Lord, Have Mercy on 67% of Us

A Lenten research roundup of what Americans think of sin.

Pope Francis warned this year against “fake fasting” during Lent.

“We must pretend,” Francis said with a smile during a Friday mass in February. “That is not showing others that we are performing acts of penance.” Those who fast should reflect on their sins and ask God for forgiveness, he said.

Most Americans don’t observe Lent. But that’s not because they think they’re sinless.

In fact, 2 out of 3 Americans confess to being a sinner (67%), according to LifeWay Research [full infographic below]. The rest don’t see themselves as sinners (8%), don’t think sin exists (10%), or preferred not to answer the question (15%).

While a few of the self-confessed sinners don’t mind being one (5%), most say they are either working on being less of a sinner (34%) or depending on Jesus to overcome their sin (28%).

“Almost nobody wants to be a sinner,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

More women (33%) than men (22%) say they depend on Jesus to overcome sin, as do more Protestants (49%) than Catholics (19%) and more evangelicals (72%) than non-evangelicals (19%). About half of those who attend religious services at least monthly (51%) say they depend on Jesus, compared to 15 percent of those who go less frequently.

In 2016, a LifeWay study for Ligonier Ministries found that 65 percent of Americans think that everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature. Americans with evangelical beliefs were less likely to agree than those without evangelical beliefs (54% vs. 68%).

More than three-quarters of those surveyed said people have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative (79%), while nearly the same amount soundly rejected …

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