The approaching election of a new pope and the coming celebrations of special Holy Days in the Christian and Jewish faiths raise curiosity about the level of importance Americans place upon their faith at a time when the pull to secularization is stronger than ever.
Results of a new Rasmussen poll find that most Americans feel more connected to a local church or religious group than to any other institution or organization, including a government or political group. According to the survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, 54 percent of respondents feel at least somewhat connected to their local church or religious organization, with 34 percent who say they are very connected. The survey did not ask for religious affiliation.
The poll found that 42 percent of those surveyed are not at all connected to a local political organization, while only 25 percent say they are not at all connected to a local church or religious group.
According to the poll, 12 percent of those surveyed feel very connected to local charities, sports leagues, or theater groups. Only 7 percent of respondents said they feel very connected to their local government or to the federal government, and only 3 percent feel connected to their state government or local political party or activist group.
Approximately 44 percent of those who identify themselves as Republicans said they feel very connected to their local religious group, as opposed to 30 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of unaffiliated voters.
In an earlier Rasmussen survey of 1,000 adults nationwide released in February, most Americans chose either their church or their country when presented with several levels of community beyond their own family. According to the poll, 35 percent said their strongest personal allegiance other than family is to their church, while 31 percent identified their country as their strongest allegiance. Only 6 percent said the global community was their strongest personal connection.
From the results of both polls, it appears Americans remain a faith-oriented people, with local churches or faith groups providing the greatest amount of connection. Interestingly, despite a significant amount of attention paid in the media to “global” endeavors (i.e., global economy, global warming, etc.), most Americans do not feel connected to these concepts.
As the Catholic Church prepares to elect its next pope, the concept of “subsidiarity” seems well reflected in the most recent Rasmussen poll. This concept, a principle of Catholic social teaching, holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more bureaucratic organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization.
Though some Catholics, even some in leadership, have not abided by subsidiarity either in matters pertaining to the Church or government, Americans seem naturally drawn to smaller, more local faith groups as the places to which they feel the greatest sense of connection.