We Believe: Pew Study Finds Faith in America

Nine of every ten Americans celebrate Christmas, and three-quarters of Americans say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.

According to a new telephone study conducted December 3-8, 2013 by the Pew Forum’s Religion and Public Life Project, virtually all Christians (96%) celebrate Christmas, and 80% of non-Christians also celebrate the holiday—although for non-Christians, it’s more of a secular feast.

A couple of findings in the study really stuck out for me:

Family and Friends Matter the Most.

First, most Americans still consider the time spent with family and friends to be the thing they most look forward to during the holidays.  And for most Americans, the emphasis on commercialism and materialism is the thing they like the least.

People Become More Faith-Focused As They Age.

Across the board, religion becomes more central to people’s lives as they grow older.  This may be due to the fact that pursuit of material goods and entertainment becomes empty as the years pass, causing people to look for the deeper meaning in life.  It may be that older people have had more opportunities to see the hand of God in their own lives and in the lives of others around them, and so have responded to God’s gentle call.  In any case, the statistics—in this and older studies—showed a slow but steady increase in appreciation for religion.

Decline in Traditional Ways of Celebrating the Holidays

But one thing which I found discouraging was that the traditional ways we celebrated the holidays in the past seem to be in decline.  Buying gifts for family and friends, putting up a Christmas tree, sending greeting cards, baking cookies,  attending church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day…. in virtually every category, Americans reported that they are less likely now to participate than they were as children.

The decline in these timeless holiday traditions may be attributed to the sheer busyness of life, or to the corresponding increase in social media; but it’s sad to see that we’re letting them go.

 

There is much more:  You can see the Pew Study in its entirety here.


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