Religion losing influence in America: Poll

Last Updated: Sunday, June 2, 2013 - 14:27

Washington: While most Americans say religion is losing influence in the country, 75 per cent say American society would be better off if more Americans were devout.

According to a new Gallup survey, over three-quarters of Americans (77 per cent) say religion is losing its influence on American life, while 20 per cent say religion`s influence is increasing.

These represent Americans` most negative evaluations of the impact of religion since 1970, although similar to the views measured in recent years, Gallup said.

"It may be happening, but Americans don`t like it," Frank Newport, Gallup`s editor in chief, said of religion`s waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don`t think this is a good state of affairs."

According to the Gallup survey released this week, 77 per cent of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans` perception of religion`s power has never been lower.

According to the poll, 75 per cent of Americans said the country would be better off if it were more religious. Only 17 per cent said they had a negative view on this.
The poll does not reflect Americans` personal religiosity, such as church attendance, but rather how large events and trends shape shared views, Newport was quoted as saying by CNN.

For example, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War and the rise of the counterculture fed the perception that religion was on the wane during the late 1960s, he said.

Views of a secularising America peaked in 1969 and 1970, when 75 per cent of Americans said faith was losing its clout in society. A similar view dominated from 1991-94 and from 2007 to the present.

Americans saw religion increasing its influence in 1957, in 1962 and at a few points during the Reagan presidency in 1980. This number also spiked to its highest point ever - 71 per cent - after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The pollster did not speculate on the contemporary factors that led to the current views on faith`s influence.

Still, the poll numbers are dramatically influenced by church attendance, according to Gallup. More than 90 per cent of people who attend church weekly responded that a more religious America would be positive, compared with 58 per cent of Americans who attended church "less often."

A total of 1,535 people were sampled for the poll held from May 2 to May 7, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013 - 14:27

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