Study examines what Americans want most


What Americans want most in life varies clearly depending on their spiritual commitment, a recent study by The Barna Group found. Evangelicals, notional Christians and atheists, among others, gave significantly different answers when they were asked to rate what goals are important to them in life.

"The data provide a distinct image of each faith group," George Barna said. "Evangelicals are intensely driven by their faith. Their life is substantially influenced by their beliefs, and their lifestyle choices and aspirations reflect the centrality of their spirituality.

"Non-evangelical born again adults consider faith to be important but it is not the defining aspect of their existence; it is influential but not the determining factor," Barna added. "Notional Christians treat faith as just one of many dimensions of their life that serves a purpose, but it is not a driving force at all.

"Skeptics have replaced faith with a passion for healthy longevity and personal pleasure gained through world travel, sexual experiences and obtaining knowledge," he said. "They are substantially less focused on relationships and legacy than are other groups. They tend to be less concerned about finding or pursuing a purpose in life because a majority of them believe life has no purpose beyond comfort and pleasure."

Barna said about 10 percent of Americans included in the study had decided that a pursuit of God was their main goal while about 10 percent wanted the exact opposite.

"And then there are the 80 percent or so who are at every other conceivable point along the continuum in between those two extremes," he said. "America is a nation dramatically affected by the faith views of its people."