Aug 24, 2016 10:00 am

Why America’s ‘nones’ left religion behind

Photo of empty pews in a church
(Photo by Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of adults who do not identify with a religious group. And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood.

As part of a new survey connected to our broader Religious Landscape Study, we asked these people to explain, in their own words, why they no longer identify with a religious group. This resulted in hundreds of different responses (after all, everyone’s religious experience is a bit different), but many of them shared one of a few common themes.

About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention “science” as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said “I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.” Others reference “common sense,” “logic” or a “lack of evidence” – or simply say they do not believe in God.  Read More

Topics: Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

Aug 23, 2016 1:53 pm

Partisans see opposing party as more ideological than their own

Political parties’ ideological stances are in the eye of the beholder: Republicans and Democrats see the opposite party as more ideologically extreme than their own, which they tend to consider more moderate.

In a recent Pew Research Center study of political animosity, respondents were asked to rate themselves and both political parties on an 11-point ideological scale, ranging from very liberal to very conservative.

Members of both parties most commonly place the other party on the extreme end of the scale. Among Democrats, 34% placed the GOP at the most conservative point. Even more Republicans – 45% – put the Democratic Party at the liberal extreme.

Majorities in both parties view the other party as closer to the ideological extreme than the center. Nearly six-in-ten Democrats (58%) place the Republican Party at one of the three most conservative points on the scale (0-2), while 69% of Republicans place the Democratic Party on the most liberal points (8-10).

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Topics: 2016 Election, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties

Aug 23, 2016 10:00 am

What do Americans look for in a church, and how do they find one? It depends in part on their age

About half of all Americans have looked for a new congregation at some point in their lives. But how they have searched, and what they were seeking, has depended to some degree on their age.

Younger adults were more likely than older Americans to turn to the web or to other people when looking for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study has found. They also were less likely to prioritize religious education for children when choosing a church, possibly reflecting the fact that in recent years people have been waiting longer to have children.

It might not be surprising that young adults are more likely to look online for information about a congregation, given that younger Americans in general are more likely to use the internet than older adults. Perhaps more striking are the age differences associated with seeking advice from others when choosing a church: At least three-quarters of adults under 30 talked to a congregation member (75%) or a friend (82%) as part of their search, compared with just over half (55% and 54% respectively) of people 65 or older.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Aug 22, 2016 11:28 am

Europeans back anti-ISIS campaign but have doubts about use of force in fighting terror

After a year of escalating terror attacks against Western targets, people across Europe are widely supportive of U.S.-led military action against the Islamic militant group in Iraq and Syria known as ISIS. But when it comes to a broader strategy to defeat terrorism around the world, many Europeans fear relying too much on military force will create hatred that leads to more terrorism.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted this spring, before the most recent terror attacks in France and Germany, found that a median of 76% across 10 European countries saw ISIS as a major threat to their nation and 69% supported U.S.-led military actions against the group.

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Topics: Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Terrorism, Wars and International Conflicts

Aug 19, 2016 12:17 pm

Trump supporters far less confident than Clinton backers that votes will be counted accurately

In a campaign marked by skepticism toward the political process, only about half of all registered voters (49%) are “very confident” that their vote will be accurately counted in the upcoming election. This view is particularly striking among supporters of Donald Trump and stands in contrast to the 2004 and 2008 elections, when substantial majorities of voters who backed George W. Bush and John McCain expressed confidence in the count of their votes.

Pew Research Center’s new national political survey finds that just 38% of registered voters who support Trump are very confident their vote will be accurately counted. Another 31% say they are somewhat confident, while 30% have little or no confidence their vote will be counted accurately.

Among Clinton supporters, 67% have a high degree of confidence that their vote will be counted accurately and 25% are somewhat confident. Just 7% have little or no confidence.

The gap between the two camps is about as large among those who express confidence in an accurate vote count nationally. Nearly half of Clinton supporters (49%) and just 11% of Trump supporters are highly confident that votes across the country will be counted accurately.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, Political Party Affiliation, Trust in Government, Voter Participation

Aug 16, 2016 11:12 am

In both parties, men and women differ over whether women still face obstacles to progress

As Hillary Clinton seeks to become the first woman to win the presidency in U.S. history, the public is divided over whether women continue to face obstacles that make it more difficult for them to get ahead.

Just over half of Americans (53%) say there are “still significant obstacles that make it harder for women to get ahead than men,” while somewhat fewer (45%) say “the obstacles that once made it harder for women than men to get ahead are now largely gone.”

The survey, conducted June 7-July 5 among 4,602 adults on Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel, finds significant differences on this question by gender.

A 63% majority of women say obstacles continue to make it harder for women than men today, compared with 34% who say they are largely gone. Among men, 41% think women still face obstacles that make it harder to get ahead, while 56% say those challenges have mostly been eliminated. (For more on women in society, see the Center’s report “Women and Leadership,” released last year.)

There is a substantial partisan divide on this question: Nearly seven-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (68%) say there are still significant obstacles for women, compared with just 35% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

Gender differences on the issue of women’s obstacles are also evident within the two party coalitions. Republican women are divided on the issue overall (48% say there are still obstacles, 50% say these challenges for women in getting ahead are largely gone), but they are more than twice as likely as Republican men (23%) to say there are still significant obstacles facing women today. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Gender, National Economy, Political Attitudes and Values

Aug 16, 2016 7:00 am

Nearly half of refugees entering the U.S. this year are Muslim

The U.S. has received 28,957 Muslim refugees so far in fiscal year 2016, or nearly half (46%) of the more than 63,000 refugees who have entered the country since the fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. That means that already this year the U.S. has admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year since data on self-reported religious affiliations first became publicly available in 2002.

Christians are the second-largest group of refugees to the U.S. so far this fiscal year; 27,556 Christian refugees have entered the country, nearly as many as the number of Muslim refugees. A slightly lower share of 2016’s refugees were Christian (44%) than Muslim, the first time that has happened since fiscal 2006, when a large number of Somali refugees entered the U.S.

People seeking to enter the U.S. as refugees are processed overseas. As part of the process, they are asked a series of questions, including their religious affiliation. When their applications are approved, refugees travel to the U.S. to be resettled by nonprofit groups associated with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Refugees to the U.S. are different from asylum seekers, who claim asylum after already being in the U.S. or crossing into the U.S. via an airport or land border.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Christians and Christianity, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, Muslims and Islam, Religious Affiliation

Aug 15, 2016 12:30 pm

In debates, voters want to hear most about terrorism and the economy

If the 2016 presidential debates move forward as planned, voters have some clear preferences about what issues they want to hear the candidates talk about more – or less – in those forums. Given the chance to decide how much time is spent on each issue, voters would allocate more time to discussions of the candidates’ plans on keeping the U.S. safe from terrorism and on economic growth and much less time to discussion of abortion policy.

In a Pew Research Center American Trends Panel survey conducted in June, 3,767 registered voters were asked to imagine they were moderating a 100-minute national debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and to allocate that time across 10 issue areas.

On average, voters allocated 15 of a total 100 minutes to hearing the candidates’ plans for keeping the U.S. safe from terrorism. Just over half of voters (53%) earmarked more than 10 minutes to this topic, while only 18% gave it less than 10 minutes (29% gave it exactly 10 minutes).

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Topics: 2016 Election, Abortion, Domestic Affairs and Policy, Economic Policy, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Political Issue Priorities, Terrorism, U.S. Political Figures

Aug 12, 2016 7:00 am

Most states allow religious exemptions from child abuse and neglect laws

All states prosecute parents whose children come to severe harm through neglect. But in 34 states (as well as the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico), there are exemptions in the civil child abuse statutes when medical treatment for a child conflicts with the religious beliefs of parents, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, some states have religious exemptions to criminal child abuse and neglect statutes, including at least six that have exemptions to manslaughter laws.

These exemptions recently drew renewed attention in Idaho when, in May, a state task force released a report stating that five children there had died unnecessarily in 2013 because their parents, for religious reasons, had refused medical treatment for them. The report has prompted some of Idaho’s legislators to begin pushing for a repeal of state laws that protected the parents of these children from civil and criminal liability when they refuse to seek medical treatment for religious reasons.  Read More

Topics: Health Care, Parenthood, Religion and Government, Religion and Society

Aug 11, 2016 10:00 am

A record 60.6 million Americans live in multigenerational households

The number and share of Americans living in multigenerational family households has continued to rise, even though the Great Recession is now in the rear-view mirror. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Multigenerational family living – defined as a household that includes two or more adult generations, or one that includes grandparents and grandchildren – is growing among nearly all U.S. racial groups as well as Hispanics, among all age groups and among both men and women.  The share of the population living in this type of household declined from 21% in 1950 to a low of 12% in 1980. Since then, multigenerational living has rebounded, increasing sharply during and immediately after the Great Recession of 2007-09.  Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Household and Family Structure, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity