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Can religion solve the world’s problems? Americans think so

Girl Praying

Recent Gallup poll finds that majority of Americans believe religion can solve today’s issues.

While an increasing number of Americans are drifting away from religious practice, the majority of people in the United States still believe that religion can mitigate or solve many of the problems facing the country today. According to a recent Gallup poll, 57 percent of Americans assert that religious beliefs and practices may help tackle the social and political issues that the nation is dealing with. A significant minority of 30 percent said that religion is “out of date” in this regard, a number that has been growing in recent decades.

The United States is one of the most faithful Western countries in the world, and the Gallup poll reflects this. In another recent poll, roughly 70 percent of Americans identified as religious, with this contingent drawing heavily from conservatives, women, the elderly, and people living in the American South. These groups, having the highest rates of religious practice and church attendance, are the most likely to say that religion can solve a nation’s problems. Political liberals, the millennial generation, and people living in urban environments (particularly on the East coast) were more likely to believe that religion is outdated in solving today’s issues.

While the number of those who believe in the importance of religion for society has decreased – down from 82 percent in 1957 – this trend may be slowing or even leveling off completely. Frank Newport of Gallup noted, “it is possible that the trend toward the belief that religion is out of date may be abating.” He concluded, “it appears this aspect of the secularization of U.S. society may have slowed, if not halted, for the foreseeable future.” This leveling may be due to demographic trends: religious people have higher birth-rates than non-religious people, and children raised in religious households overwhelmingly tend to remain religious into adulthood. History has also shown that in periods of economic hardship, many people turn to faith as a bulwark of certainty in uncertain times.

The recent Gallup poll indicates that while the number of non-religious people has grown considerably in recent decades, the vast majority of Americans – roughly 70 percent – still hold to their various faiths. Furthermore, the apparent leveling off of non-religious growth rates combined with demographic trends (such as larger family sizes among religious people) may see this trend reversed in the coming decades. With America and Europe standing on shaky economic and political ground, the West may witness its populations growing more interested in the religious practices of their forebears.

In a related video published in 2011, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair describes how religious principles can be applied to solve non-religious problems.


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