By Aaron Earls
As Americans grow accustomed to turning to Google for help, God no longer seems as relevant.
For the first time since Gallup began asking in 1957, less than half of Americans (46 percent) say religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. A growing number—up to 39 percent—see religion as largely old-fashioned and out of date.
Unsurprisingly, the more one attends church, the more likely they are to believe religion does have the answers.
Eight in 10 weekly church attenders (81 percent) say religion can answer today’s problems. More than half of nearly weekly and monthly attendees (58 percent) agree.
But 27 percent of those who attend less often see religion as having the answers, while 58 percent say it is old-fashioned and out of date.
Fewer than 1 in 10 religiously unaffiliated Americans (9 percent) believe religion has answers for today. Seventy-three percent see it as largely out of date.
“The public is now more closely divided than ever before in its views of religion as the answer to what ails society,” said Gallup’s report.
Yet in Gallup’s most recent survey, 62 percent of Americans say religion is at least fairly important in their own life, with 51 percent saying it’s very important.
Among self-identified Christians, 87 percent say religion is important to them and 62 percent say it’s very important.
In the 1950s and 60s, 7 in 10 Americans said religion was very important to them. By 1978, however, that number had dropped to 52 percent. It has fluctuated between 49 percent and 64 percent since then.
As fewer Americans see religion as important or able to answer life’s problems, fewer see its influence on life in America increasing.[epq-quote align=”align-right”]“The public is now more closely divided than ever before in its views of religion as the answer to what ails society.”[/epq-quote]Today, 78 percent say religion is losing its influence on the nation, with 19 percent saying it’s increasing.
That follows a trend growing since 2002, when many Americans viewed religion as increasingly important in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The current 78 percent of Americans who say religion is losing its influence on American life matches its historical high, recorded in May 2016,” according to Gallup’s report.
Those who attend church weekly are less likely to say religion is losing influence, but only slightly. Seventy-six percent of weekly church attendees believe religion is losing its influence, compared to 79 percent of those who attend nearly weekly or monthly and 78 percent of those who attend less often.
Protestants are the most likely to say religion is losing influence. More than 8 in 10 (82 percent) agree, while 74 percent of Catholics and 73 percent of the religiously unaffiliated also say religion is losing its influence.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.