The results of a survey on American cultural values undertaken by The Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center, were released in March in a Special Report, America: A Nation in Moral and Spiritual Confusion.
The most striking findings are: 1) a majority of Americans (74 percent) believe their country has suffered a moral decline in the past 20 years; and 2) a majority (64 percent) believes that the news and entertainment media are a major influence in that decline.
Another important finding is that America is divided into three groups based on their views on religion in everyday life. These are identified as the Orthodox, the Progressives and the Independents.
The Orthodox, who generally believe in traditional religion and morality, constitute 31 percent of the public. They tend to see moral issues in black and white, right vs. wrong. The Progressives, who tend to be highly secularised and morally relativistic, constitute 17 percent. The Independents, who tend to side with the Orthodox on sexual moral questions but side with the Progressives on questions of day-to-day morality, constitute the bulk of the American public at 46 percent.
The major dividing line is not belief in God, as 87 percent of Americans say they believe in God, while only 8 percent describe themselves as atheists or agnostics.
Although 52 percent of Americans say they believe that the Bible is God's authoritative Word, only 36 percent (including 92 percent of the Orthodox) believe that people should live by God's principles. Another 45 percent say they combine God's principles with their own, and 15 percent (including 77 percent of Progressives) say they will ignore God's principles if they conflict with their own.
While 90 percent of the Orthodox believe that sex among high school students is 'always wrong,' only 33 percent of Progressives think so, with 54 percent of Progressives saying that it 'depends on the situation,' and another 11 percent saying that it is 'never wrong.'
On homosexuality, 83 percent of Orthodox say it 'is always wrong,' contrasting with only 15 percent of Progressives, and 39 percent of Independents. On the same-sex 'marriage' issue, an overall 61 percent of Americans oppose legalising it, with 88 percent of Orthodox, 59 percent of Independents and only 20 percent of Progressives favouring keeping marriage for man-woman couples.
A full copy of the National Cultural Values Survey: America: A Nation in Moral and Spiritual Confusion can be found on the Internet from the Culture and Media Institute. www.cultureandmediainstitute.org