Religious Americans Are More Tech Savvy, Study Finds

Americans who are members of religious groups are engaged with core technology at levels similar to or higher than the overall population, a new Pew survey found.

The religiously active part of the population is also more likely to be involved in community activities (including via the Internet and tech devices) and think more highly of their community, the study has found.

Seventy-nine percent of Americans who are active in religious groups are Internet users, compared with 4 percentage points less among those not involved with religious groups. Eighty-six percent of the former are cell phone users and 75 percent are email users, as compared with 80 percent and 68 percent (respectively) in the secular group.

The proportions are only different when it comes to social media. According to the study, 46 percent of religiously active Americans use social networking sites such as Facebook, compared with 49 percent of those who are not involved with religious groups. Only nine percent of the former use Twitter, compared with 10 percent of the latter.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans who are active in religious groups said the Internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact society at large. Asked about their own personal involvement with various groups, they had good things to say about the role of the Internet within these groups, the study found.

However, the religiously active are somewhat more skeptical about the Internet’s impact on their own groups. For example, 38 percent of the religiously active view the Internet as having a major impact on organizing group activities within their communities, compared with 46 percent among their non-religious counterparts.

"When people are asked about their group activities, it is clear that they believe the Internet is having a wide-ranging impact on their own engagement within civic and social groups," Pew researchers concluded. "This is true for all Americans, including those who are active in religious groups and organizations."

Some 40 percent of Americans say they are active in a church, religious, or spiritual organization, according to Pew. Compared with those who are not involved with such organizations, religiously active Americans are more trusting of others and more optimistic about their impact on their community. They also think more highly of their community, are involved in more organizations of all kinds, and devote more time to the groups to which they belong, the study also found.

A different study, released in September by Hartford Seminary insinuates, showed that technology is playing more and more of a prominent role in the life of the Church.

The study - which analyzed over 30 religious groupings, including Protestants, Mormons, Muslims, Catholics and Jews - found evangelical Christians to be the most tech-savvy group. It also found that congregations that have significant numbers of young adults in them are twice as likely to use technology heavily.