This article was first published in the State of Faith newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Monday night.
Last week, Deseret News and The Marist Poll released their first “Faith in America” survey, which explored religion’s evolving role in American life. So far, I’ve used the new data to write about some of the reasons why people are less interested in organized religion today than they were in the past and Americans’ beliefs about wearing religious attire in public.
My teammates have also contributed articles and columns to the ongoing project. Jennifer Graham discussed anxieties surrounding the concept of a “post-Christian society” and Mya Jaradat explored the enduring popularity of the golden rule.
Despite the quantity (and quality!) of these stories, my colleagues and I have only scratched the surface of what’s in the “Faith in America” survey report. For this week’s newsletter, I wanted to highlight a few other fascinating data points that haven’t yet made it into a Deseret News story.
Half of Americans say religion plays a role in their social lives.
Around 1 in 5 U.S. adults (22%) report that their religious beliefs and faith-related activities play a “major role” in their social network. An additional 28% say religion plays a more minor role.
“Republicans (35%) are nearly twice as likely as Democrats (18%) and Independents (18%) to report their religion plays a major role in deciding with whom they spend time,” researchers noted.
Many Americans are skeptical that gun rights are inspired by God.
More than half of U.S. adults (55%) believe the Constitution, as a whole, was inspired by God, according to the Deseret-Marist poll. Similar shares of Americans said the same about the First Amendment (free speech and freedom of religion), 15th Amendment (voting rights for Black men) and 19th Amendment (voting rights for women).
Americans are less confident about divine support for the Second Amendment, which guarantees the “right to keep and bear arms.” The survey showed that just 37% of U.S. adults say the Second Amendment is inspired by God.
Oprah is an uncommon source of moral guidance.
Oprah may be a hugely popular celebrity, but she’s not a common source of moral guidance. Just 1 in 10 U.S. adults look to her for tips on how to live a moral life, the Deseret-Marist poll found.
Fresh off the press
- Why nearly all Americans support public displays of faith
- Supreme Court rules in favor of death row inmate raising religious freedom concerns
- The state of faith
Term of the week: Stay
In the legal context, “stay” refers to a court decision that halts a legal proceeding. In most cases, stays are only temporary; they expire once various details are worked out.
Stays often come up in death penalty cases, since those typically involve many requests for delay. A court might stay an execution to give parties involved the time needed to address lingering questions.
Last week, the Supreme Court granted a partial stay in an ongoing battle over the Navy’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The decision will allow Navy officials to temporarily refuse to deploy unvaccinated service members. Previously, district and appeals court judges had ruled that the Navy could not take any adverse action against people with religious concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines.
What I’m reading ...
My friend Daniel Silliman recently completed a once-in-a-career assignment: investigating instances of sexual harassment within his own organization. He wrote about allegations against two former Christianity Today leaders and how the organization spent years protecting those men instead of the people concerned about their behavior. Slate recently spoke with Silliman about covering abuse at CT and elsewhere.
This year’s St. Peter’s Peacocks may be out of the March Madness basketball tournament, but they’ll live on in my heart. If the same is true for you, check out Religion Unplugged’s look at the scrappy, Roman Catholic school.
I really enjoyed The New York Times’ look at the story behind one of the most shared photos from Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings.
Odds and ends
The Deseret News recently published an interesting look at the land on which the Washington D.C. temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was built.
If you have room in your heart and brain for more survey data, check out this new report from the Survey Center on American Life on Gen Z and the future of faith.