Who or what has an influence on you? That's the question pollster George Barna asked a representative sample of evangelical Christians.
American evangelicals tend to be an independent lot, according to executive director of American Culture & Faith Institute. Barna says they tend to think that morality and good behavior are written on their hearts and that they can stand unmoved in the strongest of gales.
"Most Americans think nobody influences them; that they're impervious to the influence of outside information or authorities or whatever it may be," he poses.
But when pressed, the vast majority (98%) of a group Barna has labeled SAGE Cons* says the Bible has the most influence on their personal lives. That's followed closely by "religious teaching" (92%) – meaning what they get from their pastors at church. Barna, however, says there's just one problem.
"Across the country only about one out of three people actually read the Bible even once during the course of a week," he tells OneNewsNow. "Born-again Christians and evangelicals, not surprisingly, spend the most time [reading the Bible] and do it the most frequently, but even among those groups we find that that commitment has been waning over the last decade."
The pollster finds the disconnect understandable: evangelicals believe their faith is very important to who they are and how they live.
When the survey asked what kinds of things SAGE Cons would like to see be influencers on society, churches and ministries took the top two spots. But here again, says Barna, there's a difference between perception and reality.
"Churches in this country really aren't engaged in the culture nearly as much as Christian people would like them to be," he laments. "And we also know that many Christians admit that they're struggling to figure out how to translate their faith into action on the streets."
The third-greatest influencer among SAGE Cons? According to the survey, it's the values taught to them by their parents.
* SAGE Cons = spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives