Trends in Public Opinion: A Compendium of Survey Data

By Richard G. Niemi; John Mueller et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

13 Religion

Two great, contradictory myths surround religion in contemporary America. The first is that secularization is rapidly and inevitably changing America from a religious nation into a secular state. This myth emerges from early sociological theorizing about how modernization in general and science and education in particular would undermine the superstitious and tribal basis of religion ( Hammond, 1985; Hadden, 1987; Wuthnow , 1976). The second holds that America is undergoing a great, religious revival. It is asserted that the televangelists and political preachers like Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority are not only reviving that old time religion, but also successfully placing the goals of the New Christian Right at the top of the political agenda ( Kelley, 1972; Mueller, 1983; Yinger and Cutler, 1982).

Survey data question both of these popular interpretations. Available data cover basic beliefs about God and an afterlife back to the 1940s and religious behaviors such as prayer, church attendance, and religious affiliation over the last two decades. In addition two key items closely related to Fundamentalism and the New Christian Right, belief in Bible inerrancy and attitudes toward school prayers, can be followed from the mid-1960s to the present.

Overall, the main pattern that emerges is not one of major change, but of basic stability. Religious beliefs, behaviors, and preferences have have not undergone striking shifts, but rather have been part of America's bedrock culture ( Greeley, forthcoming). Belief in God has been in the mid to upper 90s for the last forty years (Table 13.1) and faith in an afterlife has been around 75 percent in both the 1940s and the 1980s (with a slight dip to the upper 60s in the 1970s) (Table 13.8).

Religious behaviors have also shown basic consistency. During the 1970s and 1980s a little over half reported that


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Trends in Public Opinion: A Compendium of Survey Data


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 330

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?