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    Religion in America

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionande...ialreport.html

    EXPLORING RELIGIOUS AMERICA
    A Poll Conducted for RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY and U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
    by Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research
    March 26 - April 4, 2002


    INTRODUCTION
    Americans are tolerant when it comes to other religions; they are not threatened by other religions; and yet they don't know much about them. These are the main findings of our national telephone survey of 2,002 adults in the United States. Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research conducted this survey, "Exploring Religious America," for the weekly Public Broadcasting System television program RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY and U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT.

    This report details the main findings of the survey:


    Most Christians feel they are tolerant of other religions.
    Americans see religious diversity as a strength and not as a threat.
    Many of these very religious and very tolerant Americans know neither people of other religions nor much about religions other than their own.
    Many Americans turned to their religion to deal with the aftermath of the events of September 11th
    While Americans are evenly split on their overall view of Islam as a religion, most Americans expect a bigger armed conflict soon between Christian and Islamic countries.
    About one half of Americans say they attend religious services at least once per week, and large numbers say they attend prayer group meetings and Bible study.
    By nearly three to one, Catholics believe that Catholic priests should be allowed to marry.
    RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE -- RELIGIOUS THREATS
    For the most part, Americans are accepting and tolerant of people who have religious beliefs that are different than theirs. They think all religions have elements of truth, and a large majority does not think of their own religion as the only true religion. They have this spirit of acceptance and openness to religious differences even though most do not personally know people who practice religions different than theirs or know much about the religious beliefs of others.

    Christians see themselves as very tolerant of people of other faiths, with 81% of Christians saying that Christians in the United States are "very" or "somewhat" tolerant of people of other faiths. People who are not Christians agree with this view for the most part, but not nearly as many of them are fully convinced of Christian tolerance. Only 54% of non-Christians see Christians as being tolerant of people of other faiths.

    Most people in the United States know someone who is Christian (94%) and are familiar with the basic teachings of Christianity (95%). But only half (51%) know a Jew or are familiar with the basic teachings of Judaism (50%). Very few people know a Muslim (28%), a Hindu (17%), or a Buddhist (17%), nor are there very many familiar with the teachings of these religions.

    A majority (62%) thinks the religious diversity in the United States does not make it harder to keep the country together. Only about 1 in 4 finds diversity a problem. Religious diversity is not seen as a threat to their individual religious beliefs. Only 13% feel threatened in this way. Rather, they see this diversity as a source of strength for their beliefs (76%).

    When asked what DOES threaten religious faith, they pick out "evil in the world" (61%) as the leading cause, followed by "materialism" (57%). They are somewhat divided about the role of "movies, TV, and popular music," where as many see it as a threat (48%) as do not see it that way (49%). Less threatening are "nonreligious views of the world" (42%), and only one fourth (27%) see religion threatened by "science."

    RELIGION SINCE 9/11
    About two thirds of Americans (64%) report that religion is a "very important part" of their lives. This is especially true among women (74%) and African Americans (89%). While Americans were focused on the events of the September 11th terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., most of them -- nearly 80% -- said religion was important in helping them deal with what happened. Almost all of those who regularly attend church (93%) said religion was important in helping them. Even those who rarely or never attend religious services were significantly sustained by their religious faith.

    The events of 9/11 did little to change an already strong commitment to religion or faith in God. More than 4 in 5 said that religion is as important in their lives as it was before the terrorist attacks (81%). And almost everyone said the attacks either strengthened their faith in God (27%) or did not change it (69%). Overall, about 1 in 5 said religion was more important since 9/11.

    Americans overwhelmingly expect war with Islamic countries. Almost 3 in 4 Christians feel this way (74%), as do 3 in 5 non-Christians (61%). Even so, they are evenly divided on their views about the Islamic religion. As many view Islam favorably (36%) as unfavorably (37%). However, ten times as many think Islam harbors a larger number of violent extremists (39%) rather than a smaller number (4%) when compared to other religions. These views appear to be based mostly on the events of 9/11, as only a minority is personally acquainted with someone who is Muslim (28%) or say they are familiar with the Islamic religion (35%).

    RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND OBSERVANCE
    The United States, for the most part, is a country made up of very religious people. Religious worship and other religious activities play an important role in the lives of 88% of its people. Almost half (47%) say they attend religious services at least once a week, sometimes more often. Two fifths (40%) say they attend prayer group meetings or Bible or Scripture study groups. And almost half (48%) say they are involved in the activities of their place of worship in addition to their attendance at religious services.

    In order to get an idea of people's views of their relationship to God or some other spiritual force, they were asked how often they experienced the presence of a supreme being close to them. Almost half (49%) of the Christians in the sample said that many times they have experienced "God's presence or a spiritual force that felt very close to you," while only 1 in 10 said this had never happened. Non-Christians, on the other hand, were evenly split. About one third (34%) said it happened many times to them and a like number (36%) said it never happened.

    America is mostly a Christian country. Five out of six say they are Christians. Catholics and Protestants, in equal numbers, comprise half the adult population, 25% and 26% respectively. However, another 32% call themselves Christians but say they are not Catholics or Protestants. Almost half of Christians say they are "born again," and one fourth describe themselves as "Evangelical Christians." The born again and the Evangelicals come from all the Christian denominations, including Catholics. They come mostly from the group of Christians who describe themselves as neither Catholic nor Protestant. The Evangelicals, on the other hand, come mostly from among those who call themselves Protestants.


    Percentage of Christians claiming to be:
    Born Again Christians 46%
    Catholics 21%
    Protestants 52%
    Other Christians 63%
    Evangelical Christians 24%
    Catholics 10%
    Protestants 39%
    Other Christians 26%


    Jews and Mormons are each another 2% of the total. Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists are each less than 1% of the population. About 3% claim some other religion. Nonbelievers make up 8% of all adults -- 3% are agnostic, 2% are atheist, and 3% have no religious preference.

    Those who attend religious services were asked to choose three reasons from among seven choices about what was most important when it came to choosing a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple to attend. More than half (55%) of Christians said "beliefs, doctrines, and creeds" were important in their choice of a place of worship. Next were "a sense of community" and the "minister, priest, or rabbi," each selected by 51%.

    However, when people were asked a separate question, a stronger reason emerged. By a margin of almost 3 to 1, respondents chose "an individual's spiritual experience" (69%) over "doctrines and beliefs" (24%) as the most important part of religion. "Spiritual experiences" were chosen over "doctrines and beliefs" by both non-Christians (73%-15%) and Christians (69%-26%).

    The poll compared several items in their importance in helping people make decisions about their lives. This was the first sign of religion being less important than other alternatives. More than three quarters (77%) would rely upon their own personal judgments ahead of anything else. Of the four alternatives offered them, the teachings of their church or synagogue ranked last (51%). Family and friends ranked second (64%), followed by the Bible (60%).

    CHANGE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
    Catholics were asked about two issues that have been in the news recently as possible reforms in the Church. When it comes to priestly celibacy, most Catholics (70%) favor allowing priests to marry. This finding holds true for both men and women in just about every age group of Catholics. Only among two groups of Catholics does support for allowing priests to marry drop below 50%: those who are 65 years old and older and those who attend church more than once per week.

    Catholics are more evenly divided about whether Catholic laity should have more of a say in the selection of bishops. As many would welcome this reform (48%) as want to continue to leave it to Church officials (44%). Again, support for this reform drops among older Catholics and those who frequently attend religious services.

    NEWS COVERAGE OF RELIGION
    Even though most people take the practice of their religion very seriously in this country, respondents see little religious news on television. By a 2-to-1 margin, more people believe there is too little news about religion on television (36%) than believe there is too much (17%). A plurality (39%) thinks that there is just the right amount of news about religion on television currently. Non-Christians are more evenly divided between too little (28%) and too much (23%).

    HOW THE SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED
    This report summarizes the results of a national telephone survey conducted by Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research regarding religious beliefs and practices in the United States. This national survey interviewed 2,002 adults 18 years of age and older. It was conducted by telephone between March 26 and April 4, 2002. The sample households were selected using random digit dialing. One individual in each household was randomly selected to be interviewed. The final results were weighted to take account of the probabilities of selecting one individual per household and the varying number of telephone lines in a household. Weighting also was done to reflect the national age, sex, and racial demographic breakdown as estimated by the United States Census Bureau. The sampling error at a 95% confidence level depends on the sample size for the reference groups. The sampling error for different groups follows.


    Results Based on:
    Total sample +/-2%
    All Christians +/-2%
    Catholics +/-4%
    Protestants +/-4%
    Other Christians +/-4%
    Non-Christians +/-6%


    Note: Due to rounding, figures in a column may not add to 100%.

    6. Now I would like to ask you some questions about religion. Please tell me, how important would you say religion is in your life? Is it...

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very important
    64
    69
    40

    somewhat important
    23
    24
    20

    somewhat unimportant
    6
    4
    13

    very unimportant
    7
    3
    26

    DK/NA/refused
    -
    -
    -



    7. And since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, would you say that religion is ...

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    more important in your life
    18
    18
    14

    less important in your life
    1
    -
    3

    same as it was before September 11th
    81
    81
    81

    DK/NA/refused
    1
    -
    1



    8. When you think about the terrorist attacks on September 11th, how important has your religious faith been in helping you to deal with what happened? Has it been...

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very important
    54
    58
    32

    somewhat important
    24
    26
    15

    somewhat unimportant
    10
    8
    18

    very unimportant
    9
    5
    31

    DK/NA/refused
    3
    3
    4



    9. Would you say the terrorist attacks on September 11th ...

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    ... have shaken your faith in God
    3
    3
    2

    ... have strengthened your faith in God
    27
    29
    14

    ... did not affect your faith in God
    69
    67
    79

    DK/NA/refused
    2
    1
    5



    10. In general, how often would you say you have experienced Godís presence or a spiritual force that felt very close to you?

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    never
    14
    10
    36

    once or twice
    16
    17
    13

    several times
    21
    23
    15

    many times
    46
    49
    34

    DK/NA/refused
    2
    2
    3


    11. Please tell me, are you personally acquainted with someone who is ...


    11.1 Christian
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    yes
    94
    95
    90

    no
    5
    5
    8

    DK/NA/refused
    1
    -
    2



    11.2 Jewish
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    yes
    51
    49
    64

    no
    48
    50
    33

    DK/NA/refused
    2
    1
    3



    11.3 Muslim
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    yes
    28
    25
    44

    no
    71
    74
    54

    DK/NA/refused
    2
    2
    2



    11.4 Hindu
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    yes
    17
    13
    33

    no
    82
    85
    64

    DK/NA/refused
    2
    1
    3



    11.5 Buddhist
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    yes
    17
    14
    35

    no
    81
    85
    62

    DK/NA/refused
    2
    1
    3



    12. Now I am going to read a list of religions, and for each one, please tell me if you are VERY FAMILIAR, SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR, SOMEWHAT UNFAMILIAR, or VERY UNFAMILIAR with the basic teachings of that religion.


    12.1 Christianity
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very familiar
    76
    79
    60

    somewhat familiar
    19
    17
    32

    somewhat unfamiliar
    1
    1
    2

    very unfamiliar
    3
    3
    5

    DK/NA/refused
    1
    -
    2



    12.2 Judaism
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very familiar
    16
    14
    30

    somewhat familiar
    34
    35
    30

    somewhat unfamiliar
    10
    11
    10

    very unfamiliar
    38
    40
    28

    DK/NA/refused
    1
    1
    1



    12.3 Islam
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very familiar
    6
    4
    13

    somewhat familiar
    29
    28
    34

    somewhat unfamiliar
    15
    15
    17

    very unfamiliar
    49
    52
    35

    DK/NA/refused
    1
    1
    1



    12.4 Hinduism
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very familiar
    3
    2
    9

    somewhat familiar
    18
    16
    24

    somewhat unfamiliar
    16
    16
    19

    very unfamiliar
    63
    66
    48

    DK/NA/refused
    1
    1
    1



    12.5 Buddhism
    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very familiar
    5
    3
    12

    somewhat familiar
    22
    20
    32

    somewhat unfamiliar
    17
    17
    17

    very unfamiliar
    56
    60
    38

    DK/NA/refused
    1
    1
    1



    13. Have your own religious practices been modified by your contact with people of other religious faiths?

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    yes
    23
    22
    30

    no
    74
    76
    66

    DK/NA/refused
    3
    3
    5



    14. In general, how tolerant do you think Christians in the United States are of people of other faiths? Would you say they are ...

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    very tolerant
    29
    33
    12

    somewhat tolerant
    47
    48
    42

    somewhat not tolerant
    11
    10
    19

    not tolerant at all
    5
    3
    15

    DK/NA/refused
    8
    7
    12



    15. Does having many different religions in the United States make it harder to keep the country united, OR does it not make it harder?

    Total
    Christian
    Non-Christian

    makes it harder
    29
    30
    24

    does not make it harder
    62
    62
    67

    DK/NA/refused
    9
    9
    10



    #2
    very informative article.

    thanks for sharing.

    ------------------
    What happens when we're dead? The irony is that all our questions will be answered after we die. We spend our whole life trying to figure out the truth and the only way we'll find out what it is, is to get hit by a bus. And the only comfort that religion offers is that God is driving that bus.


    All racists who are prepared to die for their contry, please do that now.

    Comment


      #3
      Hmmmmm. Good Post!

      Comment

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