Fewer American evangelical 'born again' Christians believe Jesus did not sin, a new study has found, linking the fall to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Published by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, the American Worldview Inventory 2023 showed the number of "born-again Christians", defined as those who are considered to be "the backbone of local church activity", decreased from 58 per cent to 44 per cent.
This shift in beliefs is one of six aspects where the Research spotted a significant change among born-again Christians. For example, less than half of the people in this group believe they have a unique God-given purpose, falling from 88 per cent of people holding that belief in 2020 to 46 per cent in 2023.
Similarly, a downward trend was also observed in beliefs about the Bible's teachings on abortion, with the percentage of those who believe it is unambiguous falling from 58 to 44 per cent.
Those born-again Christians who believe that human life is sacred also decreased from 60 to 48 per cent.
According to the organisation, one of the "most surprising drops" was the decline in the number of people agreeing that it's impossible to gain eternal life through good works completed on Earth, dropping from 54 per cent to 48 per cent.
The study also showed a decline in the group when asked about "biblical behaviours", such as "practising your religious faith" or reading and studying the Bible at least once a week.
Regarding the general population, the number of US adults with a "biblical worldview" fell from six per cent to four per cent since 2020, while only 33 per cent of those surveyed say they attend church services during a "typical week".
Dr George Barna, director of Research at the University of Arizona, said: "Most religious beliefs change over the course of generations, not a few years."
"However, we know that major life crises have the capacity to introduce substantial change quickly in the foundations of people's faith."
He continued: "The impact of the pandemic and the strong-arm tactics of government during the lockdown years may have shaken the faith of many Christians. The huge drop in foundational perspectives among born-again adults may foretell local churches being less able to rely on the active and reliable support of that critical niche of the church body."
"This is a time when pastors would be wise to return to many basic Christian principles to rebuild the spiritual foundation of congregants and to celebrate the blessings of God, reminding people how great their God really is."