Uncommon Devotion

Religion in America Shows Resilience




On any given Sabbath, four of 10 Americans travel to a place of worship, a number that hasn’t fluctuated dramatically in the past half-century. Gallup polls report that more than 81 percent say they identify with a specific religion or denomination; 78 percent say it’s an important part of their lives; and 57 percent believe that religion is able to solve today’s problems.

While recent attendance may be off, Americans are no less likely to attend services today than they were in the 1940s and early ’50s, just prior to the ultra-religious following decade. The reason, says Gallup’s Frank Newport, is that U.S. religious worship is cyclical.

Today’s practicing religious communities “tend to consist of the seriously committed, not just those swept along by obligation,” reports Christian Smith, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame and coprincipal investigator of the National Study of Youth and Religion.

Those that worship regularly are more likely to be older, female and Southern; they also are better educated and stronger financially than those that don’t, according to Newport. At the same time, Mitchell Marcus, a University of Pennsylvania professor, characterizes his Ph.D. students as religiously curious, often devout and eager to talk about their beliefs.


Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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