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Poll: 71 Percent Believe ‘Man Rather than God Should’ Determine ‘Right and Wrong’

Poll: 71 Percent Believe ‘Man Rather than God Should’ Determine ‘Right and Wrong’

A plurality of Americans believes that the nation’s basis for determining right and wrong should be “what you feel in your heart,” according to a new survey that listed the Bible as a distant second. 

The poll, released this week by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, found that 42 percent of U.S. adults chose “what you feel in your heart,” while 29 percent chose the Bible, and another 29 percent chose “majority rule.” Americans were asked to choose from those three possible answers in deciding what “America’s foundation for determining right and wrong should be.”

Put another way: 71 percent “now contend that man rather than God should be the judge of right and wrong,” according to a news release from the Cultural Research Center.

“Americans have become comfortable with the idea of being the arbiters of morality,” said George Barna director of the Cultural Research Center. “In the same way that most Americans now contend that there is no absolute moral truth, they also now believe that there is no divine guidance required or even available to define right and wrong.”

The poll found that Americans have conflicting views on morality. For example, 71 percent of U.S. adults say they support “traditional moral values.” Still, that question alone doesn’t tell the whole story, Barna said.

“If you consider the list of factors that are gaining acceptance as ‘traditional moral values,’ with the public unlikely to turn to churches or the Bible to define values such as integrity and justice, that responsibility is likely to fall on the shoulders of government,” Barna lamented. “Given how government leaders have been aggressively redefining other terms and concepts in recent years, recasting previously unthinkable behaviors as normative, one can barely imagine what our future moral code will look like with the government leading that redefinition process.”

The poll was part of the America's Values Study, commissioned by AmericasOne. It involved interviews with 2,275 adults. 

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Brian A Jackson

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.