Just 10 per cent of Americans hold basic Christian beliefs despite 70 per cent identifying as Christian.
A new survey by the American Culture and Faith Institute revealed a dramatic contrast between those who live according to Christian principles and those who describe themselves as Christian.
It highlighted how relatively few could answer simple questions about the Bible and Christian beliefs.
'Our research collected information about attitudes and behaviors related to practical matters like lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, the nature of God, and the consequences of unresolved sin,' said researcher George Barna, who directed the studies.
'That's what makes the discrepancy between the percentage of people who consider themselves to be Christian – more than seven out of every 10 – and those who have a biblical worldview – just one out of every 10 – so alarming.'
The 'Christianity 101' questionnaire was answered by 6,000 people and was split with 20 questions on basic spiritual beliefs and another 20 on behaviour. The answers were then assessed 'in relation to biblical content and the number of biblically consistent answers was tallied for each respondent.
The scores were used to assess if respondents were 'integrated disciples' – a term used to describe when someone's stated beliefs affect their life.
In response to criticism about judging the sincerity of people's Christianity, a statement from Barna read: 'Any time you attempt to measure people's worldview or spiritual standing, you have to tread carefully. We recognize that this research provides an estimate, not an absolute. Only God really knows who is a Christian. Only He knows who has a biblical worldview. God alone knows what's in the mind and heart of each person.'