Skip to comments.Survey: Catholics Adapt to Culture at Cost of Committed Faith
Posted on 07/10/2007 8:14:04 AM PDT by Between the Lines
A new Barna Group survey examined the largest religious group in the United States. With over 69 million adherents, the Catholic Church was found to be as mainstream as any people group in the nation, but much less committed to practicing their faith.
According to the survey released Monday, 68 percent of Catholics said their religious faith is very important in their life, which was also true among non-Catholic adults. But Catholics were only half as likely as others to say their faith is the highest priority in life. A majority identified family as their priority.
Only 44 percent of Catholics claimed to be "absolutely committed" to the Christian faith compared to 54 percent of the American adult population. Moreover, Catholics were less likely than average to look forward to discussing their religious views with other people, to attending church services, and to reading the Bible. However, Catholics were 16 percent more likely than average to attend a church service and 8 percent more likely to have prayed to God during the prior week.
The gap between Catholics and other Americans was also apparent in other faith-oriented behaviors. The study found that 67 percent of Catholics were less likely than the average to attend a Sunday school class; 20 percent were less likely to share their faith in Christ with someone who had different beliefs; 24 percent were less likely to say their religious faith has greatly transformed their life; and 36 percent were less likely to have an "active faith" (reading the Bible, praying and attending a church service).
Catholics differ substantially in spiritual beliefs from the typical views of Americans. They were significantly less likely to believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; half as likely to maintain that they have a responsibility to share their faith with others; more likely than average to say that Satan is not real, to believe that eternal salvation is earned, and to contend that Jesus Christ sinned while on earth.
The study also found the moral convictions of Catholics differ from that of non-Catholic Americans. Catholics were twice as likely to view pornographic content on the Internet and more likely to use profanity, to gamble, and to buy lottery tickets. But they were more likely to not say mean things about people behind their back and were more likely to recycle.
When it came to behaviors outside of faith and morals, Catholics were found to be strikingly similar to people aligned with other faith groups. Catholics were just as likely or similarly likely to adopt the terms "independent thinker," "seen as a leader," "loyal and reliable," "stressed out," and "clear about the meaning and purpose of my life."
The only difference was adopting the term "evangelical Christian." Catholics were 39 percent less likely to accept that label.
Although one out of every four Catholics is born again (based on their beliefs), making Catholics the second largest denominational grouping of born again Christians in the nation behind Baptists, they are 37 percent less likely to be born again than are adults not associated with the Catholic faith.
"The history of American Catholics is that of a pool of immigrants who have successfully blended into the native culture. They have done well at adapting to their surroundings and emerging to become a backbone of the community and the national economy," said George Barna, who directed the study.
Catholics have become a slightly more affluent group and the current Catholic population has a disproportionately low number of blacks, who make up one out of every seven Americans but only one out of every 25 Catholics, and high number of Hispanics, according to the Barna Group.
The study noted that while immigrant groups have a tendency to work hard to adapt to their new culture, the group often loses its religious distinctive, as in the case of American Catholics over the past century.
"Today, they are a large and vibrant group, but one that is faith-aware rather than faith-driven," the report stated.
American Catholics are more similar to non-Christians than Protestants are to the non-believers, the survey showed.
"[T]he cost of that struggle to achieve acceptance and legitimacy is that Catholics have largely lost touch with much of their substantive spiritual heritage," Barna stated. "They retain an appreciation for tradition and consistency, but have much less of a commitment to knowing and practicing the commands of Christ. For instance, the data show that some of their long-held distinctives, such as being champions of social justice, are no longer a defining facet of their community.
"The trail of Catholicism in America is a clear example of culture influencing faith more often than faith influencing culture."
Results from the study are based on telephone surveys with 4,014 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted between August 2006 and January 2007. Among those interviewed, 876 were self-identified Catholics.
Copyright © The Christian Post
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Why would we send our kids to sunday school when they can get the same thing in religion class at Catholic school?
We don’t HAVE Sunday school class!! What an idiot writer.
1 out of 4 are Born Again Catholics? There’s no such term.. This writer knows NOTHING.
This writer is so wrong on so many things.
I know someone who claims to be just that. She refers to herself as an "Evangelical Catholic." Her local priest doesn't seem to have any problem with that....
"Born again Christians" are 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. Respondents are not asked to describe themselves as "born again."
No such thing....except in Baptism.
Catholics are not Born Again Christians, even though the definition is the same.
Yikes! Screwtape is ahead on points!
to believe that eternal salvation is earned,
Double yikes! Are they sleepwalking?
and to contend that Jesus Christ sinned while on earth.
Okay, who are these people really?
I’m just telling you what I know.
I think the Priest has more authority on this than you do. After all, he represents Rome and you are a lay person.
Catholics are not Born Again Christians
It’s Barna talk. They mean something in particular within their articles when they use this term. It may not be the same thing you mean.
Many Catholic churches do have Sunday schools, though they may not be called Sunday school.
IMO the article is written from a evangelical POV, and suffers for it. But the survey results definitely reflect the varied beliefs of those Catholics that I know personally (not counting my FR Catholic friends), giving me reason to believe the study itself gets it right.
In Barna Research Group studies, born again Christians are not defined on the basis of characterizing themselves as “born again” but based upon their answers to two questions. The first is “have you ever made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in your life today?” If the respondent says “yes,” then they are asked a follow-up question about life after death. One of the seven perspectives a respondent may choose is “when I die, I will go to Heaven because I have confessed my sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior.” Individuals who answer “yes” to the first question and select this statement as their belief about their own salvation are then categorized as “born again.”
I doubt if ANY devout Catholics would agree. Ask your FR PRACTICING CATHOLIC friends.
Catholic “Sunday school”
Barna might call them Born AGain, but Catholics don’t.
Sorry.....never have heard of ONE Catholic Sunday school...this could be ANYTHING.
Yes, I realize that. I just posted so that it was clear what Barna was trying to say.
I don’t put a whole lot of stock into what they are saying though.
Being too lazy to go though the searched articles doesn't mean that they don't exist.
Again being too lazy to research the subject doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Are you a Catholic?
I have been Catholic all of my life and I come from a long line of Catholics, been to Churches all over the world and have NEVER heard of Sunday school for Catholics....NEVER.
I think I can mostly agree with you on this, with the exception of "inerrency/infallibility of scripture" issues. The Catholic Church doesn't promote that as vigorously as Protestant (and some Evangelical) churches do, to their shame.
Ask your FR PRACTICING CATHOLIC friends.
The problem with asking them is that they will tell me that A) only Real Genuinetm Catholics should be counted as Catholic, while simultaneously telling me that B) there are 68+ million Catholics living in the United States right now and that C) there are 33,000 "Protestant denominations" who all hold "mutually exclusive doctrines". Oh, and all Protestants read "Jack Chick" comics.
In short, my Catholic friends on FR have a tendency to exaggerate wildly (if not just make up numbers out of whole cloth) whenever it benefits their case. They are credulous to a fault when it comes to Protestantism, and (most of) their credibility with me is shot to zero. I rarely take them seriously about anything anymore. They are a myopic subset that thinks they have a better handle on Catholicism than their own bishops do.
I guess I should have made it clear that I was directing that to Suzy.
It's like jargon in a technical article, Suze. Jargon terms have specific definitions that might not be related to common usage of the same words. Born again has a particular definition within the "Barna universe" that it might not have outside that universe.
Well, we always used the term “Sunday School” for those religious education classes for public school children, generally scheduled for after the children’s Mass. Granted, for the past 20 or 30 years, the church bulletin refers to it as CCD. I still say “Sunday School” — that’s what it was when I went, and that’s what I called it when I taught it.
On a more serious note, how many folks of other religious denominations are in church worshiping God everyday? There were quite a few at noon Mass today, and probably even more at the 0800 Mass.
I go to a nondenominational church, but it is about as Southern Baptist as you can get. Our pastor even works for the SBC teaching church planting.
I was wondering where that question came from. I guess with so many liberal denominations adopting green issues environmentalism is becoming a matter of faith. Go figure.
CCD is different.
You mean it's not religious instruction for children?
I never heard of it before, but it seems there is curriculum available, so I’d have to say it is being done!
I checked the site at your link — churches using it include some in Canada and include Presbyterian churches, so that covers L.M. Montgomery! ;-)