Poll: Majority of Americans Worry Religious Institutions are ‘Abandoning,’ ‘Watering-Down’ Traditional Beliefs
A majority of Americans say faith is important to their daily lives, but they worry “too many religious institutions nowadays are watering down or abandoning their traditional beliefs,” a new Rasmussen Reports poll found.
Out of 1,056 American adults polled between April 9-11, 65 percent say they agree that too many religious institutions are watering down or abandoning their traditional beliefs. Thirty-five percent say they “strongly agree,” while 23 percent disagree and 12 percent are unsure. The margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level.
Overall, 75 percent of respondents say “religious faith [is] important to their daily lives,” up from 71 percent in 2018. Nearly half, 49 percent, say it is “very important” to their lives. The results are higher than March polling from Wall Street Journal-NORC, which found that 39 percent of American adults say religion is “very important to them.” The chart below shows results from that poll:
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According to that polling, religion has seen a precipitous decline in ranking of importance: 62 percent of Americans said religion was “very important” in 1998, a sentiment which tumbled down to 48 percent in 2019 before hitting this year’s low percentage.
The Rasmussen Reports poll found that 23 percent do not consider religious faith important to their daily lives. Other polls in recent years have found that Americans perceive a decrease in religious influence in the United States and place less value on their children sharing their religious views. and show that church attendance and general belief in God has dropped in the U.S. over the past few years.
— Pew Research Religion (@PewReligion) January 24, 2023
“Twenty-five percent (25 percent) of adults surveyed identify their religious affiliation as evangelical Christian, 21 percent as Catholic and 16 percent as Protestant. Three percent (3 percent) identify as Jewish and one percent (1 percent) as Muslim. Seventeen percent (17 percent) identify as some other religious faith, and 12 percent are atheists,” according to the Rasmussen poll report.
“Sixty-two percent (62 percent) of Catholics attend services at least monthly, as do 51 percent of evangelical Christians and 40 percent of Protestants. Thirty-one percent (31 percent) of Catholics attend services weekly, as do 28 percent of evangelical Christians and 23 percent of Protestants,” the report continues.
Forty-three percent of respondents say they attend church, synagogue, or mosque at least once a month, including 24 percent who attend at least once a week. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) say they attend occasionally, while a third (33 percent) never attend. The pollster notes their findings in this area have not changed much since 2018.
The survey found that adults who attend religious services at least weekly are most likely to “strongly agree” that too many religious institutions have taken to abandoning or watering down traditional beliefs.
Adults who attend services at least weekly are most likely to Strongly Agree that too many religious institutions nowadays are watering down or abandoning their traditional beliefs. That view is shared by 52 percent of evangelical Christians, as well as 34 percent of Catholics, 30 percent of Protestants, and 41 percent of Jews, the poll report states.
“Sixty-nine percent (69 percent) of evangelical Christians consider religious faith Very Important to their daily lives, as do 60 percent of Catholics, 45 percent of Protestants, 33 percent of Jews, 37 percent of Muslims and 52 percent of those who identify as some other religion,” according to the poll report.
Younger adults (under 40) are more likely to say they are evangelicals, while Americans 65 and older are more likely to identify as Protestant. Young people are also least likely to attend services weekly, but are also most likely to agree that too many religious institutions nowadays are watering down or abandoning their traditional beliefs.
By sex, women (53 percent) are more likely than men (44 percent) to say religious faith is “very important” to their daily lives. Men (38 percent) are also more likely than women (29 percent) to rarely or never attend religious services.
Married adults (47 percent) are more likely than single adults (33 percent) to report attending religious services at least monthly.