A new survey has discovered one area where Evangelicals and the “nones” agree: the decline of morality in America.
Over 80 percent of Americans admit concern over the decline of moral behavior in our country, according to findings released Tuesday (May 9) by LifeWay Research.
While only 19 percent of respondents disagreed the nation’s moral standards are slipping, Americans are conflicted on the source of morality.
“We are shifting very fast from a world where right and wrong didn’t change to a world where right and wrong are relative,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “We are not all on the same page when it comes to morality. And we haven’t reckoned with what that means.”
Despite overwhelming fears of moral decay, 63 percent of respondents said legislation is not the answer to encouraging citizens’ moral behavior.
Evangelicals aren’t so sure. The survey points out those who hold evangelical beliefs are more likely to agree (72 percent) too many laws encouraging moral behavior have been removed. Only 46 percent of Americans who don’t hold evangelical beliefs would agree.
Perhaps most insightful was the survey’s discovery of how Americans personally determine between right and wrong. Among the various factors that shape morality, the survey found:
- 48 percent said nothing specific/morality does not change
- 20 percent consider whether or not a person gets hurt
- 8 percent weigh the benefits versus the costs
- 7 percent consider the legality
- 2 percent determine whether they will get caught
- 2 percent question whether the majority of people agree
- 1 percent said whether an institution gets hurt
- Less than 1 percent determine if it causes embarrassment
“For those with evangelical beliefs, the Bible is the ultimate authority. It trumps everything. So it’s going to be the source for how they determine right from wrong.” McConnell said. “However, for Americans there is no most influential source of morality embraced by a majority.”
Among the number of factors given that shape an individual’s moral compass, 39 percent of respondents pointed to their parents’ influence. For 26 percent of Americans religious beliefs play a key role. Some 18 percent base their moral behavior on their personal feelings. A mere 3 percent listen to the media for moral guidance and only 2 percent are influenced by their teachers.