Americans are far more religious than adults in other wealthy nations


“Americans pray more often, are more likely to attend weekly religious services and ascribe higher importance to faith in their lives than adults in other wealthy, Western democracies, such as Canada, Australia and most European states, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.”

The Pew Research Center is a well known center that conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research. The Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. (from Wikipedia)


Those are pretty weak correlations in those graphs but I guess this is normal in the social sciences. Why we take a lot of their theories as hard truths is questionable when this happens.

What would happen if they considered each country by income bracket? That would reveal additional info the second graph doesn’t.


‘Far more religious’

How does one measure and define that.

What definition is used for ‘religious’.

If we use practising faith, Sunday only Catholics,

Were other denominations include

Were stats adjusted to reflect populations of each country


It has long seemed to me that European-Americans are culturally more like their ancestors than are the descendants of those same ancestors who did not come to America. Quite possibly the most dramatically so are the Scots-Irish in America who occupy a huge swath of the country, including the Ozarks where I live.


Most of these studies in general will categorize weekly or most weekends worship attendance, weekly prayer, and affirming that your faith is “important” as religious. Criteria vary a bit by polling company.

More or less religious is based on these metrics.


Historically, at least as far as English colonists went, the more devout ended up leaving because the English were not quite as fond of the more devout religious groups. The Nonconformists were not well-loved, and there were few tears shed when they sailed for America.


When I was 7 or so, I went to public school. Before school started we recited both The Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Done away with soon after, but as children, the 65+ crowd was exposed to religion on a day to day basis. Add to that the proliferation of Catholic schools and schools of other denominations, and the proliferation of religious exposure to the young in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and even till today in the U.S. and that may be a reason. Given the tendency of society today to throw religion under the bus, and I think the U.S. will “catch up” to the European nations soon as the older generations die off.


I am inclined to agree that’s so except that some of the more devout among the English and the Dutch remained as “Yankees”. Scots-Irish headed for the frontiers and just kept expanding until their leading edge ended up in east Texas. They were more devout in a way, but less so in a way.

This is an interesting topic and might be worthy of a thread all its own, but the “stay behind” Yankees adopted a more social type of religion and morality, which is why all the major protestant reform movements in the U.S. originated there. The idea was to reform society as a whole. “Yankeedom” extends into the Great Lakes region.

Scots-Irish were more oriented to personal morality and didn’t have much in the way of societal cohesiveness beyond the extended family.

It’s interesting that today, and despite secularization, the “reform society” segment of the U.S. is still principally on the eastern seaboard (and it’s echo on the west coast) while “reform individuals” is prevalent in a swath from southern Pennsylvania into the Appalachians, upper south, Smokies, Ozarks, Ouachitas and Texas Hill Country.

And political party allegiance tends to follow the very same pattern and for the same reasons.

Other parts of the country have patterns peculiar to themselves.


This is interesting. I went to a Catholic grade school, then to a public high school. In high school, main stream Protestantism was practically the “state religion”. We had readings from the King James in home room, occasional assemblies featuring protestant ministers, open prayer.

But I and other Catholics really didn’t mind it except that we often didn’t know the words to some of the hymns. It encouraged self-defining, really. Besides, the Fundamentalists were every bit as “out of it” as we were, if not even more so. Their girls, for instance, never cut their hair and wore ankle-length dresses, and the boys always went by their full first names, never nicknames. It was “Robert and James”, never Bob and Jim. The reason for that was that in the bible somewhere it says God will call the elect by name, and if you were used to “Bob” you wouldn’t answer when God called for “Robert”.

But those Fundamentalists knew who they were too, and were never in DeMolay or the Order of Rainbow or any of that stuff we also avoided.

None of that can ever happen again.


Grew up in the N.Y/New Jersey area which were very heavily Catholic at the time. Possibly my experience has a little to do with that.


Where one grew up has a lot to do with what one experiences. And times change. I take it your area is not as heavily Catholic as it once was. True?

Where I live has changed greatly. The once-dominant mainstream protestant sects have massively declined. The Fundamentalist groups have grown a lot, though they’re a bit less strict about things like cutting hair than they once were. Catholics have increased, largely through conversions from the Fundamentalist congregations.

Fundamentalists and CAtholics are not as far apart as is sometimes assumed.


Oh, true. Mainline Protestant communities are vastly depleted (which is a situation throughout mainline Protestantism). The neighborhood where I grew up was homogenous Caucasian, with a majority of Catholics followed by mainline Protestant. Today, that neighborhood looks like downtown Calcutta or Karachi.


I see. Well, where did all the European-Americans go? To some suburb somewhere?

Interesting about the majority of Catholics back then. My wife grew up in Indianapolis in a neighborhood that was almost entirely Catholic. Protestantism was really alien to her, and she was astonished when we moved to “The buckle of the Bible Belt” to see there were places where Catholics were a very small minority. She’s used to it now, of course, and has come to think pretty well of Fundamentalists. They’re “allies” of Catholics in a lot of ways.


A measure of obligation and duty, perhaps, not of faith

That’s an interesting measure to compare between nations and states.


To the best of my knowledge, they just dispersed as society has developed since the 50’s. I actually was raised in a suburb of NYC as a boy. It was post WWII, veterans were getting established and moved on. And the kids didn’t have as many kids as the parents. (see the baby boom generation demographics). It wasn’t one event, but a combination of moving up and moving out as kids grew up to adults that caused the dissolution of the neighborhood. And the influx of Indians and Pakistanis chose that neighborhood to settle because real estate prices were more affordable.


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