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Poll: Americans still see religion's importance

 

WASHINGTON (BP) — Despite a common belief that culture is rejecting faith-based ideas, a majority of Americans say society would improve with a stronger religious presence.

Gallup’s finding emerged from a May 2-7 survey examining whether religious influence in America in increasing.

According to the study, 77 percent of the 1,535 adults surveyed said religious influence is disappearing in American culture; 20 percent disagreed. Factors weighed in the survey included participants’ church attendance, ideology, and political party identification.

While the majority of Americans claimed that religion is not increasing in influence, Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport said that most participants felt that a greater religious presence would benefit the nation.

The poll showed that church attendees and those who said that religion held personal significance are more likely to believe that religion could improve culture. But, Newport noted, more than half of participants who rarely (if ever) attended church – and a third of Americans who claimed that religion held no personal importance – still believed that society would improve with a stronger religious presence.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, noted to Baptist Press, “Americans observe that religion is in decline, but they think we’d be better off with more religion – their observation and aspirations don’t match.”

But, he said, “Statistically, they are right on both counts.

“Religion is losing its influence as nominal Christianity is collapsing. So, less people claim religious affiliation, and religion has less influence, even though the number of devout believers has remained pretty steady over the last few decades.

“We also know devout belief correlates with people who care about their neighbors and society,” Stetzer said.