Americans narrowly tend to think the decline of religious affiliation is not a bad thing and most oppose the involvement of organized religion in politics
A recent study from the Pew Research Center shows that Americans without a religious affiliation have overtaken Catholics to become the second largest religious group in the country. 23% of Americans now say that they are religiously unaffiliated, up from 16% in 2007. Evangelical Christians are still the largest group, though their numbers have dropped slightly from 26% to 25% of the population.
YouGov's latest research shows that Americans who think that the decline in religious affiliation is a bad thing (41%) are narrowly outnumbered by the 48% of Americans who think that this is neither good nor bad (31%) or even a good thing (17%). There is a clear political divide in responses to this, however, as Republicans (68%) are three times more likely than Democrats (23%) to think that declining religious affiliation is a bad thing. Democrats (23%) are also three times more likely than Republicans (7%) to view the trend positively.
Protestants (59%) are also more likely than Catholics (44%) to regard the decline in religious observance as a bad thing. Among atheists and agnostics 62% say that this decline is a good thing.
When forced to choose, a small majority of Americans (54%) also say that 'organized religious groups of all kinds should stay out of politics', while 46% disagree and say that 'it is important for organized religious groups to stand up for their belief in politics'. Younger Americans are more likely than older ones to oppose the involvement of organized religion in politics, and over-65s are the only group (52% to 48%) which tends to support the involvement of organized religion in politics.
'God Bless America'
Most Americans do agree on one thing, however: that God has uniquely blessed the United States. 57% think that God has uniquely blessed the country while 32% disagree. Only the youngest Americans, those aged between 18 and 29, are more likely to say that America has not been uniquely blessed (46%) than has been uniquely blessed (42%). A majority of every age group aged 30 and over agrees that America has been uniquely blessed.
While Democrats (49% to 38%) as well as Republicans (78% to 13%) tend to think that America is uniquely blessed by God, one other group besides under-30s doubt that providence shines particularly brightly on the United States – people living in Northeast, only 38% of whom believe that America is uniquely blessed and 47% of whom say that it is not.