Lauren Moye, FISM News
A recent Ipsos poll coordinated in conjunction with the Episcopal church should be a source of encouragement for Christians who are concerned about the increasing secularization of young Americans. The poll found that although religion and Christianity are losing ground in today’s society, there has been a dramatic shift in positive views towards Jesus among Generation Z.
The March 2022 “Jesus in America” study verified what has been known for some time. Millennials and Generation Z are less religious than older generations with 28% and 24% respectively identifying as ‘not religious.’ Despite this, significant numbers of both generations reported a recent viewpoint shift in how they perceive Jesus, with 22% of Millennials and 27% of Generation Z selecting this poll answer.
The news for Generation Z is very encouraging, with 76% of respondents reporting this shift as a “positive change” compared to 15% who selected that it was a “negative change” and 9% who reported “other.” Considering that the study only included adults over the age of 18 in its sample population, the majority of Generation Z popularly defined as being born between 1999 and 2015 were not eligible. This means that this mostly positive shift occurred among traditional college-aged Americans.
The poll is not as encouraging for the Millennial generation, but Christians also should not find it discouraging. 1 out of 4 Millennials reported their view of Jesus had changed negatively. 9% of this generation also selected “other.” However, 65% of Millennials did state they now had a more positive view of Jesus.
“We are encouraged that the research shows Americans still find Jesus compelling, but we also see that the behavior of many of his followers is a problem, and it’s not just certain Christians: it’s all Christians,” said Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote about the poll results.
While the poll found some positive news, it also revealed that non-Christians were more likely to choose words like “hypocritical,” “judgmental,” “self-righteous,” and “arrogant” to describe followers of Christ. Nearly 1 out of 4 of these same respondents identified “love your neighbor” as the most important teaching of Christ while another fifth said that it was not to judge others without first judging yourself.
“This is a wake-up call for us, and based on what we have learned, we are refocusing our efforts on being a church that looks and acts like Jesus and models its behavior on his teachings. In this process, we hope to ignite a revival of love that encourages all Americans to do a better job of loving their neighbors,” Curry said.
The “Jesus in America” national study was released in March 2022 with a sample size of 3,119 adults aged over 18. There were 189 Generation Z and 600 Millennials included among the respondents. The study included multiple denominations of Christianity, other religions, and nonreligious among its sample groups.