In God Is Alive and Well, which hits bookshelves today, Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport reveals that religion is as powerful and influential as it's ever been in America. Newport argues that religion may be more significant in years ahead, and we may be on the cusp of a religious renaissance.
Popular books by the "New Atheists" dismiss religion as a delusional artifact of ancient superstitions. "However, millions of Americans' religious beliefs and behaviors should not be tossed aside that quickly," says Newport. "Whether or not God is a 'delusion,' religion has enormous personal and social consequences, particularly for those who are extremely religious," Newport explains.
The book is based on the more than 1 million interviews Gallup has conducted with Americans since 2008. Dr. Newport analyzes this unparalleled and unprecedented database of information about Americans and their religions -- revealing just how powerfully intertwined religion is with every aspect of society.
Key findings from the book include:
- Religion is good for your health -- religious Americans have higher wellbeing.
- Religious institutions will probably have to give women more power in the future because of this contradiction: Even though women are more religious than men, some religious institutions deny women access to higher positions in their organizations.
- Religious intensity is correlated with Republican political identity in the United States today. Democrats will most likely realize that they will have to relate their political philosophy to religion if they are to compete for the valuable bloc of religious voters.
- Based on their religious characteristics and their stance on many moral and values issues, blacks in America should identify as predominantly Republican, but they do not.
- Increasingly, Americans don't have a religious identity, or they identify with broad religious labels rather than with specific denominations.
- Unbranded, nondenominational religions and megachurches are growing.
- Baby boomers will most likely become more religious as they age. Given the sheer size of the baby boomer generation, the entire nation will thus tilt more religious in the years ahead.
- No matter what your religious identity, if you live in Vermont (least religious state in the country), you are less religious than if you have the same religious identity and live in Mississippi (most religious state in country).
- Upper-class, more educated people use religion less for its personal value and more for its communal, social value compared with Americans in lower classes.
- Religiousness is strongly correlated with being married, but it's unclear if marriage causes religiousness or if religiousness causes marriage -- or if there is no causal relationship at all.
America will likely become a more religious nation in the years ahead, albeit different than it is today. "The evidence in this book suggests that America could continue to blaze its own religious trail with religion changing, morphing, and transmuting itself into new but still vibrant forms," says Newport.
God Is Alive and Well is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere books are sold.
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