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Barna Poll: 33 Percent of Adults Agree with Declaring America a "Christian Nation"

"This certainly indicates that given effective leadership, American Christianity could play a larger role in shaping the norms of our culture in the future"
( [email protected] ) Jul 31, 2004 04:23 PM EDT

Some 33 percent of Americans would support declaring Christianity as the official faith of the United States -- at least, according to a new research released on July 26, 2004. The Ventura based Barna Group, widely known for its studies on Christian America, “explored the boundaries of how far adults are willing to inject the Christian faith into the nation’s culture”. The results showed that an overwhelming majority of adults – including non-Christian adults – preferred maintaining the traditional Christian symbols and values in the American system.

The first question pertained to the controversial Ten Commandments monuments across America. In recent years, ten commandment monuments shown on public squares were deemed “unconstitutional” and were removed. The best known of theses monuments is the 2-ton statue that once sat in the rotunda of the Alabama state courthouse. Ultimately, after several court cases that deemed the monument unconstitutional and refusals to abide to the verdicts, both the monument and Roy Moore - the chief justice who placed the monument in the rotunda at his own expense - were taken out of the courthouse. Currently, the monument is on a cross-country road trip, where tens of thousands are expected to gather across the nation to express their support for Moore and his monument.

The survey found the support for this monument was widespread in American adults. Only 18 percent of those surveyed supported “removing signs that list the Ten Commandments from government buildings” while 79 percent rejected the policy; 60 percent of these were “strongly opposed” to removing the signs.

Barna arranged the responses by faith segments, and found that, with an exception of atheists and agnostics, all groups opposed the policy. Those in greatest opposition to the verdicts to take down the Ten Commandments were evangelicals: “Less than one-half of one percent of evangelicals” supported the elimination. Some 6% of Protestants, 18% of Catholics and 32% of non-Christian Americans said they supported the policy.

The second question asked whether the phrase “In God We Trust” should remain on the nation’s currency. Overall, 13% of all Americans favored eliminating the phrase while 84% opposed it; 72% strongly opposed the change.

Barna found that by faith groups, only 1% of evangelicals, 4% of non-evangelical born again Christians, 4% of Protestants and 15% of Catholics supported the idea.

In a similar question, Barna asked whether the “the phrase ‘one nation, under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance” should be removed from the Pledge of allegiance. Once again, only 15% of all Americans said they would support the removal while 84% disagreed.

Some 4% of evangelicals, 6% of non-evangelical born again Christians, 13% of general Christians, 24% of non Christians and 40% of Atheists and Agnostics said they would side with removing the phrase.

The next question Barna asked was concerning public education: should public schools teach Creationism in the classrooms? Currently, thousands of public schools ban creationism from being taught, and the survey found that most Americans are “dismayed by that point of view”.

Some 59% of Americans said they would support teaching Creationism while only 38% said they would remove the biblical teaching from the school curriculum. Breaking it down into faith groups, some 86% of evangelical, 70% of non-evangelical born again Christians and 60% of general Christians supported the teaching.

In regards to allowing the use of profanity on broadcast television, only 15% of adults said it would be appropriate to allow the F-word to be broadcasted; 83 percent of Americans said the F-word is inappropriate. Again, evangelicals were the lead opponents of profane language: only 6 percent consented to permitting the broadcast. Next in line were non-evangelical born again adults, 8% of whom favored the word. 21% of non-Christian adults and 35% of atheists said they were comfortable with the word being broadcasted.

The last question was the only one in which a majority of Americans expressed opposition. Barna asked whether “a constitutional amendment to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States” should be supported. While Americans generally opposed the notion (66%), a surprising 32% of those polled said they would support it.

In terms of faith-based segments, some 66% of evangelicals and 53% of non-evangelical born again adults said they would support the amendment. Other faith-segments overwhelmingly rejected the notion: 72% of notional Christians, 77% of people from different faiths and 91% of atheists said they oppose such an amendment.

Upon releasing the findings, George Barna, the Directing Leader of the Barna Group, commented that the “intensity” of a person’s faith makes all the difference in matters of public policy.

“Most Americans are on the same wavelength when it comes to faith and matters of public policy,” said Barna. “Evangelicals, however, also emerged as the group most fervently desirous of integrating a Christian perspective into the basic fabric of American life. The intensity of their commitment to their faith makes them a cultural lightning rod and an easy target for the media. Their depth of commitment often earns them the label ‘extremist’ related to anything pertaining to faith and morality.”

Barna also commented on the widespread support for declaring Christianity as the official faith.

“Almost 70 million adults favor such an amendment. That is a huge vote of confidence in the Christian faith – and a tacit statement about people’ concerns regarding the direction and lukewarm spirituality of the nation. If nothing else, this certainly indicates that given effective leadership, American Christianity could play a larger role in shaping the norms of our culture in the future,” said Barna.

The Barna Group conducted the survey during the last week of May by randomly selecting 1,618 American adults for questioning. The maximum margin of sampling error is at ±2.4.

The Barna Group, Ltd., and its research division (The Barna Research Group), is an independent cultural analysis and strategic consulting firm located in Ventura, California. Since 1984, it has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.