U.S. teens and adults have a positive perception of Jesus, according to a Barna Group report published May 17.
Nearly three quarters (71%) of all respondents say they have a positive opinion of Jesus, compared to 63% who hold a positive view of the Bible and 57% who see Christianity in a positive light.
However, when it comes to adherents of Christianity, levels of positive affirmation drop noticeably.
Of all respondents, 47% say they view community churches in a positive light, followed by Christian pastors and priests (44%), evangelicals (26%), famous or well-known worship bands (26%), famous people or celebrities who are Christian (26%), celebrity pastors (17%) and megachurches (16%).
When asked about the reasons for their doubt about Christian beliefs, 42% of people who don’t affiliate with a faith tradition and 26% of people affiliated with non-Christian traditions cited “the hypocrisy of religious people.”
Nearly half of all respondents who don’t affiliate with a faith tradition said “hypocrisy” (49%) and “judgmental” (48%) accurately describes present-day Christianity.
“The work of Christians is to embody Jesus—full of truth and grace—and reflect his image in all they say and do,” says David Kinnaman, CEO of Barna Group. “The data shows they too often fall short.”
The full report is available here. The margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points.