Washington, DC, March 10, 2022
The findings of this study come from a survey conducted by Ipsos for the Episcopal Church. The study, conducted using the probability-based KnowledgePanel among a nationally representative sample of 3,119 Americans, age 18 and older from November 22 through December 2, 2021. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The study has a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The majority of Americans believe Jesus is an important spiritual figure and want equality in society. However, Americans are not necessarily practicing what Jesus taught. Americans feel judged when talking about their beliefs.
- The majority of Americans (84%) believe Jesus was an important spiritual figure, even those Americans who identify as not religious or have no religion (50%).
- One unifying belief that all Americans support, regardless of their background, social standing, or religion, is the desire for their children to grow up in a world where everyone is treated equally (86%).
- Nine in ten Christians say Jesus is an important figure in their life (88%). Black (93%) and LatinX (91%) Christians are more likely to say Jesus is an important figure in their lives than White Christians (86%); although he is still an important figure for the vast majority of White Christians.
- Americans believe Jesus teaches you to love your neighbor (64%), love God (58%) and not judge others without first judging yourself (54%). Yet, only a small minority of Christians (only 13% of Evangelicals, 25% of Catholics and 25% of Mainline Protestants) recognized not judging others as one of the most important teachings.
- Christians are most comfortable discussing Jesus, His life, and His teachings with family (49%), other Christians (43%), people who share their religious beliefs (48%) and least comfortable discussing Jesus with co-workers (20%), people who don’t share their religious beliefs (20%), or non-Christians (22%). Evangelicals are significantly more comfortable talking to every group of people about Jesus, His life, and His teachings with all groups of people than non-Evangelicals.
- Almost half of Americans (41%) agree that people who talk about their conservative beliefs are often disrespected. Men (43%) were more likely in agreement with this statement than women (37%) and Republicans and Conservatives (59.6%) were more likely in agreement with this statement than Democrats or Independents or Liberals.
There is a fundamental disconnect between how Christians and Non-Christians view of Christians and the role of the Church in addressing social and racial inequality today.
- Christians describe themselves as being giving (57%), compassionate (56%), loving (55%), respectful (50%) and friendly (49%). While non-Christians associate Christians with characteristics like hypocrisy (50%), being judgmental (49%), self-righteousness (46%), and arrogance (32%).
- Half of Evangelicals (50%) report the Christians they know represent the values and teachings of Jesus a lot. While only 2% of those who identify as non religious/no religion report the Christians they know represent the values and teachings of Jesus a lot.
- When asked about racism, nearly half of Americans (46%) believe that racism exists in the church today.
- Yet, almost a quarter of Conservatives (24%) compared to 7% of Liberals AGREE that churches that discuss racism and slavery are doing it to make white people feel bad about themselves.
- Whites (16%) and Hispanics (18%) were more likely to agree that churches that discuss racism and slavery are doing it to make white people feel bad about themselves.
The pandemic has had a negative impact on religion and has changed how Americans find spiritual fulfillment.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has decreased participation in organized religion or religious activities for about three in ten Americans (31%). Christians (39%) and, specifically, Evangelicals (45%) are more likely to say COVID-19 has caused them to reduce their participation in organized religion or spiritual activities.
- Only one-third Americans say they are highly satisfied with their spiritual health (35%), which is only surpassed by their level of satisfaction with their spouse or significant other (49%) and relationships with friends and family (43%).
- Almost half of Americans (45%) found being outdoors or in nature to be the most spiritually fulfilling activities followed by prayer (42%) and giving to charity (28%).
Religion is losing influence in America, especially among young people.
- Three in four Americans are Christian, whether that falls under Catholic (25%), mainline Protestant (14%), other Protestant (19%), or other Christian religion (17%).
- One in five Americans are not religious; either Agnostic (12%) or Atheist (7%), while about six percent belong to another religion; such as Judaism (2%), Buddhism (1%), Hinduism (1%), or something else (3%).
- Younger Americans are more likely to say they are not religious (Gen Z 24% and Millennials 28%) than their older counterparts (Gen X 18% and Baby Boomers 12%).
- The majority of Americans (68%) say they are not involved in a religious community/church/mosque/synagogue/temple.
- Thinking about now versus 5 years ago, 37% of Americans say they think religion in America is LESS important.
Religion is not as divisive as we think it is.
- While a quarter of (28%) Americans say religion divides the country, 38% of Americans believe religion makes the country stronger.
- Non-religious or Americans practicing other religions are more likely to say religion is divisive. Half of non-religious Americans (50%) and two in five Americans who practice other religions (38%) say religion divides the country.
- Contrary to popular narrative, 63% of Americans do not associate the events at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6th with an organized religion. Only 1 in 10 (11%) Americans believe the events on January 6th are associated with organized religion.
- Of those who thought January 6th was associated with organized religion, 63% of them attributed it to Evangelical or Protestant Christians.
About the Study
This survey for the Episcopal Church was conducted November 22 – December 2, 2021, by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 3,119 general population adults age 18 or older.
The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.28. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on other sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.
The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Our recruitment and sampling methodologies from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.
The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, race/ethnicity by gender, race/ethnicity by age, and race/ethnicity by education. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) except for the metropolitan status, which is not available from the 1-year ACS data, were obtained from the 2020 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS).
- Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
- Education (Less than High School, High School, Some College, Bachelor or higher)
- Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West) by Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
- Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
- Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Gender (Male, Female)
- Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Age (18-44, 45+)
- Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Education (Some College or less, Bachelor and beyond)
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