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Wednesday, 06 May 2009 20:03

Newsweek poll: Religious in America

The magazine Newsweek conducted a poll about religious views of people in the United States. Its title "A Post-Christian Nation?" raises some interesting thoughts on religious views, and their trends over time.

The poll was released on April 3, 2009. Newsweek surveyors polled 1,003 adults who were eighteen years or older. The poll was conducted on April 1 and 2, 2009. All percentages from trends of past years are from Gallup polls.

The results of the poll are found at the “A Post-Christian Nation?” website (pdf file).

Some of its conclusions are:

Almost 90% of Americans have “faith in a spiritual being” (and this figure has not changed much in over the last two decades)

78% said, “prayer was an important part of daily life” (which has increased 2% since 1987)

85% stated that religion is “very important” or “fairly important” in their lives (and this figure has not changed much since 1992)


48% of Americans describe themselves as “religious and spiritual”

30% of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious”

9% of Americans describe themselves as “religious but not spiritual”

9% of Americans describe themselves as “neither religious nor spiritual”

4% of Americans responded “I don’t know”

Page two contains some interesting percentages based on some quite interesting questions.

Interestingly, some questions just seemed to be more interesting that others.

The percentages of people answering in the affirmative, and the questions they were asked, are shown below:

25% say “School boards ought to have the right to fire teachers who are known homosexuals” (51% said that in 1987)

74% say “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” (87% said that in 1987)

68% said, “religion is losing influence on American life” (58% said that in 1984 and 32% in 1962)

48% responded that “religion can answer all or most of today’s problems” (the lowest percentage since the poll was taken in 1957, when the percentage was 82%)

For additional information on this 2009 Newsweek poll, please read “One Nation Under God?

Newsweek concludes, basically, that the attitudes of American with respect to religion are “shifting,” but that generally Americans are still “deeply religious.”

Author's note: I would be really interested in talking with the 4% of those people polled who couldn't answer whether they are or are not religious and/or spiritual. That response of "I don't know" really peeked my curiosity!

An interesting article on "Ten Global Trends in Religion" by Jay Gary (dated July 17, 1997) talks about some global trends of religion around the world.

The PEW Forum, a well-respected research organization, also holds some interesting articles on religion in the United States. See its website "Welcome to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey."

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