Poll: 44% of Catholics 'committed' to faith
Posted on Aug 1, 2007 | by Michael Foust
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Forty-four percent of Catholics in America say they are "absolutely committed" to Christianity, according to a Barna Group poll that compared the beliefs of Catholics to those of the general population.
The survey showed that a larger percentage of all U.S. adults -- 54 percent -- say they are "absolutely committed" to the Christian faith.
The poll of 4,014 adults was conducted between August 2006 and January 2007 and found that 22 percent of Americans are self-identified Catholics. While that makes Catholicism the largest denomination in the country, the poll found that many Catholics have jettisoned core elements of Christianity. For instance, the survey, released in July, found that Catholics are:
-- 38 percent less likely than the average American to read their Bible.
-- 24 percent less likely to say their faith has greatly transformed their life.
-- 36 percent less likely to have an "active faith," defined as "reading the Bible, praying and attending a church service during the prior week."
Also, the average Catholic gives 17 percent less money than does the average American to churches.
However, the survey did find that Catholics are 16 percent more likely than the general population to have attended church the previous week and 8 percent more likely to have prayed to God. Nevertheless, the poll's results are quite telling, pollster George Barna said.
"The trail of Catholicism in America is a clear example of culture influencing faith more often than faith influencing culture," Barna said in a news release. "The faith of tens of millions of Catholics is affected by the prevailing culture more than by the central principles and teachings of the Bible."
The questions, Barna said, "raised fifty years ago about the political loyalties and social objectives of Catholics are no longer relevant in this society."
"Yet, the cost of that struggle to achieve acceptance and legitimacy is that Catholics have largely lost touch with much of their substantive spiritual heritage," he said. "They retain an appreciation for tradition and consistency, but have much less of a commitment to knowing and practicing the commands of Christ."
The survey also examined the moral behaviors of Catholics and found they were "notably more likely to not say mean things" about people and were more likely to recycle, but at the same time were more likely to gamble, purchase lottery tickets and use profanity. Catholics were as likely as the general population to get drunk.
Additionally, the survey found that one out of every four Catholics can be labeled "born-again." That is defined as people who "said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior."
With reporting by Erin Roach.