New study reveals differing views among pastors and Christians on AI

Pastors, Christians and U.S. adults hold varying levels of concern — and optimism — about the technology, though most pastors believe God can work through AI

BOULDER, Colo. — New data from Barna Group, conducted in partnership with Gloo, the leading technology platform dedicated to connecting the faith ecosystem and releasing its collective might, uncovered key sentiment differences between pastors and the U.S. adult population about the topic of artificial intelligence, and more notably between pastors and Christians. The research focused on characterizations of AI, views of future use, and whether or not God can use AI.

“This research really highlighted the differences in perceptions about AI from the pulpit to the pews,” said David Kinnaman, CEO of Barna Group. “Even so, while pastors have a consistently cautious view of AI, they do see the benefits and use cases for good with 63 percent of pastors who believe that AI could ‘improve efficiency and effectiveness in workplaces,’ and 76 percent who believe that AI can ‘empower individuals with disabilities in being able to perform tasks.’ All of this really does reinforce the strong belief of pastors that God can work through AI.”


Sentiments of AI (when asked, “In my opinion, AI is…”)

  • Christians are more likely (23%) than pastors (9%) to call AI “encouraging.”
  • Approximately one-third of pastors (34%) find AI “constructive” with 23 percent of Christians in agreement.
  • Christians place a higher trust in AI with 12 percent calling it “trustworthy” compared to only 2 percent of pastors.
  • Approximately one-third of pastors view AI as “scary” (34%) and “biased” (32%).
  • Christians share similar views, with 34 percent who call it “scary,” but only 11 percent of Christians who call it “biased.”
  • A majority of pastors (72%) believe that AI is “concerning,” compared to 40 percent of Christians.

On God’s work through AI

  • A majority of pastors (77%) answered “yes” when asked if God can work through AI.
  • One-quarter of Christians (25%) agreed that God can work through AI.

On the use and regulation of AI

  • While there was general agreement on the use of AI to empower individuals with disabilities to perform tasks, pastors were decidedly more optimistic (76%) than their U.S. adult counterparts (37%).
  • Amongst U.S. Adults, Gen Z is twice as likely (41%) than boomers (20%) to believe that AI can enhance education.
  • A majority of pastors (63%) believe that AI can increase people’s feelings of loneliness with only 11 percent holding that it can contribute to building meaningful human relationships.
  • By contrast, only 30 percent of U.S. adults believe AI will increase people’s feelings of loneliness, with 13 percent who believe AI will be able to positively contribute to meaningful human relationships.
  • An even split is seen across faith demographics, from Christians (50%) to atheists/agnostics (50%) and those of no faith (55%) that “AI should be more strictly regulated to prevent misuse.” 

“There’s no doubt that views on AI will continue to be mixed inside and out of the Church — it’s the reason why we’re doing this ongoing study to better understand people’s views of the technology,” said Steele Billings, head of AI at Gloo. “In the midst of rapid development of AI tools that only increase human and AI interactions, it’s important to help ministry leaders understand the trends and drive conversations on responsible use of AI. We have a moral imperative to responsibly use tools like AI and other technologies to advance human flourishing and better enable, never replace, human relationships.”

In addition to ongoing research Gloo is doing with Barna on AI, Gloo launched the AI & the Church Initiative to help ministry leaders responsibly navigate and engage the evolving landscape of AI.  Each month Gloo and Barna will share fresh research on faith and AI and will publish a compendium of the data at a future date.


Gloo is the trusted platform that releases the collective might of the faith ecosystem. As a leading technology innovator, Gloo is a tech platform that connects ministry leaders to resources, people, data and insights and funding so their people and communities flourish and their organizations thrive. Gloo is based in Boulder, Colorado.

Barna Group is a visionary research and resource company based in Dallas, Texas. Started in 1984, the firm is widely considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. Conducting more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies, Barna has become a go-to source for insights about faith and culture, leadership and vocation and generations. Barna has worked with thousands of businesses, nonprofit organizations and churches across the U.S. and around the world. Barna is an independent, privately-held, nonpartisan organization based in Dallas, Texas, with offices in Nashville, Tennessee, Ventura, California, and Atlanta, Georgia.

About this survey
This data is based on a survey of 800 U.S. adults, conducted from February 16 – 20, 2024. The margin of error for the sample is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. For this survey, researchers used an online panel for data collection and observed a quota random sampling methodology. Quotas were set to obtain a minimum readable sample by a variety of demographic factors and samples were weighted by region, ethnicity, education, age and gender to reflect natural presence in the American population.

Sarah Bunyea
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button