The latest Gallup Poll to look at the religiosity of Americans shows that Americans trust religious institutions at level not seen since the last low in 1970 while at the same time Americas appear to want what religion offers more than ever.
The editorial board at The Christian Science Monitor asks ‘what’s up with that?’
The latest poll, released Wednesday, shows the most negative public opinion toward the impact of religion since 1970….
“…In 1969 and 1970, with the Vietnam War raging in controversial fashion and with the cultural and sexual revolutions underway, and to a lesser degree at times in the 1990s, Americans held negative views similar to those they hold today,” wrote Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport in an analysis of the poll. “The degree to which these views changed during the Reagan years, and after 9/11, suggest that they could change again in the years ahead.”
This year’s poll also asked if society would be better if more Americans were religious. More than three-quarters said yes. Even a majority of those with little or no religious affiliation agreed. This suggests most people look to religion as a necessity during times of social change. Religion, in other words, may appear to gain respect to more people because it offers a comforting role or makes a case for personal sacrifice. Many people, either the faithful or those who are not, see it as both defining goodness and demonstrating it.
Could this be another take on the current “spiritual but nor religious” phenomenon or simply reflective of an overall mis-trust of anything institutional?