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Most Americans are 'world citizens' with secular views: Cultural Research Center study

Less than half say religious freedom, hard work are core values

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A new study examining the correlation between an individual’s level of religiosity and their core values reveals that just 6% of Americans are “integrated disciples,” meaning those who possess a biblical worldview, while an overwhelming majority are classified as “world citizens,” identified as those who haven't accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University released the sixth installment of its America’s Values Study on Tuesday. The research, conducted in conjunction with Americas One, asked participants to say whether they consider each item on a pre-selected list of 48 principles as being one of their core values.

The research categorized the adults sampled in CRC’s American Worldview Inventory, described as an “annual tracking study of adults conducted to examine the worldview of adults each year” into three categories: “Integrated Disciples, defined as those who possess a biblical worldview; Emergent Followers, who lean toward a biblical worldview but do not have a fully defined biblical worldview in place; and World Citizens, who lack all or most of the elements that typically define a biblical worldview.” 

World citizens constituted the overwhelming majority (75%) of respondents, followed by emergent followers (19%), and integrated disciples (6%). George Barna, director of research at the CRC, provided Christian leaders with advice on converting emergent followers into integrated disciples.

“People grow spiritually under specific conditions and in response to specific stimuli. The more we can facilitate genuine relationships between Integrated Disciples and Emergent Followers, the better the chance of enabling spiritual growth among the latter,” he said. “That growth would be based upon frequent time spent together, honest dialogue, mutual accountability, and consistent behavioral modeling by Integrated Disciples. Observation and discussions about our values are terrific tools to include in that process.”

Majorities of all three groups ranked family, personal independence and justice as the most important core values they subscribe to. However, much higher shares of integrated disciples (99%) and emergent followers (95%) adopted family as one of their core values than world citizens (63%).

Similarly, a much larger share of integrated disciples (89%) and emergent followers (80%) list personal independence as one of their most important core values compared to 64% of world citizens. This disparity extends to the core value of justice, adopted by 90% of integrated disciples, 81% of emergent followers and 63% of world citizens. Overall, supermajorities of Americans embrace the core values of family (80%), personal independence (69%) and justice (68%).

On the other hand, sizable shares of world citizens were much more likely than their more religious counterparts to embrace a series of values defined in the research as the preferred goals of political “progressives.” Nearly half of world citizens (48%) prioritize “cultural diversity” as a core value compared to 16% of integrated disciples and 40% of emergent followers.

While 31% of world citizens identifying “unconstrained sex” as one of their core values, significantly smaller shares of integrated disciples (5%) and emergent followers (15%) said the same. Additionally, twice as many world citizens (37%) put a premium on “uncensored entertainment” than emergent followers (19%), with just 11% of integrated disciples listing it as one of their most cherished values.

Although noticeable shares of world citizens subscribe to values considered politically progressive, even more significant proportions of integrated disciples have core values they subscribe to that extend beyond the consensus support for family, personal independence and justice. Overwhelming majorities of integrated disciples cited their Christian faith (97%), character (96%), religious freedom (96%), purpose/meaning in life (91%), hard work (90%), kindness (90%), humility (85%), patriotism (84%) and civic duty (82%) as their core values.

Other core values embraced by most integrated disciples include financial thrift and cautiousness (82%), simple lifestyle (81%), absolute moral truth (77%) and moderation (76%). By contrast, less than half of world citizens view religious freedom (47%), character (44%), hard work (41%), financial thrift/caution (37%), maintaining a simple lifestyle (36%), humility (34%), civic duty (31%) and their Christian faith (24%) as core values. 

The research pointed to the disparity in values between integrated disciples and world citizens as evidence of “the culture war gripping America.” Noting that world citizens “represent more than three-quarters of all people who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior” and that “most non-Christians in America tell us they are unimpressed with the arguments about Christianity they have heard from believers,” Barna offered advice as to how Christians can work to win over the skeptics. 

“Perhaps if Christian leaders were less focused on transmitting information about their faith than building relationships with outsiders, non-believers would be more interested in Christianity,” Barna suggested. “Focusing on building relationships would enable them to demonstrate biblical truths and share core values in those truths. Dialogue regarding core values could become a pathway to a deeper spiritual conversation about the source of our values and their influence on our behavior.”

Conducted in 2022, the America’s Values Study is based on responses from 3,793 adults. The annual American Worldview Inventory is based on the responses of 2,000 adults. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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