Religion Losing Influence in U.S

The Topeka Capital-Journal, September 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

Religion Losing Influence in U.S


A new Pew Research Center survey of opinion about the importance of religion in American life presents an interesting picture.

Over the past 12 years, the percentage of Americans who think religion is losing influence in American life has increased dramatically. In 2002, 52 percent of those surveyed said religion is losing influence. In 2014, 72 percent of Americans said religion is losing influence.

However, most feel this is a bad thing. Fifty-six percent say the waning influence of religion is a bad thing compared to 12 percent who say it is a good thing.

In a 2012 survey by Pew 2012, 58 percent of Americans said religion was "very important" and only 18 percent said it was not "too important" or "not important at all."

This raises some interesting questions. One is why, when Americans think religion is very important, the percentage of Americans who think religion is losing influence in America has increased almost 40 percent over the past 14 years?

Another question is, what are the political implications? In the Republican Party, there is an increasingly vocal libertarian- leaning faction that sees religion as costly political baggage. I attribute the fact almost three fourths of Americans feel religion is losing influence in American life to the law of unintended consequences.

Many Americans have been unwittingly supporting policies for more than a half-century that they thought were good ideas and consistent with their values, while being neither. Now, more Americans are beginning to appreciate the damage that has been done and how far the nation has strayed from its sense of right and wrong.

Take the example of welfare.

When the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program was expanded in the 1960s, it seemed morally correct for government to get more aggressive in the lives of the poor, particularly poor black women. …

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