Germany is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, but since the middle of the 20th century, the country has seen a dramatic shift away from Protestantism – one that has greatly outpaced a decline in the share of Germans who are Catholic.
Protestants represented a majority (59%) of Germany’s population in 1950, with Catholics as a sizable minority (37%), according to research by Detlef Pollack and Olaf Müller, scholars of religion and sociology at the University of Münster in Germany. These shares are largely based on church membership rolls that include both children and adults. Over the next 60 years, the share of Protestants fell 30 percentage points, while the share of Catholics dropped 7 points. Each group now includes roughly three-in-ten Germans, based on 2010 membership data.
Declines in the shares of Protestants and Catholics have been accompanied by a rising share of the religiously unaffiliated, who accounted for 30% of Germans in 2010, up from fewer than 4% in 1950. And recent research indicates that the share of Muslims in Germany also has been growing in recent years, due in large part to immigration.
Tuesday is the 210th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a day now celebrated by some as Darwin Day. Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution through natural selection. When Darwin’s work was first made public in 1859, it shocked Britain’s religious establishment. And while today it is accepted by virtually all scientists, evolutionary theory still is rejected by many Americans, often because it conflicts with their religious beliefs about divine creation.
While not an official holiday, Darwin Day has been adopted by scientific and humanist groups to promote everything from scientific literacy to secularism. This year, dozens of events have been planned worldwide, many of them anchored by scientific talks or symposiums.
To mark the occasion, here are six facts about the public’s views on evolution, as well as other aspects of the debate in the U.S. and elsewhere:
1Roughly eight-in-ten U.S. adults (81%) say humans have evolved over time, according to data from a new Pew Research Center study. This includes one-third of all Americans (33%) who say that humans evolved due to processes like natural selection with no involvement by God or a higher power, along with 48% who believe human evolution occurred through processes guided or allowed by God or a higher power. The same survey found that 18% of Americans reject evolution entirely, saying humans have always existed in their present form. (See the full report for a deeper look at the ways question wording and format can affect survey results on evolution.)
A slight majority of Americans (53%) think it is generally unacceptable for a white person to use makeup to darken their skin to appear to be a different race as part of a Halloween costume, including 37% who say this is never acceptable. About one-in-three (34%) say this is always or sometimes acceptable, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
The survey was conducted almost entirely before news broke about Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and other high-profile politicians who have been accused of wearing blackface as part of costumes when they were younger.
White adults are about twice as likely as black adults to say the use of blackface as part of a Halloween costume can be acceptable: 39% of whites hold this view vs. 19% of blacks. Hispanics fall in the middle, with 28% saying this is always or sometimes acceptable.
Among whites, those younger than 30 are far less accepting of the use of blackface. About a quarter of younger whites (27%) say it is at least sometimes acceptable for a white person to use makeup to darken their skin to appear to be a different race as part of a Halloween costume, but about two-thirds say this is rarely (23%) or never (41%) acceptable. Older whites are more divided, with roughly four-in-ten of those ages 30 and older saying this is acceptable at least sometimes, and about half or fewer in each group saying this is rarely or never acceptable.
Acceptance of blackface also is more common among whites without a college degree. While 44% of whites with some college or less education say this is always or sometimes acceptable, 28% of whites with at least a bachelor’s degree say the same.
More than one-in-five voting members (22%) of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are racial or ethnic minorities, making the 116th Congress the most racially and ethnically diverse in history. There has been a long-running trend toward more racial and ethnic diversity on Capitol Hill: Each of the previous four Congresses broke the record set by the Congress before it.
Overall, 116 lawmakers today are nonwhite (including blacks, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans), according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Congressional Research Service. This represents an 84% increase over the 107th Congress of 2001-03, which had 63 minority members.
Although recent Congresses have continued to set new highs for racial and ethnic diversity, they have still been disproportionately white when compared with the overall U.S. population. Nonwhites make up 39% of the nation’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. (For this analysis, Hispanics are included in the Census Bureau estimates for the share of each racial minority group in the overall population.)
In the House of Representatives, however, some racial and ethnic groups are now on par with their share of the total population. For example, 12% of House members are black, about equal to the share of Americans who are black. And Native Americans now make up 1% of the House, equal to their 1% of the population.
Other nonwhite groups in the House are somewhat less represented relative to their share of the population. The share of Hispanics in the U.S. population (18%) is twice as high as it is in the House (9%). Asians account for 6% of the national population but 3% of House members.
The increase in minority representation in the House has largely come among newly elected Democrats. Of the 22 freshman representatives who are nonwhite, just one is a Republican (Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who is Hispanic).
Nine senators are a racial or ethnic minority, unchanged from the 115th Congress. Four senators are Hispanic, three are Asian and three are black. (Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is black and Asian). There are no nonwhite freshman senators.
In the full 116th Congress, the overwhelming majority of racial and ethnic nonwhite members are Democrats (90%), while just 10% are Republicans.
Non-Hispanic whites make up 78% of voting members in the new Congress, considerably larger than their 61% share of the U.S. population overall. And despite the growing racial and ethnic diversity of Congress, this gap has widened over time: In 1981, 94% of Congress was white, compared with 80% of the U.S. population.
This analysis includes a few members who are counted under more than one racial or ethnic identity. In addition to Harris, Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., is counted as both black and Asian. Reps. Antonio Delgado and Adriano Espaillat, both New York Democrats, are listed as black and Hispanic. Espaillat, the first Dominican American elected to Congress, self-identifies as a Latino of African descent. Portuguese American members are not included in the Hispanic count. In addition, one disputed seat in the House – North Carolina’s 9th District – is not included in the total number of voting seats.
Note: For analyses of previous Congresses, see our earlier posts:
The share of Americans who say stricter environmental laws and regulations are “worth the cost” has ticked up in recent years, with a significant shift coming among Republicans.
Today, 63% of U.S. adults say stricter environmental regulations are “worth the cost,” while 30% say such regulations “cost too many jobs and hurt the economy,” according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. Two years ago, the balance of opinion was narrower, as 59% said stricter environmental regulations were worth the cost, while 37% said they cost too many jobs.
Partisanship continues to be a major factor in opinions about tougher environmental laws, with Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents far more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners to view stricter laws and regulations as worth the cost.
But since 2017, the share of Republicans who take a positive view of stricter environmental laws has increased, from 36% then to 45% today. There has been little change in Democrats’ views in this period (77% then, 81% now).
Still, Republicans remain less supportive of stricter environmental laws and regulations than they were during the 1990s and much of the 2000s. In 2007, for example, 58% of Republicans said they were worth the cost.
Pew Research Center conducts public opinion surveys in the United States over the phone and, increasingly, online. But these two formats don’t always produce identical results. Respondents sometimes answer the same question differently depending on the format of the interview. This is known as a mode effect, and it’s a subject we’ve been studying for a few years now.
In our latest Methods 101 video, we look at mode effects in more detail and go over some of the ways in which survey answers can vary depending on whether respondents are talking to another person over the phone or filling out an online questionnaire by themselves.
People who regularly attend a house of worship are more likely to be happy and civically engaged than those who do not, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of 35 countries. Whether actively religious people also are healthier is less clear.
Conrad Hackett, associate director for research and senior demographer, discusses the reasons for undertaking the study, why the subject is an important one and some of the challenges associated with trying to determine if and how religion impacts people’s well-being.
How did this study come about?
It began with a challenging question from a journal editor at Science. My colleagues and I had submitted an article to the magazine that projected the future size of religiously unaffiliated populations. The editor came back to us and asked why he or anyone should care if people identify with a religion. And I realized then that there actually isn’t much research about how people with and without a religion vary on important outcomes like health, happiness, voting and volunteering. Sure, there’s research specifically linking frequent worship attendance with some socially desirable outcomes. But in the United States and other similar nations, most people don’t regularly attend religious services. And these non-attenders include many Christians and Jews, as well as people who don’t identify with a religion. I realized answering the Science editor’s question about the consequences of religious identity would require a study comparing the actively religious, the inactively religious and “nones” on various measures of well-being across a mix of countries. So that’s what we set out to do.
More than a century and a half after Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking thesis on the development of life, the subject of evolution remains a contentious one for Americans and, in particular, for those who are religious. But when it comes to exploring the views of highly religious groups – white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants – a new survey approach finds their responses vary depending on how the question is asked.
One approach in the Pew Research Center survey asked about evolution in a two-question “branched choice format.” First, survey respondents were asked if they believe humans have evolved over time. Those who said humans have evolved then branched to a second question which asked for their views about the processes behind evolution, including the role of God in those processes.
When asked this way, about two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants (66%) took a “creationist” stance, saying that “humans have always existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” consistent with past Center surveys using a branched choice format with somewhat different question wording.
But the results differed when the question was posed in single-question format to a random sample of respondents from the same survey. This approach asked about people’s views on whether or not human evolution has occurred, the processes behind evolution and the role of God in those processes together in one question. In this case, a 62% majority of white evangelical Protestants took the position that humans have evolved over time.
Similarly, 59% of black Protestants asked about this topic in the two-question format said humans have always existed in their present form. By contrast, with the single-question format, just 27% of black Protestants said this, while a 71% majority said humans have evolved over time.
Unauthorized immigrants make up a quarter of all U.S. foreign-born residents, but the share varies considerably among states. In 2016, they accounted for about a third of all immigrants in some states but fewer than one-in-ten in others, according to Pew Research Center’s recently released estimates.
The estimates also found notable differences among states in other measures, such as the share of unauthorized immigrants who are Mexican born, the share who arrived in the previous five years and the share of the labor force consisting of unauthorized immigrants.
The variations by state can be explored in a new interactive and downloadable series of a dozen maps and tables. Additional topics covered in the new maps and tables include the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants and change since 2007, their share of the population, the share of K-12 students with unauthorized immigrant parents and the top industries and occupations where unauthorized immigrants work. (Estimates are not available for states with smaller unauthorized immigrant populations because of the small sample sizes in the census survey data that are the basis for our numbers.)
Interactive: Unauthorized immigrants by state
Explore maps and tables showing detailed data on unauthorized immigrants across the country.
Also available is another previously released interactive graphic exploring population trends for states, birth countries and regions.
Republicans and Democrats have long held differing views about policy solutions, but throughout most of the recent past there was rough partisan agreement about the set of issues that were the top priorities for the nation.
However, that is less and less the case. Republicans and Democrats have been moving further apart not just in their political values and approaches to addressing the issues facing the country, but also on the issues they identify as top priorities for the president and Congress to address.
For more than two decades, Pew Research Center has tracked the public’s priorities, including in our most recent survey.
While many issues are considered high priorities by majorities in both parties today, there is virtually no common ground in the priorities that rise to the top of the lists for Democrats and Republicans.
About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.