More Youth Have Negative Views of Christianity
Only 16 percent of non-Christians in their late teens and 20s say they have a good impression of Christianity, and one of the most frequent criticisms is that the church has made homosexuality a bigger sin than anything else, according to a recent study by The Barna Group.
A "growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment" has caused sixteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds to "exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations when they were at the same stage of life," Barna said. In fact, the research indicated the age group is "more skeptical of and resistant to Christianity than were people of the same age just a decade ago."
Common negative perceptions that today's youth have, Barna said, are that Christianity is judgmental (87 percent), hypocritical (85 percent), old-fashioned (78 percent), and too involved in politics (75 percent).
"Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is 'anti-homosexual,'" Barna said in a September 24 news release. "Overall, 91 percent of young non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.
"One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a 'bigger sin' than anything else," the news release said. "Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians."
Barna found that youth who hold such opinions of Christians actually are more connected to Christianity than some might think. The typical non-Christians in the survey said they have five friends who are Christians, more than four out of five have attended a Christian church for at least six months in the past, and half have considered becoming a Christian.
Pastors backed up Barna's findings about the declining image of the nation's most popular religion as half of those asked said "ministry is more difficult than ever before because people are increasingly hostile and negative toward Christianity."
Majority Thinks U.S. is Christian Nation
Despite the report of a growing hostility toward Christianity, a poll conducted by the First Amendment Center found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation.
The survey — conducted annually by the non-partisan educational group — measures attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech, and the press. It found that three out of four people who identify themselves as evangelical or Republican believe the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, and about half of Democrats and independents agree.
The results reported by USA Today indicate that 58 percent of Americans believe teachers in public schools should be allowed to lead prayers, representing an increase from 2005 when 52 percent supported such prayers.
Furthermore, 43 percent of respondents said public schools should be allowed to re-enact Nativity scenes with Christian music, compared to 36 percent in 2005.
Half of the 1,003 Americans surveyed in August agree that teachers should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text in history class, and 80 percent said it was OK to use the Bible as literature in English class.