Less religion, but more commitment?

Less religion, but more commitment? November 9, 2015

The latest Religious Landscape study from Pew Research, last conducted in 2007, shows a drop off in the religious affiliation of Americans, from 83% to 77%.  And yet, among those who are affiliated with a church or its equivalent, more read the Bible, share their faith, go to prayer groups or Bible studies,  draw on their religion for moral guidance, and believe in preserving traditional beliefs and practices.

From Rachel Zoll, Americans Are Still Largely Religious Amid Growing Securlarism – US News:

A survey released Tuesday brought some good news for faith leaders alarmed by the spike in the number of Americans who say they have no ties to a particular religion.

U.S. adults who continue to identify with a faith group, about 77 percent of all Americans, have largely stayed as religiously engaged as they were seven years ago, according to the Pew Research Center, evidence of a solid core of committed faithful who remain a bulwark against secularization.

Two-thirds of religiously affiliated adults said last year that faith was very important to them and they prayed daily, nearly unchanged from 2007, the last time Pew conducted its U.S. Religious Landscape Study. About 6-in-10 said they attend worship services at least once or twice a month, a rate similar to years before, and nearly all said they believed in God, although the study found a slight dip in the percentage who said so with absolute certainty.

By other measures, the religiously affiliated are more devoted than they were years before. A higher percentage say they regularly read scriptures, participate in small prayer or study groups and share their faith with others. Forty-six percent said they believe their faith tradition should “preserve traditional beliefs and practices” in the face of changes in modern society, up slightly from seven years ago.

Pew released the findings, based in part on a 2014 telephone survey of more than 35,000 people, as religious leaders are grappling with the shifting makeup of American religious life, including the end of what was once a Protestant majority and shrinking membership in denominations ranging from liberal mainline churches to the conservative Southern Baptist Convention.

In an initial release of data last May, Pew researchers found that Americans who don’t affiliate with a religion have become the second-largest group in total numbers behind evangelicals, comprising nearly 23 percent of U.S. adults. Within that group, dubbed “nones,” a growing share described themselves as atheist or agnostic, making the country less religious overall.

At the same time, the report found growing strength among evangelicals. The overall number of evangelicals rose to 62 million people, or a quarter of the population, and evangelicals were the only major Christian group between 2007 and 2014 to gain more members than they lost, Pew researchers said.

Across major faith traditions, the level of commitment varies. Still, Pew found broad evidence of a stable or slightly increased commitment to faith among those who identified with a particular religion, including among Roman Catholics, liberal Protestants and Jews.

Go here for the full report.

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