More than three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) believe religion is losing influence, according to a recent poll by Gallup. That’s about the same percentage as in 1970. At least 60 percent of Americans thought religion was losing its influence in 1991-1994, in 1997 and 1999, in 2003, and from 2007 to the present.
Americans were more likely to say religion was increasing than decreasing in its influence when the question was first asked in 1957, again in 1962, at a few points in the 1980s during the Reagan administration, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in late 2001 and early 2002, and in 2005. The high point for Americans’ belief that religion is increasing its influence, 71 percent, came in December 2001.
“In 1969 and 1970, with the Vietnam War raging in controversial fashion and with the cultural and sexual revolutions underway, and to a lesser degree at times in the 1990s, Americans held negative views similar to those they hold today,” wrote Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport in an analysis of the poll. “The degree to which these views changed during the Reagan years, and after 9/11, suggest that they could change again in the years ahead.”
Gallup also asked if society would be better off if more Americans were religious. More than three-quarters (75 percent) said yes. Americans who attend church regularly and who say religion is important in their own lives are far more likely than others to say it would be positive for American society if more Americans were religious. Even so, over half of those with little or no religious affiliation agreed.
Many people, both churchgoers those who are not, see religion as a good thing for society.
Read the full Gallup report.