U.S. adults look to the government, and to themselves, rather than religious organizations and faith leaders to bring about meaningful change in the nation, according to a Barna Group report published October 19.

When asked, “Which institutions do you believe are responsible for creating meaningful change?” only 26% of all adults surveyed said religious organizations and only 25% said Christian churches.

This ranked sixth and eighth, respectively, out of the 11 possible choices, with respondents asked to indicate all the entities that they believe create meaningful change.

By comparison, 52% said the national government, 51% state government, 46% local government, 30% schools / educational institutions, 27% major corporations, 26% social media, 20% non-profit organizations, 18% local businesses and 14% military. One in ten said “none of the above.”

When the question was shifted to perceptions of the individuals who bring about meaningful change, religious leaders (26%) and Christians leaders (26%) ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, out of the 10 possible responses.

“Myself” (46%) was the most common response, followed by the president (44%), politicians (42%), younger generations (33%), community groups (28%), people on social media (24%), older generations (24%), and famous people (21%), with 6% saying “none of the above.”

Overall, U.S. adults looked to individuals more than institutions to make meaningful change, with 50% saying individuals have “more influence in creating meaningful change in the world” compared to 38% saying institutions. The remaining 12% were not sure.

The full report is available here. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

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