From the Public Religion Research Institute:
A new PRRI study, “I Know What You Did Last Sunday: Measuring Social Desirability Bias in Self-Reported Religious Behavior, Belief, and Belonging,” asked random samples of Americans identical questions about religious attendance, affiliation, salience and belief in God on two surveys – one via telephone and the other online – and compared the results.
The research shows that every subgroup of Americans inflates their levels of religious participation, with young adults, Catholics and white mainline Protestants particularly likely to inflate the frequency of their attendance at religious services.
The New Republic offers some perspective:
Michael Wear, the director of faith outreach for both of President Obama’s campaigns, says religion is disproportionately represented in politics because it’s equated with compassion, charity, and fairness. “People want to align themselves with those kinds of ideals. People use religion as a stand-in for a whole number of traits we deem desirable from a secular perspective.”
But does the disparity in liberals’ responses to the PRRI poll suggest that many of them are hesitant to admit publicly that they’re not as religious as they claim?
“I think there’s absolutely a level among liberals of not wanting to be defined by their lack of belief,” says Wear. “But there’s also an element of wanting to hold on to the spiritual benefits or comfort of theological beliefs that come with religion, while not wanting to be associated with a lot of the public implications of faith, including social issues.”
Why do you think liberals can’t seem to get their stories straight about whether they attend church or believe in God?