Surveys on religion are rarely in shortage. Last election year produced an abundance of them for every potential issue that could turn a vote. But if you thought pollsters were going to take a break, think again. Below are three surveys that have come out in the last month, each offering an interesting look into the religious landscape of America.
1) The most religious city in America is….
…the Provo-Orem area of Utah, according to a recent Gallup poll, with 77 percent of residents being “very religious.” And here you probably thought it was a city in Texas.
The least religious were Burlington, Vt., and Boulder, Colo., which had only 17 percent of residents that were “highly religious.” The survey also concluded that 31 percent of “Americans were nonreligious, saying religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining 29% of Americans were moderately religious, saying religion is important in their lives but that they do not attend services regularly, or that religion is not important but that they still attend services.”
Hmm, maybe the North Carolina Republican’s recent bill to create a state religion is really just an attempt to beat Provo-Orem in the next survey.
2) Staying home is the New Easter
Easter is over and perhaps you missed the Lifeway Research Survey that did more than show a change in attitudes toward Easter. According to the survey, “about half (48 percent) of Americans who say they rarely attend church [emphasis mine] do not plan on attending at Easter.” Who knows if that held true after the fact. It’s not really the Easter attendance specifically that has my attention. Sure, knowing that “Americans age 55-64 are the least likely to attend Easter services (29 percent), but those 65 and older (50 percent) are more likely to attend than those in the youngest demographic: 18-29 (41 percent)” is telling. But when a Gallup Poll tells me that 31 percent of Americans are non-religious because they “seldom or never attend services,” and a Lifeway Survey puts a similar demographic at 41 percent, you know things are changing.
Add to this the recent survey from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University, which indicated that 20 percent of Americans—or 1 in 5 for those of you who are counting on your fingers—consider themselves without religious identification, then there’s little denying the change in religious landscape. Interestingly, more individuals are apparently willing to confess that they don’t go to church, than that they aren’t religious in the first place.
3) Lastly, American Catholics have stopped asking, WWPD?
According to a New York Times/CBS News survey of American Catholics in March—before Francis I charmed the world by paying his hotel bill in person—“nearly 8 in 10 Catholics polled said they would be more likely to follow their conscience on ‘difficult moral questions’ than to follow the pope’s teachings.” Not only do they not want to conform to the pope’s rules, they kinda also want him to be the one to change this time around. The majority indicated that the new pope should lead the church into a more liberal world.
I believe, at least for American Catholics, that this makes him only a figure-head of the church.
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