Poll: Most Americans Still Christian; Half See Religion as Solution

A new Newsweek poll reveals that although most Americans are still holding on to their faith and describing themselves as Christians, fewer believe religion can answer today's problems.

According to the poll of 1,003 adults, released Tuesday, 60 percent of American adults say religion is very important in their lives and 78 percent say prayer is an important part of their daily lives.

However, less than half (48 percent) believe religion can answer all or most of today's problems. The percentage is the lowest number Newsweek has recorded since it began polling Americans on that issue in 1957 (when 82 percent believed religion could answer the problems of that time).

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Also, 68 percent of Americans think religion is losing influence on American life, up from 62 percent in 2007 and 46 percent in 2005. And 81 percent say that's a "bad thing."

Since President Barack Obama stepped into the White House, more Americans (31 percent) believe organized religion has too little influence on American politics compared to the year before (25 percent) when George W. Bush was in office.

Moreover, 40 percent think the influence of seculars or those who don't follow any religion has increased on American politics.

A majority of Americans still consider the United States a Christian nation, with 62 percent agreeing. In 2008, 69 percent agreed. The percentage of those who don't consider the country Christian increased from 26 percent in 2008 to 32 percent today.

President Obama, in his recent visit to Turkey, declared that the United States isn't a Christian nation despite the large Christian population.

"We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation," Obama said. "We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

The poll also reveals changing attitudes, particularly toward homosexuality. Down from 84 percent in 2002, 74 percent today say they have old-fashioned values about family and marriage. And 25 percent, down from 36 percent in 2002, say school boards ought to have the right to fire teachers who are known homosexuals.

Meanwhile, Americans have not shifted on their belief in God, with 85 percent of Americans say they never doubt the existence of God.

Other findings in the April 1-2 Newsweek poll show that 48 percent consider themselves religious and spiritual while 30 percent describe themselves as only spiritual; 29 percent say they are evangelical Protestant, down from 35 percent in 2007; and 6 percent describe themselves as non-Christian.

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