Home Christian News Barna: This Is the Largest Generation Gap We’ve Seen in 7 Decades

Barna: This Is the Largest Generation Gap We’ve Seen in 7 Decades

George Barna

According to a new study about generational beliefs, America “is at war with itself.” That’s how study author George Barna sums up what he calls “deeply troubling” results of the “American Worldview Inventory 2020,” released this week from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University.

The biggest takeaways from the results? Millennials and their predecessors differ more now than they have during the past seven decades. Based on this new research, young adults have “radically different” beliefs and values than their parents and grandparents in three categories: respect for others, interest in faith, and enthusiasm for America.

Study Reveals Widening Faith Gap

The inventory, which measured feedback from 2,000 U.S. adults back in January, shows significant differences in the beliefs of Millennials (ages 18 to 36) and Baby Boomers (ages 56-74) in almost every variable studied.

Although 61 percent of Millennials identify as Christians, their other responses don’t mesh with that label. Compared to Boomers, Millennials are 28 percentage points less likely to say they follow the Golden Rule, twice as likely to say they respect only people who hold similar beliefs as them, less than half as likely to say life is sacred, and 28 percentage points more likely to cling to revenge.

In what Barna calls a “robust rejection of the Christian faith,” research shows that Millennials are disengaging from traditional Christianity. They’re less likely to believe in absolute moral truth, view the Bible as a reliable moral guide, be committed to practicing their faith, pray and worship during a typical week, confess their sins, believe that God created humans in his image, and believe that God loves them unconditionally.

By contrast, Millennials are more likely to wonder if God is really involved in their life and more likely to believe that having faith matters more than which faith they have. 

George Barna: ‘America is losing its spiritual unity’

“The significantly divergent worldview perspectives and applications of the four generations—especially how different the Millennials are from their predecessors—suggests a nation that is at war with itself to adopt new values, lifestyles, and a new identity,” says Barna. “There is a war for worldview dominance taking place in America. But, as the Scriptures remind us, a nation at war with itself cannot persist.”

This research underscores that “America is losing its spiritual unity at a rapid pace,” says Barna. “Even a rudimentary understanding of the foundations of the American republic reminds us that unless the United States maintains spiritual unity under the hand of God, we will not be able to sustain the freedoms that have made this nation unique and desirable. The heart and soul of the nation will pursue other gods and beliefs to our demise as a nation.”

When a country’s largest—and most influential—generation is indifferent toward that country’s well-being, Barna warns, we’re “flirting with cultural decline.”

Len Munsil, president of Arizona Christian University, says the results confirm deep concerns about today’s young adults. “We’ve always sensed that the culture has been pulling the next generation away from biblical values and truths many were raised with,” he says. “This study is more confirmation and illustrates the necessity of preparing young Christians with a heart to transform their generation with biblical truth.”

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Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 28 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.