Seven in 10 Americans say religion is losing its influence on American life -- one of the highest such responses in Gallup's 53-year history of asking this question, and significantly higher than in the first half of the past decade.
Americans' views of the influence of religion in the U.S. have fluctuated substantially in the years since 1957, when Gallup first asked this question. At that point, perhaps reflecting the general focus on family values that characterized the Eisenhower era, 69% of Americans said religion was increasing its influence, the most in Gallup's history.
Gallup's trends reflecting more personal views of religion do not show the same patterns of fluctuation as the broader questions about American society. What trends there are provide a somewhat mixed message. While almost all measures show that Americans were more religious in the 1940s and 1950s than in recent decades, Americans appear to be as personally religious now as they were in the late 1970s and 1980s. Church and synagogue membership, on the other hand, has drifted downward in a more steady fashion. The current 61% of Americans who report being a church or synagogue member is as low as has been measured by Gallup since the 1930s.
And Nathan Burstein writes at The Jewish Daily Forward:
In a popularity contest among U.S. religious groups, Jews would win, according to a newly published book.
That finding – that “Jews are the most broadly popular religious group in America today” – is contained in “American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides,” and is based on the book’s survey of 3,000 Americans of all religious backgrounds.
“The most popular religious group in America today is Jews…What’s so interesting about that is that it was only a generation ago or two generations ago when Jewish-Americans would have been viewed as at the bottom of the heap,” said one of the book’s co-authors, Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell, in a radio interview on “The Marc Steiner Show.” “They are the ones who were viewed as being alien or foreign. That’s no longer the case, and that gives us hope that those at the bottom now can actually climb.”