The most recent Barna Report concerns Christians’ perception of contributions to society. Here are the positive contributions:
In response to an open-ended question – meaning that survey respondents were not prompted with a list of possibilities but were asked to provide answers off the top of their head – one out of every five adults (19%) mentioned how Christians in the United States have helped poor or underprivileged people to have a better life. Adults under the age of 25 were especially likely to cite such service (34%). Others who were more likely than average to point out how Christians have helped those in need included blacks (28%) and those who describe themselves as “mostly liberal” on social and political matters (29%). Interestingly, evangelicals (11%) and those who say they are “mostly conservative” on socio-political matters (11%) were among the people least likely to list this as the greatest contribution of American Christianity.
The second most prolific contribution named related to evangelism – i.e., efforts to advance belief in God or Jesus Christ or to promote becoming an adherent of the Christian faith. Overall, one out of every six adults (16%) offered this response. Evangelicals (25%) and non-evangelical born again Christians (23%) were among those most likely to list evangelistic efforts. While one-quarter of all Protestant adults (26%) named evangelism, just one out of ten Catholics (11%) followed suit.The third most common contribution listed was shaping or protecting the values and morals of the nation. This perspective was given by one out of every seven adults (14%). Those in the “mostly conservative” segment (19%) were among the most likely to mention this contribution. Young adults, Skeptics, and people in the “mostly liberal” categories were only half as likely as the national average to mention this outcome.
Overall, just 6% mentioned positive contributions by the Christian faith that related to marriage, and 5% listed favorable actions related to stopping abortions.
Slightly more than one out of every ten adults (11%) said Christianity had not made any positive contributions to the United States. This perspective was most common among people associated with a faith other than Christianity (23%) and Skeptics (27%).
The most frequent response, however, was the inability to think of a single positive contribution made by Christians in recent years. One out of every four respondents (25%) said they could not recall anything of this nature. Skeptics (34%), unchurched adults (33%), and Independent voters (29%) were more likely than other people to fall into this response category.