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A new study released this month by The Barna Group revealed substantial differences in perspectives held by liberals and conservatives, and tied those differences to the divergence between their religious beliefs, religious practices and religious alignments. The survey was based on interviews conducted between August and November 2008 with 3,012 adults.

Notable in the research—and of particular import to pastors—is the finding that 70 percent of conservatives believe “their faith is becoming an increasingly important moral guide in their lives,” as opposed to 38 percent of liberals. The study also revealed that liberals are less than half as likely as conservatives to firmly believe the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Additionally, the survey found that only 55 percent of liberals adopt the view that “God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today,” whereas 82 percent of conservatives hold to that view.

Why are these findings so crucial to understand?

“Every person’s central choices in life are driven by their worldview, and everyone’s worldview is greatly influenced by their spiritual inclinations,” George Barna, president of Barna Research Group, said regarding the findings. “The social and political preferences of people are closely tied to their spiritual beliefs and practices. One of the great challenges to our nation’s leaders is to help people of different spiritual and ideological perspectives maintain dialogue and an appreciation of each other’s innate value despite those divergent points of view.”

To read the entire study, visit

is a credentialed minister and freelance editor living in Sacramento, Calif.