favorable), Jack Graham (22%), Russell Moore (16%), Jim Garlow (14%), Samuel Rodriguez (11%), and Bob Vander Plaats (11%) were Christian leaders who generated little negative public reaction, but were invisible to a majority of conservative Christians.

The lowest levels of favorability among the national ministry leaders tested – again attributable to low levels of awareness – were recorded for Lance Wallnau (9% favorable), Jim Wallis (7% favorable), Sam Rohrer (5%), and Steve Scheibner (5%).

Wallis held the distinction of being the only Christian leader evaluated among SAGE Cons who had a higher unfavorable than favorable rating. A leader of the Christian Left, Wallis received a 7% favorable and 10% unfavorable rating from SAGE Cons. His “unfavorable” score was twice as high as that accorded to the next highest negative rating among religious leader (Russell Moore, 5%).

 

Leaders of Change

The ACFI survey also identified the leaders whom SAGE Cons believed to have been most effective at leading positive cultural change in the U.S. during 2016.

Topping the list, by a large margin, was Franklin Graham. Two-thirds of SAGE Cons (66%) mentioned his name, placing him at the top of the list. He was named more often than the second-highest rated person by 28 percentage points. He was listed by Protestants twice as frequently as by Catholics. He was also mentioned more frequently by conservative Christians in the Midwest and West than by those in the South and Northeast.

Trailing the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association executive were HUD Secretary Ben Carson (listed by 38%); President Donald Trump (30%); and Vice President Mike Pence (27%).

A bit farther down the list were family advocate and radio host James Dobson (19%); biblical apologist Ravi Zacharias (19%); Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins (16%); past presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (16%); reality TV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines (16%); and radio personality Rush Limbaugh (13%).

Other leaders perceived by significant numbers of conservative Christians to have ushered in positive cultural transformation last year included several additional faith-centered leaders: David Barton, Mat Staver, Tim Wildmon, Eric Metaxas, and Jim Daly.

SAGE Cons had the opportunity to name any leaders that came to mind as having fostered positive cultural transformation in 2016. Perhaps surprisingly, many of the high-profile leaders regularly promoted by the major media did not appear on the list constructed by Christian conservatives. Among the well-known leaders who did notmake the list of people credited with producing positive cultural transformation were:

  • Political leaders including former President Barack Hussein Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left-wing philanthropist George Soros, and long-time House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
  • Technology executives Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Eric Schmidt
  • Business icons Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk
  • Activist musicians Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and Barbra Streisand
  • Entertainers Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, and Alec Baldwin.

None of those individuals was named by at least one-half of one percent of the SAGE Con population.

 

About the Research

The research described in this report is drawn from two studies that are part of the RightView™ longitudinal research project, a national study undertaken among spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives – a segment known as SAGE Cons. These waves of the survey had a combined sample size of 1,400 qualified adults and were conducted online by the American Culture & Faith Institute during January and February of 2017.

In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 8% to 10% of the national adult population, which constitutes a segment of some 20 to 25 million individuals.

The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians to engage in cultural transformation in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual political candidates or parties.

Additional information about this study and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com. To receive a free copy of the weekly research reports produced by ACFI, visit the website and register for the American Culture Review newsletter.

Changes Most Americans Want

Surveys have shown that Americans are unhappy with the present state of our society and want to see changes made. Millions of Americans indicate that they are willing to participate in bringing about some significant changes to our society. But pinpointing exactly which changes most people will embrace is not so easy.

Things Nobody Wants

Two new nationwide surveys by the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) clarify some of the societal options that Americans do and do not want.

There were three alternatives tested in the surveys that most people do not want. In each case, only minorities of people from a wide variety of population subgroups – based on political ideology, faith alignment, generation, worldview, and other attributes – expressed interest in this trio of possibilities.

The first change that was widely rejected – dismissed by almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) – was having open borders to allow immigrants to settle in the US at will, receiving the same rights and privileges as citizen-taxpayers, but without having to seek citizenship or meet entry criteria. The people most supportive were those under 30 years of age (39% embraced the idea) and those who are liberal on social and fiscal matters (40%). The segment least supportive were SAGE Cons – the acronym for Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians – from which just 1% backed the plan.

The second possibility that failed to achieve lift-off was to shift the United States from a democracy based on capitalism to a democracy based on socialism. Only 27% of adults supported that concept. The people most supportive were those under the age of 50 (35% backed the plan) and those who qualified as liberals (47% were supportive). The group least likely to put their weight behind turning socialist was, not surprisingly, SAGE Cons. Again, just 1% of that segment got behind the idea.

The third alternative that failed to get a majority of support from any population segment was to change the nation’s legal system to prevent anyone from being able to sue anyone else for any reason. While there have been many who have criticized the U.S. for being too litigious, this means of limiting frivolous lawsuits was backed by only one-third of all adults (34%). However, that level of support was relatively consistent across most of the population subgroups evaluated. There was slightly higher-than-average support found among people aged 30 to 49 (43%), and slightly lower support registered among adults with a biblical worldview (27%) and adults aligned with a non-Christian faith (27%).

A Majority of Some Groups Approve

There were four change proposals tested that were rejected by the aggregate adult population but which garnered appeal among majorities of certain subgroups.

A plurality of Americans (47%) actually supported the notion of placing restrictions on all forms of media so that there is less sexuality, profanity, and violence in entertainment media. (Forty-four percent opposed the idea.) The bulk of the support for that step, generated by majorities of each segment, was from Integrated Disciples (i.e. 78% of the adults who have a biblical worldview), SAGE Cons (77%), conservatives (64%), born again Christians (63%), people 65 or older (60%), and adults who describe themselves as Christian (54%). The groups most firmly opposed to the idea included religious Skeptics (just 24% supported the proposal) and political liberals (35% support).

More than four out of ten adults (42%) backed the idea of limiting the activity of the US military to protecting our domestic land, removing our military from other nations and prohibiting its involvement in conflicts beyond American borders. That plan was rejected by 46% of the public. The barest of majorities (51%) from two segments – people who prefer socialism to capitalism, and religious Skeptics – supported that option. Half of the adults in the 30-to-49 age group (50%) also backed the idea. The most prolific opponents were Integrated Disciples (just 27% expressed support), people 65 or older (27%), and SAGE Con (29%).

A third idea that fell flat was eliminating all moral judgments, other than those involving physical or financial harm, from all laws and public policies, leaving those decisions solely up to each individual. This would include laws and policies such as those related (but not limited) to divorce, polygamy, abortion, marriage, substance use, and pornography. That proposal was supported by 37% and rejected by 48%. A majority of liberals (54%) endorsed the plan while the smallest levels of support came from SAGE Cons (6%) and Integrated Disciples (10%).

The final change alternative that was generally rejected but found pockets of significant support was to institute traditional moral perspectives – such as defining marriage as between a man and woman, prohibiting cohabitation, outlawing abortion, penalizing public drunkenness, and limiting divorce – as the foundation of the government’s moral policies. In this case, 37% of adults supported the plan and 52% rejected it. The greatest backing came from SAGE Cons (85%), Integrated Disciples (78%), conservatives (60%), and born again Christians (53%). The least support was found among religious Skeptics (13%).

Americans Agree on This One

That left one of the eight proposals explored in the survey alive – an idea that a small majority of adults agreed to support. Overall 54% said they favored a shift of much of the federal government’s authority and responsibility to state and local governments. Only one-third of the nation (33%) would oppose that action. (The remaining 13% did not know what side to choose.) The most widespread support was found among SAGE Cons (96%), conservatives (69%), Trump voters (67%), adults 65 or older (61%), Integrated Disciples (59%), and born again Christians (57%). The least support was evident among blacks (42%), Clinton voters (43%), liberals (49%), and LGBT individuals (49%).

 

Thoughts on the Research

George Barna, who conducted the research through the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI), noted that it may take a number of these kinds of exploratory surveys to identify a group of proposals for change that Americans can get behind – and that based on the level of political polarization currently present very few of those proposals are likely get a “super-majority” backing from the public.

Barna also pointed out that while the media have stereotyped conservatives as being people who are “for nothing, against everything,” the research suggests that it is just the opposite.

“We tested four ideas that are widely thought to be favored by conservatives and four that are generally deemed appealing to liberals. The final numbers, however, showed that while a majority of conservatives did support three of the four right-leaning proposals, a majority of liberals backed only one of the four left-leaning ideas,” noted the researcher. “You cannot make sweeping judgments based on just eight ideas that are evaluated in a single survey. However, this study raises the possibility that the popular media-driven narrative claiming that conservatives are against everything while liberals are more thoughtful about and accepting of change proposals is a bunch of nonsense.”

About the Research

The research described in this report is drawn from two nationwide online surveys. The first is known as FullView™ which is a survey with a randomly-selected sample size of 1,000 adults, age 18 or older, whose demographic profile that reflects that of the adult population. That study was conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute from March 22 through 29, 2017. The other is known as RightView™, which is a longitudinal study among people who are qualified as SAGE Cons. The current survey among them involved interviews with 900 SAGE Cons, conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute during April 2017.

In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They constitute roughly 10% of the adult population.

Integrated Disciples are people who meet the biblical worldview criteria pioneered in ACFI’s Worldview Measurement Project. That metric is based upon 20 questions about core spiritual beliefs and 20 questions assessing behavior. The 40 data points are then evaluated in relation to biblical content and the number of biblically consistent answers is tallied for each respondent. Those who answered 80% or more of the questions in accordance with biblical principles are categorized as “Integrated Disciples” – that is, people who are designated as having a biblical worldview based on integrating their beliefs and behavior into a lifestyle that reflects foundational biblical principles. The survey of the general public revealed that 10% of American adults currently have a biblical worldview and thus are classified as Integrated Disciples.

The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians to engage in cultural transformation in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual political candidates or parties.

Additional information about this study and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com. To receive a free copy of the weekly research reports produced by ACFI, visit the website and register for the American Culture Review newsletter.

LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES FIND GROUNDS FOR AGREEMENT

The standout recollection from the 2016 election season may well be the rancor displayed between people who stood on opposing ends of the political continuum. It was abundantly and consistently obvious that America’s conservatives and liberals rarely agreed with each other. However, a new nationwide survey by the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) shows that those opposing groups are of one mind regarding several specific aspects of America’s future.

Society is Not Healthy

The national sample of 1,000 adults by ACFI found that adults on both sides of the ideological divide concurred that American society is not healthy these days. Just one out of every five adults (22%) said our society is healthy: 8% believed it is getting healthier, 6% said it is healthy but not getting better or worse, and 8% said it is healthy but on the decline. The same proportion – one out of five (22%) – believed society is equally healthy and unhealthy. About half of the nation, though, contended that our society is unhealthy. That was divided into those who said it is unhealthy but improving (13%); unhealthy and not changing (13%); and unhealthy and getting worse (23%). The remaining 7% did not know how to assess American society.

Liberals and conservatives were very similar in their perspectives. Among conservatives, 21% said society is currently healthy, 20% said it is equally healthy and unhealthy, and 57% said it is unhealthy. Among liberals, 22% called society healthy, 23% said it is both healthy and unhealthy, and 53% described it as unhealthy.

Adults who are devoutly Christian and politically conservative were the most likely of all segments to cite our society as unhealthy. Among Integrated Disciples – i.e., adults who have a biblical worldview – 71% believe US society is presently unhealthy, far beyond the 48% of those who have some other worldview who see American society an unhealthy. Similarly, SAGE Cons – i.e., Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians – are far more likely than other adults to view society as unhealthy (68% versus 47%, respectively).

Social Transition Time

Three out of four adults would like to see America transition from its current condition into a different society. That desire is divided into 50% who believe such a shift is “necessary” and 24% who say the shift is “preferable but not necessary.” That left only 10% who say such a transition is “not necessary” with one-sixth of the public (16%) not sure.

Several groups emerged as those that are most eager for a different type of society to emerge. Those with the highest numbers suggesting that societal change is necessary included Integrated Disciples (62%), SAGE Cons (60%), born again Christians (56%), and people in the 30-to-64 age bracket (53%).

And once again, conservatives and liberals shared the same view – although perhaps not for the same reasons or with the same end result in mind. Overall, 57% of each of those ideological segments argued that a different type of American society is necessary.

Interestingly, the survey also revealed that people’s preferred news medium was related to their view about society’s best future. Those who rely upon radio as their primary news source were most likely to see such change as necessary (61%), followed by people who get their news online (55%), and then by people who rely upon television for their news (50%). The people who were least likely to vie for a renewed society tended to rely upon print media – newspapers and magazines – for their news. The survey also discovered that the segment most likely to say social change is either necessary or preferable were those who get the bulk of their news online (83%).

Profiling the Culture

Conservatives – especially Christians who are conservative – are generally disgruntled over the state of society. While the survey indicated that the election of Donald Trump has revived optimism among a small share of them, the group generally believes that there is a long way to go before America is healthy again. For instance, a companion survey conducted by ACFI found that nine out of ten SAGE Cons (94%) admitted that they are either “not too satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with the state of American culture these days.

When given 18 adjectives that could be used to describe American culture today, the responses painted a clear portrait of the nation as they see it.

More than nine out of every ten SAGE Cons felt that our culture is fast-paced (mentioned by 97%); self-indulgent (96%); selfish (94%); and corrupt (92%). More than eight out of ten SAGE Cons also said American culture is decadent (88%); intolerant (83%); and mean-spirited (82%).

A minority of the SAGE Con population believes that American culture is celebrative (40%); intellectual (29%); or friendly (20%). No more than one out of every eight of them contend that our culture is affirming (12%), emotionally safe (10%); transparent (8%); spiritual (8%); family-friendly (6%); or uplifting (3%). The lowest-rated attribute was describing American culture as biblical; only 2% embraced that description.

Be the Change?

Among SAGE Cons, seven out of ten adults (69%) said they are either “extremely interested” or “very interested” in being involved in activities designed to produce positive cultural transformation in America. An additional 26% said they are “somewhat interested.” As a testimony to how desperate SAGE Cons are for cultural change, a mere 4% said they are “not too interested” or “not at all interested” in facilitating positive cultural transformation.

What types of entities have been serving as models and conduits for such positive movement? The types of organizations offered as those responsible for the greatest degree of positive change in 2016 were churches (listed by 47%); families (19%); and non-profit organizations (14%).

On the other hand, the types of organizations viewed as least productive in bringing about positive cultural change were the news media (listed by 34%); the federal government (27%); and the arts and entertainment media (17%).

The types of entities that were generally considered to not be significantly involved in cultural change, for better or worse, included large and small business, public schools, state and local governments, the courts, the healthcare industry, and the military.

Igniting the Match

George Barna, who directed the research through the American Culture & Faith Institute, drew several conclusions from the data.

“Christian conservatives want to see things happen now,” the veteran researcher reflected. “They believe cultural conditions are abysmal and that the recent election has provided a small window of opportunity and some momentum to enable positive changes to take place in America. They seem to be expecting churches and non-profit organizations, in particular, to step up and initiate significant courses of social action.”

Barna also took issue with some of the perceptions of SAGE Cons regarding recent social change. “It would be difficult to defend the widespread notion that businesses, the public schools, state and local governments, and the courts have little or no impact on the direction and nature of American society,” the long-time cultural analyst stated. “While it is true that those entities receive comparatively little attention in the media regarding the role they play in shaping society, more objective analyses of how things work in our culture suggest those players cannot be ignored.

“Research consistently indicates that people are unaware of who has influence on their thinking and behavior,” Barna continued. “When asked to describe such influence, people often rely upon cultural stereotypes and personal assumptions without the benefit of objective, large-scale, data-based analyses. To make significant and positive changes in the world you need a realistic understanding of who has power and influence, and who is responsible for determining the direction and nature of society as it exists today. You cannot effectively change what you don’t understand, and you are unlikely to confront that which is culturally invisible. For conservative change agents to facilitate meaningful progress, educating their supporters about how things really work within our society is one of their most serious challenges.”

About the Research

The research described in this report is drawn from two national public opinion studies conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI).

The first of those is the FullView™ surveys, which are monthly, online studies among a nationwide random sample of adults. The survey referred to in this report was conducted March 22-29, 2017, with 1,000 respondents age 18 or older whose demographic profile reflects that of the United States.

The second piece of research utilized for this report is part of the RightView™ longitudinal survey, a national study undertaken among spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives – a segment known as SAGE Cons. The new national survey conducted for this report had a sample size of 650 qualified adults and was conducted online by the American Culture & Faith Institute during January 2017.

In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 8% to 10% of the national adult population, which constitutes a segment of some 20 to 25 million individuals.

The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians to engage in cultural transformation in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual political candidates or parties.

Additional information about this study and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com. To receive a free copy of the weekly research reports produced by ACFI, visit the website and register for the American Culture Review newsletter.

ADULTS SATISFIED WITH RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BUT NOT MUCH ELSE

Ongoing studies by the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) show that Americans are generally dissatisfied with a variety of aspects of life in the U.S. In addition to their disenchantment with the morals and values of most Americans, adults also have widespread concerns about living conditions and circumstances in the country.

Adults Are Concerned

ACFI previously reported survey data showing that only a minority of adults feel satisfied with the way things are going in the United States these days (40%) or believe the country is headed in the right direction (37%). (See Mixed Views on Morals and Values) A deeper examination of peoples’ perceptions revealed that most adults believe the morals and values of Americans are on the decline.

Happy with Religious Freedom

Of the ten aspects of life examined for this report, the only one about which a majority of adults feel satisfied is with the degree of religious freedom available in the U.S. these days. Two out of every three adults (66%) is satisfied with the state of America’s religious freedom. Adults in their seventies or older (74%), Protestants (73%), and SAGE Cons (72%) were the types of people most satisfied with the religious freedom available in the country today. The population segments least likely to be satisfied were religious Skeptics (54%), Millennials (57%), and people who associate with non-Christian faiths (57%).

Almost half of the survey respondents (47%) indicated that they were satisfied with the level of devotion that Christians have to their faith. Satisfaction levels were highest among those who consider themselves to be either Protestant (60%) or Catholic (57%); those whose beliefs qualify them as born again Christians (57%); and SAGE Cons – the Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians (57%). Those who were least impressed by the devotion of Christians to their faith included Skeptics (22%), people associated with other faiths (37%), and adults under the age of 50 (39%).

Lots of Concerns

The lowest levels of satisfaction with life conditions were discovered in relation to the performance of federal government officials (23%) and race relations (26%).

Roughly one-third of Americans expressed their satisfaction with the objectivity displayed by the mainstream news media (37%); the quality of public school education (36%); access to financial opportunities for all people (34%); and the quality of parenting provided by the parents of young children (33%).

About four out of every ten adults indicated that they were satisfied with the degree of acceptance and tolerance found on college campuses (42%). A similar proportion (39%) was satisfied with the strength and reliability of marriages.

General Sense of Malaise

The survey pointed out that the people who have the lowest levels of satisfaction, across all of the conditions tested, were those who possess a biblical worldview. This group, labeled by ACFI as Integrated Disciples – people who have integrated their religious beliefs into a lifestyle that consistently reflects those beliefs – was by far the segment most disappointed in relation to the 18 examples of morals, values, lifestyles, and life elements studied in the research. Integrated Disciples represent 10% of the adult population.

Skeptics – individuals who are atheist, agnostic, or have no religious inclinations – were the second-least satisfied segment of the population. Skeptics have been one of the fastest-growing groups in the population, currently comprising about 20% of all adults. Spiritually, Skeptics and Integrated Disciples reside at opposite ends of the theological spectrum but tend to demonstrate the greatest intensity in support of their beliefs.

A group that is largely comprised of Integrated Disciples – namely, SAGE Cons – also emerged as largely dissatisfied with the state of American life. SAGE Cons were the third most dissatisfied niche.

At the other end of the satisfaction scale – i.e., people who were the most satisfied with the various aspects of American life – were Catholics, liberals, and non-whites. The survey also found that people under 50 years of age were, on average, more likely than their elders to express satisfaction with the life elements tested in the survey.

Considering peoples’ political ideology, the survey revealed that liberals had a much higher average satisfaction score than did conservatives – even though liberals were statistically more satisfied in relation to only five of the 18 conditions tested and conservatives were more satisfied regarding two of the conditions. The large gap in average satisfaction between the two opposing political segments was attributable to how much more satisfied liberals were with current family conditions (marital stability and the quality of parenting), mainstream news media objectivity, levels of tolerance and acceptance on college campuses, and the quality of public school education.

Passion Has Its Costs

George Barna, the Executive Director of the American Culture and Faith Institute and the creator of the research, spoke about the results.

“The outcomes show that the people who hold the most consistent and passionate views about how to live are the ones least satisfied with the realities of contemporary American life. In contrast, the people who tend to have a more laissez faire or ambivalent approach to life tended to be more sanguine about the state of our culture these days.

“The survey also underscored the influence of faith on peoples’ views about society,” Barna continued. “Those who take their faith most seriously and attempt to live in concert with their beliefs – whether those be Christian, non-Christian, or anti-religious in nature – are the most likely to be frustrated by the choices that are most common in our society. There is a price to pay for having a clear and passionate set of beliefs in a culture that tends to prize moderation and indiscriminant tolerance.”

Barna also commented on one specific finding.

“Some might be shocked to see that Americans are generally pleased with the level of religious freedom experienced in the United States these days. This insight became evident during the course of the 2016 election campaign, where despite the earnest and diligent efforts of many religious organizations, religious freedom gained little traction as a campaign issue,” the pollster explained. “Organizations that believe many of our religious liberties are in jeopardy are fighting an uphill battle to persuade Christians, in particular, that such is the case. Often we see that Americans remain oblivious to an existing threat until that threat personally affects them.

“In that regard, one of the most shocking results was finding that nearly three-quarters of all SAGE Cons are satisfied with the current state of religious freedom,” the researcher concluded. “They are a group that is both spiritually and politically active, but they have apparently failed to connect the dots between their fights for a more moral nation and the legal battles continually raging around moral issues and related lifestyle implications concerning issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, transgender rights, and school choice. Despite their attentiveness to the daily news, they seem to be unaware of the continual and strategic assault against their ability to practice and promote their faith of choice.”

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About the Research

The research described in this report is part of the FullView™ surveys, which are monthly public opinion studies conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI) among a nationwide random sample of adults. This online survey was conducted March 22-29, 2017, with 1,000 respondents age 18 or older whose demographic profile reflects that of the United States.

The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians to engage in cultural transformation in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual political candidates or parties.

Additional information about this study and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com. To receive a free copy of the weekly research reports produced by ACFI, visit the website and register for the American Culture Review newsletter.