The United States may be a nation under God, but it’s increasingly one that doesn’t recognize the power above it.
Per a new Gallup poll, fewer Americans believe in God than at any other time across 78 years of being asked.
In 1944, 98 percent identified themselves as believers. That number remained in 1947, as it did during the ’50s and ’60s.
In 2011, however, faith took a dive: Only 92 percent answered yes.
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Two years later, the number had dropped five points. It steadied through 2017, the last time Gallup surveyed the country.
And now, in 2022 — some might say a more difficult year than many since the mid-twentieth century — only 81 percent of the nation’s populace subscribe to the existence of a higher power.
The particulars lie as you likely expect:
Belief in God has fallen the most in recent years among young adults and people on the left of the political spectrum (liberals and Democrats). These groups show drops of 10 or more percentage points comparing the 2022 figures to an average of the 2013-2017 polls.
Most other key subgroups have experienced at least a modest decline, although conservatives and married adults have had essentially no change.
The groups with the largest declines are also the groups that are currently least likely to believe in God, including liberals (62 percent), young adults (68 percent) and Democrats (72 percent). Belief in God is highest among political conservatives (94 percent) and Republicans (92 percent), reflecting that religiosity is a major determinant of political divisions in the U.S.
As faith fades, in what do we instead believe? As suggested by signs around us, we believe in ourselves. And not only that, but a new morality insists that’s the most righteous faith of all.
Sadly, it isn’t so. Despite the greatness of the song, the greatest love of all isn’t that which we have for ourselves. In an earlier time and for thousands of years, such affection was identified as “selfishness.” A great love, as was stated long ago, is the sort in which one will “lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
We were also once instructed to “do to others as [we] would have them do to [us].”
In both cases, virtue was defined by one’s treatment of and consideration for those around them. Such was a moral law, but perhaps those can only exist if there is a God.
In the absence of God and of law, we may then focus wholly on ourselves. And in that case, we are each a god. Such appears to be a popular pursuit — contemporary righteousness calls us to be “empowered.”
How is our empowerment working out? According to cultural cues, it would seem not well — we are empowered, only so long as everyone tells us so. Any refusal to confirm our strength causes “harm” and must be stopped.
If that’s our best attempt at power, we haven’t got a prayer.
Speaking of, here’s Gallup with more:
A follow-up question in the survey probed further into what Americans’ belief in God entails. Specifically, the question asked whether God hears prayers and whether God intervenes when people pray.
About half of those who believe in God — equal to 42% of all Americans — say God hears prayers and can intervene on a person’s behalf. Meanwhile, 28% of all Americans say God hears prayers but cannot intervene, while 11% think God does neither.
Nearly three-quarters of the most religious Americans, defined as those who attend religious services every week, say they believe God hears prayers and can intervene, as do slightly more than half of conservatives and Republicans, as well as 25% of liberals and 32% of Democrats.
Thirty percent of young adults believe God hears prayers and can intervene.
Where is America headed? Wherever it is, the youth of today will be our guides. And if the trend concerning faith continues, we’ll arrive there alone — without the leadership or companionship of a recognized Creator.
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