Family Remains Top Priority For Many, But Faith Severely Lags

A long-term tracking study by The Barna Group shows that family remains the top priority for Americans when surveyed, but that faith is at the bottom of priorities for most.

In the most recent data compiled this year, 45 percent of respondents claim that family and related relational and child-rearing issues dominate. It is important to note that family has decreased in priority from the 51 percent mark in 2006. While it still clearly holds the lion’s share of top marks, other economy-related concerns have grown as the recession lingers.

Health, leisure, personal comfort and lifestyle balance between social and professional obligations have collectively grown substantially from 13 percent to 20 percent over the last four years.

Wealth, professional and financial success has nearly doubled as a priority from 9 percent to 17 percent.

Meanwhile, faith has steadily declined from 16 percent to 12 percent, the lowest ranked item on the survey.

The numbers fit in with similarly reported details that church attendance numbers remain largely flat and giving has decreased since the downturn began in earnest nearly two years ago.

“The conventional wisdom says that when the economy turns bad people focus on ‘basics,’ like family and faith,” indicated Barna Group president David Kinnaman, who directed the Barna study. “This research either calls that thinking into question or it tells us that the economy has not been bad enough to cause a significant reprioritization of family and faith. It is also noteworthy that faith is the most volatile of the elements. It is the only type of priority to go down, then up, suggesting uncertainty about the interaction between faith and finances.”

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