Religion Thriving in the US, According to Baylor Study

September 11, 2006

Source: Houston Chronicle

On September 11, 2006 the Houston Chronicle reported, "Contrary to the impression given on the campaign trail, Americans do not believe God favors one political party over another, according to a national survey released today by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. The American Piety in the 21st Century survey also found that religion is not in decline in the United States as reported by previous national studies. Overall, only 4 percent believe that God favors a political party. Among the roughly 100 million identified as evangelical Protestants by the survey, 8.1 percent hold that belief. However, nearly a fifth (18.6 percent) of respondents believe God favors the United States in world affairs. Among evangelicals, 26 percent think God is on the side of the United States. In what researchers described as one of the most comprehensive studies of the U.S. religious landscape, the survey found that 89 percent of Americans attend a local congregation or affiliate with a denomination. The finding rebuts other national surveys showing that 14 percent or more of Americans were 'religious nones' — people with no religious backgrounds. 'We find that barely one in 10 truly have no religious affiliation in America,' said Kevin Dougherty, Baylor University assistant professor of sociology. 'Prior national surveys have concluded that 10 million people are not religious who actually are in church every Sunday — praying, believing in a God; 10 million Americans counted as religious nones.' The earlier findings led some scholars to theorize that the increase in religious nonaffiliation signaled a rise of secularization comparable to that in Europe, Dougherty said. Baylor researchers went beyond asking people to identify their faith or denomination and asked for names and addresses of any worship centers they attend, he said. 'We find that just asking about religious preference, 33 percent of respondents said, "I don't know about my religion,"' Dougherty said. 'But five questions later, they gave us the name of their congregation.' The confusion stems from the rise of nondenominational churches, he said."