Majority of Americans still think religion is answer to today's problems

Published Friday, July 18, 2014  |  

Over half of Americans are still positive about the role religion can place in addressing today's problems.

A new Gallup poll has found that 57 per cent believe religion can answer all or most of today's problems.

Only a minority - 30 per cent - believe it is largely old fashioned or out of date.

However, the figures still reflect a decline over the last few decades in the number of Americans who believe religion is the answer.

In 1958, the vast majority - 82 per cent - believed in religion's ability to solve today's problems. In the last 14 years since 2000, the percentage of Americans who believe it can answer problems has dropped from 68 per cent to 57 per cent.

Meanwhile, the percentage who believe religion is old fashioned and out of date has risen in the same time period from 19 per cent in 2000 to 30 per cent today.

"The 82 per cent choosing the 'can answer today's problems' options in 1957 is in line with a number of other measures from that decade showing a high level of religiosity, including religious service attendance, importance of religion, and the percentage of Americans with a formal religious identity," Gallup said.

Unsurprisingly, the poll revealed a correlation between people's religiosity and their likelihood to see religion as important to solving problems.

Of those who attend church weekly, 84 per cent said religion can answer problems, compared to just 11 per cent who felt it was old fashioned and out of date.

Conversely, among those who said religion was not very important to them, only 11 per cent said it could answer problems, while 76 per cent said it was old fashioned and out of date. These figures were mirrored among people who described themselves as liberal - 36 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.

"Older Americans, women, those living in the South, and political conservatives are among the most religious groups in the US based on measures of church attendance and importance of religion," said Gallup.

"These groups, in turn, are also the most likely to say that religion can answer most or all of today's problems. Still, across almost all of the demographic and political categories in the table below, the percentage saying that religion can answer most or all of today's problems is higher than the percentage saying that it is out of date.

"The exception is liberals, comprising about 25 per cent of this sample, who are more likely to say religion is out of date than to say it can answer today's problems."