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June 11, 2024
President Joe Biden departs St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church after attending a Mass in Wilmington, Del., April 23, 2022. (CNS photo/Tasos Katopodis, Reuters)

Pew Research Center reports eight in ten Americans say religion is losing influence in the country, and most are not happy about it.

80% of survey respondents see religious influence in public life declining, and nearly half say that’s a bad thing. Meanwhile, 18% believe it is gaining influence.

Sierra Johns, 33, a Christian stay-at-home mom near Charlotte, NC, agrees with the survey’s findings overall but believes those previously influenced by religion are “actually clinging tighter to God and their beliefs.”

“Religion has been cultural for so long, but no longer,” she says. “I believe many who used to be ‘religious’ no longer feel the need to identify that way because culture as a whole has a different more moralistic — versus theistic — worldview.”

Majority Desire a Moral President

94% of respondents believe it’s important that the President of the United States lead a moral life. However, few see either major presidential candidate for the 2024 election — former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden — as particularly religious.

About 51% of Republicans would prefer a president who shares their religious beliefs. This number jumps to 70% when looking at White evangelical Protestants.

Just one-quarter of Democrats similarly prioritize a president’s religious beliefs, and only 11% of religiously unaffiliated Americans believe a president’s beliefs are important.

Only 13% responded that they see President Biden, a practicing Catholic, as “very religious.” The number was even smaller for former President Donald Trump, with just 4% of respondents seeing Trump, a non-denominational Christian, this way.

Helen Thomas, a 40-year-old freelance writer from Kenosha, WI, believes the influence of religious and political leaders is to blame for the country’s drop in religious beliefs.

“We have such poor examples of ‘religious leaders’ and Christianity in general,” she says, “such as megachurches …and Donald Trump.”

Thomas, who considers herself a non-denominational Christian, sees extremism as part of the reason why the American culture is seeing a decline in religious influence.

“Especially the far right political extreme seems to align with the most conservative Christian beliefs and act as if we Americans all ‘should’ be in agreement with them,” she adds.

49% See Religious Decline as Negative; Minority Pleased

Nearly half of survey respondents (49%) view the country’s religious decline as negative; 13% saw the decline of religion’s role in the U.S. as positive.

Lisa York, 47, a painter from Buffalo, NY, agrees that religion is losing its influence in America, but she is among the minority who is pleased with this finding.

“Some of the worst wars and actions have been committed in God’s name,” she points out. “People use the Bible to hide behind when they are being prejudiced and hateful.”

York, a former Catholic, clarifies she doesn’t believe all religious people have poor motives, but, “some of the worst humans I know are the most ‘religious,’” she continues. “It’s as though they think going to church every weekend gives them permission to treat people terribly the rest of the time.”

York’s personal experiences with religion have left her viewing the construct as “hypocritical,” believing religion should have no bearing on decisions to act kindly. “I don’t need to be afraid of God to treat others well,” she adds. “That should happen regardless of whether you are religious or not.”

Mandy Devine, 56, a Christian life coach in Statesville, NC, agrees with the survey’s findings but believes the word “religion” should be replaced with the word “Christianity” in this context.

“It is true that the impact of the body of Christ (the church) appears to be declining,” she says. “I believe the reason for this is two-fold:

  1. Our inability to operate in unity within the church, and
  2. Our failure to look different (from) the world by accepting the attitudes, opinions, and actions of this world as if they are of God.”

“If we love God with all hearts, love our neighbors, & and begin to walk in unity,” Devine continues, “people will be knocking the doors down to be part of this beautiful gift of grace.”

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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