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Religion’s Role in American Life is Shrinking, Study Says

Photo by Akira Hojo on Unsplash

Religion’s Role in American Life is Shrinking, Study Says

By Movieguide® Contributor

The Pew Research Center conducted a study on Americans’ attitudes about religion’s role in public life and politics in a presidential election year.

While the survey found that 8 in 10 Americans said religion is losing influence in public life, a combined 57% of U.S. adults expressed a positive view of religion’s influence on American life. The study states:

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 80% of U.S. adults say religion’s role in American life is shrinking – a percentage that’s as high as it’s ever been in our surveys. Most Americans who say religion’s influence is shrinking are not happy about it. Overall, 49% of U.S. adults say both that religion is losing influence and that this is a bad thing. An additional 8% of U.S. adults think religion’s influence is growing and that this is a good thing.

According to its website, The Pew Research Center surveyed 12,693 respondents from Feb. 13 to 25, 2024.

The survey also revealed that many religious and nonreligious Americans feel that their religious beliefs put them at odds with mainstream culture, with those around them and with those on the other side of the political spectrum.

  • 48% of U.S. adults say there’s “a great deal” of or “some” conflict between their religious beliefs and mainstream American culture, up from 42% in 2020.
  • 29% say they think of themselves as religious minorities, up from 24% in 2020.
  • 41% say it’s best to avoid discussing religion at all if someone disagrees with you, up from 33% in 2019.
  • 72% of religiously unaffiliated adults – those who identify religiously as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – say conservative Christians have gone too far in trying to control religion in the government and public schools; 63% of Christians say the same about secular liberals.

“We see signs of sort of a growing disconnect between people’s own religious beliefs and their perceptions about the broader culture,” said Greg Smith, associate director of research at Pew Research Center.  “We’re seeing an uptick in the share of Americans who think of themselves as a minority because of their religious beliefs.”

The study explored how U.S. adults value moral and religious qualities in a president.

Almost all Americans (94%) say it is “very” or “somewhat” important to have a president who personally lives a moral and ethical life. And a majority (64%) say it’s important to have a president who stands up for people with their religious beliefs.

About half of U.S. adults (48%) say it is important for the president to hold strong religious beliefs. Fewer (37%) say it’s important for the president to have the same religious beliefs as their own.

Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to value religious qualities in a president, and Christians are more likely than the religiously unaffiliated to do so.

When participants were asked whether the Bible should influence U.S. laws, 49% said it should have “a great deal” or “some” influence, while 51% said it should have “not much” or “no influence.”

There is still hope for Christianity in America, though. Movieguide® previously reported:

While the mainstream media can sometimes make it feel like America is no longer a Christian country, a new study from Pew reveals that the future of Christianity is not as dire as it seems.

The study comprised Americans who identify as non-religious, agnostic or atheist and looked at what they believe and why. Currently, 28% of American adults fall into this category, called “nones,” up from 16% in 2007.

Though the percentage of non-religious Americans has starkly risen in the past 15+ years, the data reveals hope for the future.

Of the group of Americans who are non-religious, only 26% don’t believe in God at all. Unfortunately, the other 68% who believe in God or some higher power shun religion largely because they dislike religious institutions or had a bad experience with a religious person…

A study from last spring found that nearly 80% of Americans pray – meaning that even those who are not religious turn to God for help in their struggles. Furthermore, interest in Christianity among the younger generation is on the rise, with the majority of Gen Z interested in the Bible and roughly 50% saying the Bible has changed their lives.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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