Deseret News’ Faith in America Survey finds Americans still hold religious beliefs, despite decline in religious participation; over 70% of Americans think the nation’s ‘moral compass’ is pointing in the wrong direction
SALT LAKE CITY, March 22, 2022
The new survey, conducted by The Marist College Survey, highlights trends on faith and religion in America
SALT LAKE CITY, March 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Desert News Faith in America Survey, conducted by the Marist College Survey, reveals a growing trend in the country: Americans hold on to their core religious beliefs even as they become less attached to religious practices and institutions, such as daily prayer and attendance at services. Furthermore, a substantial majority of Americans are deeply concerned about the moral direction of the country.
“While the state of religion is continually changing, our study found that the majority of Americans still hold core religious beliefs and derive moral guidance from their families and religious traditions,” said Hal Boyd, editor of Deseret National. “The vast majority of Americans, 7 out of 10, think the country would be better off if we prayed for each other. And most Americans say the US Constitution was inspired by God. Despite headlines that highlight the decline religion, faith remains a strong moral force in American life.”
Several highlights of the comprehensive investigation, conducted January 19-26 this year from 1,653 U.S. adults, include:
Americans continue to believe in the biblical God and embrace “spirituality,” even though they are less attached to religious practices and institutions.
For example, 54% of Americans say they believe in God as described in the Bible, which includes 86% of all who practice a religion and one in three (33%) who say they do not practice a religion.
About 7 in 10 Americans (71%) consider themselves spiritual, whether or not they practice a religion.
Only 40% of adults say they attend a religious service at least once or twice a month. This is a significant drop from April 2011 Marist Poll which found that 52% of Americans attend religious services at least once or twice a month.
Church attendance is also influenced by age: Americans 60 or older (43%) are the most likely to attend services at least once a week. This practice decreases significantly among young Americans: 45-59 (27%), 30-44 (25%) and 18-29 (21%).
A majority of Americans (72%) believe that “the morality of the nation the compass is pointing in the wrong direction.”
This is the view not only of practicing Christians (74%), but even non-religious Americans (69%).
The consensus, however, shifts by party affiliation: 90% of Republicans say America’s moral compass is broken, but only half (51%) of Democrats say the same.
Less than one in four Americans (22%) think the nation’s moral compass is pointing in the right direction.
American adults do not believe that religion is a requirement of morality.
An overwhelming majority (91%) of those who do not practice religion believe it is necessary to follow the Golden Rule in their personal lives.
This represents almost no difference between those who practice religion as a whole (93%) and feel it is necessary to follow the Golden Rule in their personal lives.
Similar proportions say it is equally necessary to follow the golden rule in their professional life.
Americans rank close relationships – such as family (79%) and friends (65%) – and the rule of law (66%) first as sources of moral guidance.
Religious teachings (63%) and religious leaders where they can worship (57%) come fourth and fifth.
Popular personalities, such as social media influencers, television personalities, and athletes, come last.
Most Americans don’t look to political leaders or celebrities for moral advice.
Only 16% of Americans, including 18% of those who follow a religion, 17% of Christians and 14% of those who do not follow a religion, say they are likely to turn to political leaders for moral advice . Oprah (10%), Favorite Athletes (10%), and Favorite Social Media Influencers (12%) are even less influential in shaping her morality.
When it comes to the role of religion in politics, a strong partisan divide emerges.
Republicans (70%) are significantly more likely than Democrats (28%) and Independents (45%) to believe that a person’s politics should be influenced by their religion.
This partisanship also appears in the belief that the American Constitution was inspired by God. Looking at the Constitution as a whole, Republicans (81%) overwhelmingly believe it was inspired by God, while 55% of independents and only 36% of Democrats agree.
Americans are much less convinced that divine inspiration played a role in the Second Amendment: only 37% of adults believe that God was behind the right to bear arms.
The survey of 1,653 adults was conducted January 19-26 speak Marist College Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with Deseret News.
Adults 18 and over residing in the contiguous region United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Mobile and fixed line phone numbers were randomly selected based on a nationwide list of telephone exchanges from Dynata. The results are statistically significant within ± 3.2 percentage points.
For more information on the Marist Survey, please visit www.maristpoll.com.
REMARK: Hal Boyd from the Deseret News and Michel Conte with the Marist College Polls are available for national media to comment on the role of faith in the lives of Americans. For all interview requests, please contact [email protected]
The news from the Desert was founded in 1850 on the edge of the American border by pioneers attached to “Liberty & Truth”. More than a century and a half later, the Deseret News is the oldest news agency in Utah and the oldest operating company in the state. In addition to its award-winning website and mobile app, the Deseret News publishes a weekly edition (delivered by mail), Deseret Magazine and Church News. The Deseret News maintains and reaffirms its commitment to be a standard bearer for journalistic integrity and principled reporting. We aim to elevate understanding, challenge assumptions, and illuminate the context of our longstanding heritage of faith, family, and core values that build strong societies.
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