A new study has found that two-thirds of Americans admit that they are sinners, and most of them want to mend their ways, but only a minority said they rely on Jesus to overcome sin.
The findings of the survey conducted by LifeWay Research indicated that only 28 percent of Americans who admit they are sinners depend on Jesus to overcome sin. Thirty-four percent said they are working on being less sinful, while 10 percent say sin does not exist.
Eight percent say they are not sinners, and 15 percent prefer not to say if they are sinners at all. Only five percent said that they are fine with being sinners.
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said that the survey was inspired in part by an exchange he witnessed on his way to a Nashville Predators hockey game.
He recounted that a religious group of protesters began preaching at people on the street outside the arena, calling them sinners, which prompted a few people in the crowd to embrace the title with enthusiasm.
"Almost nobody wants to be a sinner," McConnell said. "I wondered how many people really think of themselves as sinners," he added.
Additional findings of the study indicated that Catholics are more likely than Protestants to work to be less of a sinner (48 vs. 31 percent) and to say they are not a sinner (11 vs. five percent). However, they are less likely to say they depend on Jesus Christ to overcome sin (19 vs. 49 percent).
Nones — those without religious affiliation — are 32 percent more likely to say that sin does not exist. Ten percent of them say they are fine with being sinners, while 27 percent say they are working on overcoming sin. Six percent say they depend on Jesus Christ to overcome sin.
Americans with evangelical beliefs are more likely than those without evangelical beliefs to say they rely on Jesus to overcome their sin (72 vs. 19 percent).
The survey of 1,000 Americans was conducted on Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, 2016, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
McConnell said that he was struck by how few Americans, apart from those with evangelical beliefs, say they rely on Jesus to overcome sin, which he said is a core Christian belief.
"To some Americans, saying you're a sinner is a way of admitting you are not perfect," he said. "To those folks, it doesn't necessarily mean you're evil or should be punished for your sin. That's something the church should pay attention to," he added.