Opinion

July 16, 2013 (Heritage) – A new Pew Forum poll shows that 48 percent of Americans say a decline of religion is bad for American society. But do fewer Americans consider themselves faithful these days?

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Over the past two decades, the number of Americans who mark their religious preference as “none” has undoubtedly grown. Only 8 percent checked that box in 1990. As of May of this past year, 20 percent of all Americans identified themselves as having no religion.

Despite an increase in these “nones,” the majority of Americans are still religious. Over 90 percent of Americans believe in God or a higher power, and almost 40 percent attend religious services weekly.

Even among those who claim no particular religious affiliation in an earlier Pew Forum survey, roughly 80 percent still believe in God or a universal spirit, and a majority describe themselves as “religious” or “spiritual.” According to a recent survey by researchers at Baylor University, most of those who say they have “no religion” also pray. (continues below chart)

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When faith translates into action, as it often does, it can have a noticeable benefit on civil society. Volunteerism among individuals who attend religious services each week tends to be greater than the national average and among those who attend less frequently. Many faith-based groups and individuals are the first to reach out a helping hand when natural disasters occur or tragedies strike.

But it doesn’t end there. Individuals who regularly attend worship services also tend to give more to charitable causes—by more than 10 percent than those who do not have high religious attendance.

This highlights the danger in the disregard that the Obama Administration has shown for religious belief. Under the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate, there are many family businesses—and soon religious nonprofits—whose religious freedom is threatened.

Religious freedom is the cornerstone of this country. As the Pew poll suggests, Americans understand that men and women with religious beliefs help to bolster American society. Policymakers should seek to protect Americans’ freedom not only to worship but to live out their faith in how they work and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Heritage

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