Gallup has announced the results of a new poll based on more than 320,000 interviews conducted between Jan. 2 and Nov. 30 of this year, and found that America remains a largely Christian nation with a solid core of believers. The results, which form the basis of the book, God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America, roundly dismiss arguments by "new atheists" that suggest Americans should toss aside their beliefs as delusional artifacts of a lost age.
Not so fast, says Frank Newport, Gallup Editor-in-Chief. Religion is as powerful and influential as it's ever been in American society, he says. After conducting more than a million interviews on the subject, he has found that the majority of Americans not only believe in God, but that this belief is very much interwoven into their daily lives. It's entirely possible, he argues, that religion will be even more important in the years ahead.
"Religiousness is significantly related to wellbeing and health. This fact may become better known in the future, increasing the chance that Americans -- particularly aging baby boomers -- may look to religion as a positive component of their way of life," he writes.
Among the key findings in his study:
• Religiousness increases with age. Americans are least religious at age 23 and most religious at age 80.
• Women are significantly more religious than men, at all ages and within all race and ethnic groups.
• Blacks are more religious than any other race or ethnic group in America.
• Mormons are the most religious of any specific religious group in America; Jews are the least.
• Religiousness is highest in Southern states, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
• Religiousness is lowest in states located in the two northern corners of the country, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
• Upscale Americans are less religious than those in lower income brackets, but they attend services just as often.
• There are substantial political differences in religiousness. Republicans are significantly more likely to say that religion is important in their daily lives and more likely to attend religious services regularly than either independents or Democrats.
Commenting on the fact that 77 percent of Americans are Christian, and an amazing 94 percent of those who have a religious identity are Christian, Catholic League president Bill Donohue writes:
"Thus does the multicultural argument collapse. Indeed, all the talk about the U.S. being so diverse that we have no common religion anymore is pure bunk (and wishful thinking). This needs to be said at Christmastime more than ever: those who attempt to neuter the holiday rely on the false premise of multiculturalism."
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