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Current Page: U.S. | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Half of Americans want religion to play a more important role in the US

Half of Americans want religion to play a more important role in the US

Photo: Getty Images/Cristian Bortes/EyeEm | Photo: Getty Images/Cristian Bortes/EyeEm

More people globally  — including a majority in the United States — say that they desire to see religion play a more important role in their country, new polling data from the Pew Research Center shows.

This week, Pew released data compiled from years of polling over 30,000 people in 27 countries that asked respondents about diversity, gender equality, and religion in their respective countries.

The random samples were nationally representative for each country with about 1,000 being surveyed per country.

Among the questions, respondents were asked if they favor or oppose the idea of religion having a more important role in their country.

The data shows that those who oppose religion playing a more important role in their countries outnumber those who support an increased role for religion in just five of the 27 survey countries (all European).

Pew Research Center | Pew Research Center

According to a report released Monday, a median of 39 percent across 27 countries support the idea of an increased role for religion in their nations, while a median of only 13 percent said they oppose the idea.

In the U.S., 51 percent of respondents said they favor a more important role for religion in America, while only 18 percent of American respondents said they oppose.

Results on this question varied a bit by continent.

A median of 44 percent from Asia-Pacific countries included in the poll favor a greater role for religion in their countries. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, 85 percent said they favor a more important role for religion. In the predominantly Catholic Philippines, 58 percent favored a great role for religion.

The survey finds much approval for an increased role for religion in sub-Saharan Africa.

In countries like Kenya and Nigeria, 74 percent favor an increased role for religion.

In Nigeria, the data shows, results on the question varied by religion as 88 percent of Muslims favor a greater role for religion in their country while only 61 percent of Christians said the same. Additionally, 26 percent of Nigerian Christians said there has been no change in the importance of religion in Nigeria, whereas only 5 percent of Muslims said the same.

In a country like India, where radical Hindu persecution against religious minorities is increasing and the government is led by a Hindu nationalist party, 53 percent say they favor a more important role for religion, while 21 percent opposed.

Fifty-four percent of Indian respondents said religion is playing a more important role in their country than it did 20 years ago.

A median of 32 percent of Europeans favors a more important role for religion in their countries, while a median of 33 percent oppose. In Sweden, 51 percent oppose a greater role for religion, while 20 percent approve. In France, 47 percent oppose a greater role for religion, while 45 percent oppose the idea in the Netherlands.

The poll also finds differences among age groups.

“Older adults are more supportive of a more important role for religion in 10 countries. The biggest age difference is in Italy, where there is a 25 percentage point gap between older and younger Italian adults,” Pew researchers wrote in the report. “But this age gap also exists in both Canada and the U.S., where there are gaps of 19 and 22 percentage points, respectively, between those ages 18 to 29 and those 50 and older.”

The report indicates that people who say that religion is very important in their lives are especially in favor of a more important role for religion in society. They are also more likely say that religion plays a more important role than it did 20 years ago.

The report finds that a median of 37 percent across all 27 countries say that religion is playing less important of a role in their countries than it did 20 years, while 27 percent said that religion is playing a more important role. A median of 22 percent reported no change internationally.

As for American respondents, 58 percent said that religion is playing a less important role in the country, while 19 percent of Americans said religion is playing a more important role than it did two decades ago. Twenty-one percent of Americans said there was no change in the role religion is playing in the U.S.

Globally, the report finds, the majority of respondents feel that family ties have weakened in their countries. Majorities in most countries (except Indonesia, Philippines, Nigeria, and South Africa) say that family ties have weakened in the last 20 years and feel that it is a “bad thing.”

In the U.S., 64 percent of respondents believe that family ties have weakened in comparison to 20 years ago. Thirteen percent of Americans feel family ties have actually gotten stronger and 20 percent reported no change.

Pew also found that majorities from all countries (except India, Nigeria, South Africa and Mexico) report that their countries have gotten more ethnically, religiously, and racially diverse in the last two decades.

The increased diversity is largely favored internationally more than it is opposed, the data shows.

The only country where a majority of respondents opposed the increasing diversity is Greece (62 percent). A median of 45 percent across the 27 countries favored the diversity, while a median of 23 percent opposed.

“In the U.S., Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party (70%) are more likely to favor increasing diversity than Republicans and Republican leaners (54%),” the Pew report explains.

The poll also found that supporters of right-wing populist parties in Europe are less likely to favor increasing cultural diversity.

“In 19 of the 27 countries surveyed, people with more education are more likely to be in favor of increasing diversity in their country,” the report notes.

Majorities in all countries except Hungary, the Philippines and Russia report greater gender equality in their countries compared to 20 years ago.  

A median of 64 percent across the 27 survey countries favors greater gender equality.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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