Americans Share Perspective on Religion in Survey

January 10, 2001

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On January 10, 2001, The Christian Science Monitor reported that "according to an in-depth national report released today, a large US majority wants religion's influence on society to increase...Americans remain deeply concerned about a loss of moral moorings in the US, and they are looking to religion as the best means to right the ship." People are concerned about the rise of materialism, greed, and a general "loss of moral moorings in the US," and look to religion to help reestablish a moral framework. Respondents had "an intrinsic respect for pluralism, a deep commitment to religious freedom; and in wanting more religion, they say it can be any religion, not just their own," according to Deborah Wadsworth, Public Agenda president. "Americans place a remarkable confidence in the influence of school prayer: 56 percent call it one of the most effective ways to improve youths' values and behavior, and 74 percent say it teaches that faith in religion and God is an important part of life... Fifty-three percent prefer 'a moment of silence'; 20 percent, a prayer referring to God, but no specific religion; 19 percent say 'avoid all of these'; and only 6 percent say 'a Christian prayer.'" Jews were significantly more hesitant about any type of school prayer, with "60 percent wanting to avoid any action." Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Center for Jewish Learning, attributes this to historical use of Christian language which marginalized the Jewish faith.