Over four in 10 American Christians believe the Bible is “ambiguous” on abortion, according to the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University.
The findings, released Tuesday, are part of the CRC's American Worldview Inventory 2020 survey.
Conducted by CRC Director of Research George Barna, a noted evangelical pollster, the report found that 44% of respondents said they believe the Bible “is ambiguous in its teaching about abortion,” while 34% said “abortion is morally acceptable if it spares the mother from financial or emotional discomfort or hardship.”
Barna said in a statement that the findings on opinions about abortion were part of a broader departure from “biblical truth” by self-identified American Christians.
“The irony of the reshaping of the spiritual landscape in America is that it represents a post-Christian reformation driven by people seeking to retain a Christian identity,” said Barna.
“Unfortunately, the theology of this reformation is being driven by American culture rather than biblical truth.”
The report also found that 34% of self-identified Christians reject the idea that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman and that 40% accept lying as morally acceptable if it advances personal interests or protect one’s reputation.
Data for the CRC report drew from a survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted in January, with an approximate margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
There has been much debate over whether the Bible prohibits abortion.
The apologetics website Got Questions explains that “there are numerous teachings in Scripture that make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion is.”
“Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb,” stated the site.
“Exodus 21:22-25 prescribes the same penalty—death—for someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as for someone who commits murder. This clearly indicates that God considers a baby in the womb to be just as much of a human being as a full-grown adult.”
Pro-abortion advocates, such as Joyce Arthur of the Pro-Choice Action Network, have argued that “the Bible clearly states that life and personhood begins with ‘breath.’” This argument has appeared on abortion clinic websites and promotional materials in response to religious objections to abortion.
“The Hebrew word for human being or living soul is nephesh, which is also the word for ‘breathing.’ Nephesh occurs over 700 times in the Bible as the identifying factor in human life,” Arthur wrote in a piece first published in 1989.
“Obviously, fetuses do not [breathe] and therefore cannot be considered as human beings according to the Bible.”
Since March, the CRC has been releasing reports from the American Worldview Inventory 2020, focusing on different worldview topics and how self-identified Christians perceive them.
For example, a report released on Aug. 19 found that 98% of respondents said they “prefer socialism over capitalism” and did not subscribe to a biblical worldview.
By contrast, 83% of those who hold a biblical worldview responded that they supported “capitalism over socialism” and also a “limited view of the size and scope of government.”
Another report, released in June, found that 39% said they agreed with the statement “human life is sacred,” while 69% of respondents said people were “basically good.” The researchers noted that it was a decline of "14 percentage points from 83% of Americans in the past 30 years." They hailed it as a "possible bright spot" in the study, showing that fewer people were believing a non-biblical view of humanity.
The findings also revealed that 56% of Americans believe that "human beings are created by God, and made in His image, but are fallen and in need of redemption."