By Aaron Earls
Religion is facing a perception problem in America. More people see it as old-fashioned.
According to new research from Gallup, 34 percent of Americans say religion is “largely old-fashioned and out of date.” That’s up from 7 percent in 1957.
Meanwhile, 55 percent of Americans believe religion can answer all or most of today’s problems.
That number has stabilized in the last couple of years after dropping to a record low of 51 percent in 2015. But it is down from 82 percent in 1957 and 66 percent just 15 years ago.
The remaining 10 percent say they have no opinion on whether religion can solve problems today.
As expected, those who are more religious tend to see religion as having answers for modern issues. More than 4 in 5 weekly church attenders (85 percent) see the value of religion today. Only 5 percent say it’s out of date.
Most of those who attend nearly weekly or monthly view religion as important as well. Almost 7 in 10 (69 percent) say religion can answer today’s problems and 19 percent say it’s old-fashioned.
Not surprisingly, those who seldom or never attend church are the least likely to view the church as a modern-day problem solver. Only 33 percent believe that to be the case, while a clear majority (58 percent) says religion is out of date.
Protestants are the most likely to believe religion can answer modern problems. Seventy-one percent agree. Fewer than 1 in 5 (19 percent) see it as old-fashioned.
More than 4 in 5 Americans with no religious affiliation (81 percent) believe religion is out of date. Only 9 percent think it can address problems today.
The growth of skepticism about religion’s ability to solve current issues coincides with growth of those who see the Bible as a completely man-made book.
Today, according to other research from Gallup, more than a quarter of Americans (26 percent) believe the Bible is a mix of “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.” That is up from 10 percent in the early 1980s.
AARON EARLS (Aaron.Earls@Lifeway.com) is online editor of Facts & Trends.