Disturbing Trends in America's Belief in God

It's the time of year when we many will make new goals and set firm resolutions. Sometimes that recommitment means seeking a deeper relationship with God in the New Year. But a new poll finds that goal is cold comfort to those who don't believe in God in the first place.

A new Harris poll indicates that the majority of Americans believe that God is real. Seventy-five percent would call themselves believers, which is good news but the bad news is that in years past, 82 percent believed.

In November of last year, Harris polled over 2200 adults and the results are none too positive. Other key findings reveal steadfast erosion in the core tenants of orthodox Christianity.

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For example, according to

  • 72 percent believe in miracles, down from 79 percent in 2005;
  • 68 percent believe in heaven, down from 75 percent;
  • 68 percent believe that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72 percent;
  • 65 percent believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent;
  • 64 percent believe in the survival of the soul after death, down from 69 percent;
  • 58 percent believe in the devil and hell, down from 62 percent;
  • 57 percent believe in the Virgin birth, down from 60 percent.

In every category, belief is waning with one glaring exception. The percentage of those who believe in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has risen from 42 percent to 47 percent. Forty-two percent believe in ghosts and around a third of those polled believe in UFO's, astrology, witches and reincarnation.

Other findings are that nearly half think the Bible is the "Word of God", a decline from the 2008 finding, 4 out of 10 think God is a male and only 37 percent think God controls what happens on earth. All of this adds up to some very troubling trends.

The Harris Poll released at the same time as a new Gallup poll, indicating more problems for the Church. According to this poll, a record number of Americans don't trust the clergy.

Gallup asked the respondents to rate the honesty and ethics of pastors and less than half responded positively – a mere 47 percent, the lowest number since 1977.

Ironically, clergy members ranked higher than newspaper and television reporters and members of Congress. The profession with the highest positive ranking was nurses with 82 percent, a position that group has retained since 1999 when they were first included in the poll.

So for those of us who are Christ-followers, what is our take-away from the polling data? First, it is a reminder that we were warned about this. "For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear." (2 Timothy 4:3)

But more importantly, it is a catalyst for recommitment to the Great Commission. The mandate to "go and tell" has never been greater. The day is coming when we will all stand before the Answer to the only polling question that ever really mattered. "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29)

May these recent polls quicken our hearts to 'proclaim the Good News' without blush or hesitation.

That's my opinion. I'm Janet Parshall.

Janet Parshall is the host of IN THE MARKET, a nationally syndicated radio program carried on the Moody Broadcasting Network.

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