Poll: Majority of U.S. Adults Say Religion Is Losing Influence After Pandemic Faith Surge

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The perception of religious influence in the United States has hit a near record-low following a surge in faith during the pandemic, according to a Gallup poll report released Monday.

Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults now say religion is losing its influence, up from 58 percent in April 2020. Perception that religion is gaining influence on American life has sunk to 16 percent after it doubled last spring to 38 percent, poll data shows. The percentage hasn’t been this low since 1969 and 1970 polls, which came in at 14 percent.

According to Gallup, perception of religious influence has been on the decline for almost as long as they’ve been conducting the poll — which is nearly 60 years. However, Americans tend to view the role of religion as much more influential during times of chaos. For example, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened in 2001, “a record-high 71% of U.S. adults thought religion was becoming more influential as the nation dealt with that crisis and threat to safety.”

“Now, with many Americans vaccinated against the disease and COVID-19 infections falling, U.S. public opinion on the influence of religion has returned to pre-pandemic levels, sitting just slightly above the historical low point,” the Gallup report reads.

The results also coincide with reports of lagging church attendance, Gallup reported. Church attendance is still behind what it was before the pandemic and is lower than it was in previous decades.

According to Gallup:

The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a formal place of worship has fallen below the majority level for the first time. With increasing numbers of U.S. adults, particularly young adults, lacking a religious affiliation, the likelihood of religion becoming more influential seems low. However, as Gallup’s trends show, in times of national crisis Americans perceive that religion is becoming more influential, at least temporarily.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 3-18, 2021. The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

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