Table of Contents
- Trust in Religious and Spiritual Leaders
- Confidence in Organized Religion
- Reasons for Not Considering Oneself Religious
- Perception of the Trend of Moving Away from Religious Identification
- Religiosity and Fulfillment
- Spiritual Beliefs
- Influence of Religion on Society
- Attendance at Religious Services
- Changes in Religious Service Attendance
- Methodology of the Survey
In a recent survey conducted in May 2023, Americans without any religious affiliation were found to have diverse religious and spiritual beliefs. This article will delve into the findings of the survey, exploring the trust in religious and spiritual leaders, the decline in confidence in organized religion, and the reasons why individuals do not consider themselves religious. Additionally, we will examine the influence of religion on different aspects of society and the fulfillment derived from religious faith.
Trust in Religious and Spiritual Leaders
The survey revealed that a significant majority of Americans without any religious affiliation, 88%, have little or no trust in religious or spiritual leaders. This figure has seen an increase from 77% in 2021. Furthermore, only 9% of all adults have a lot of trust in religious or spiritual leaders, down from 17% in 2021.
Confidence in Organized Religion
The confidence in organized religion has experienced a steady decline in recent years. Currently, only 10% of all adults have a great deal of confidence in organized religion, which is half of what it was in 2016. Among religiously affiliated individuals, just 14% have a great deal of confidence in organized religion, compared to 54% who have some confidence and 31% who have hardly any trust at all. Among those without any religious affiliation, only 1% have a great deal of confidence in organized religion.
Reasons for Not Considering Oneself Religious
The dislike of organized religion emerged as an important reason why individuals do not consider themselves religious. Among those without any religious affiliation, 68% cited their dislike of organized religion as a very or extremely important reason. Additionally, 63% of respondents without religious affiliation expressed dissatisfaction with the stance religious faiths take on social and political issues, while 54% mentioned reports of abuse or misconduct by religious leaders as a very or extremely important reason. Notably, only 46% of respondents without religious affiliation attributed their lack of religious identification to a lack of belief in God, and 17% mentioned that religion is not part of their family or cultural traditions.
Perception of the Trend of Moving Away from Religious Identification
While the public is more likely to view the trend of people moving away from identifying with a religious group as a bad thing (37%) rather than a good thing (23%), almost 4 in 10 individuals do not consider it as having any particular significance. Interestingly, about half of individuals without a religious affiliation perceive this trend as positive. Among those with a religious affiliation, 13% view the trend as good, 49% as bad, and 36% as neither good nor bad. It is noteworthy that Born-again Protestants are particularly inclined to perceive the trend as negative for society.
Religiosity and Fulfillment
Approximately 30% of adults describe themselves as having no religious affiliation. Nevertheless, 54% of this group still consider themselves as spiritual, religious, or both. When asked about what defines their religiosity, 80% of religious adults mentioned worshipping God as an important reason, while 70% cited spiritual growth and guidance. However, only 13% of individuals without a religious affiliation agreed that religious faith brings fulfillment to their lives. For these individuals, fulfillment is derived from being outdoors, spending time with family, and engaging in hobbies.
The survey revealed that 79% of adults believe in God or a higher power. Among religious groups, more than 90% of Catholics and Protestants have faith in God or a higher power, while 43% of those without any religious affiliation share this belief. Additionally, a wide range of spiritual beliefs were observed among the respondents. At least two-thirds of the public believe in angels, heaven, or the power of prayer. Moreover, 83% of respondents believe that there are things which science or nature cannot explain. Belief in karma and ghosts is fairly widespread, with 42% of respondents expressing belief in these concepts. Furthermore, around a third of adults believe in reincarnation, astrology, and yoga as a spiritual practice. Only 6% of respondents indicated that they do not believe in any of the spiritual items mentioned in the survey.
Influence of Religion on Society
A significant proportion of adults without a religious affiliation believe that religion has too much influence on various aspects of society. Two-thirds of these individuals think that religion has too much influence on the Supreme Court and most members of Congress, and 58% believe it has too much influence on what children are taught in public schools. However, only 32% of them think that President Biden is too influenced by religion. Born-again Protestants, regardless of their political affiliation, are more likely than mainline Protestants to believe that President Biden is influenced by religion too little.
Attendance at Religious Services
The survey found that less than a fifth of the public attends a religious service at least once a week (16%), while another 16% attend at least monthly. On the other hand, a third of adults reported that they never attend religious services. Interestingly, 69% of individuals without any religious affiliation stated that they never attend religious services, while 22% mentioned that they attend one or twice a year, or even less frequently. When comparing different age groups, adults older than 45 were found to be more likely to attend a religious service at least once a month compared to those younger than 45.
Changes in Religious Service Attendance
About a third of adults reported attending religious services less frequently than they did five years ago. Half of the respondents stated that they are attending religious services just as much, while 14% mentioned that they are attending more frequently. Among individuals without any religious affiliation, 61% stated that their rate of attendance has not changed over the past five years, while 35% reported attending religious services less often.
Methodology of the Survey
The nationwide poll was conducted from May 11-15, 2023, using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, which is a probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. The survey involved online and telephone interviews utilizing both landlines and cell phones. A total of 1,680 adults were interviewed, and the margin of sampling error is +/- 3.4 percentage points.
The survey findings highlight the diverse religious and spiritual beliefs among Americans without any religious affiliation. It also sheds light on the declining trust in religious and spiritual leaders, as well as the decreasing confidence in organized religion. The reasons for not considering oneself religious vary, with a dislike of organized religion being a prominent factor. The influence of religion on different aspects of society is a matter of concern for a significant proportion of individuals without a religious affiliation. Additionally, the survey explored religiosity and fulfillment, revealing disparities between religious and non-religious individuals. Understanding these trends and beliefs is crucial for gaining insights into the evolving landscape of spirituality and religion in American society in 2023.
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