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  • In Pictures: How Many Adults Believe in God?

    The vast majority of American adults hold a definite belief in God. Yet, despite this persistence of belief in America and the important place of religious practice in civil society, an increasingly narrow view of religion is threatening to force faith out of the public square.

    Consider the recent mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services that will require almost all insurance providers to cover contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and education and counseling regarding such services—without cost to the insured. The rule includes mandatory coverage of ethically controversial drugs like ella, which can act as an abortifacient.

    Employers with moral and religious objections to providing such insurance coverage will find little recourse in the mandate’s narrow religious exemption. While the mandate’s potential threat to employers’ religious freedom is already causing a stir in court rooms and in the nation’s capital, the struggle to protect conscience rights on morally divisive issues is sure to continue well into the future.

    As Heritage research fellow Ryan Messmore points out, the increasing hostility toward individuals and institutions acting according to deeply held beliefs is a gross misunderstanding of the place of religious belief:

    Efforts like these to restrict the scope of religious freedom go hand-in-hand with narrow, privatized notions of religion. Someone who sees religion solely as a spiritual matter is likely to view it as unrelated to other spheres of life.

    Relegating religious belief to the private square ignores the profound role faith plays in spurring people and organizations to good work and can hamper the protection of religious freedom. Messmore continues:

    According to this privatized view, only a small realm of acknowledged “religious” institutions and activities is deemed worthy of religious freedom protections. Praying and preaching seem to count, so pastors, churches, and monasteries typically enjoy freedom to do their work in accord with their beliefs. Other kinds of activity—like treating a sick patient, running a school, or growing a nonprofit—do not often fall within narrow understandings of “religious” activity.

    Also overlooked in this narrow view of religious belief is the profound effect that religious practice can have on family stability, child well-being, and a healthy civil society. As many FamilyFacts.org briefs on religious practice demonstrate, families who frequent religious institutions are more likely to enjoy lower levels of conflict, increased martial stability, and greater parental involvement.

    Likewise, teens who grow up in religious households and regularly practice their faith are at a decreased risk of using illicit drugs and engaging in sexual activity or experiencing teen pregnancy.

    Religious practice is even associated with better mental and physical health. Men and women who regularly practice their religion tend to have lower stress levels, are less likely to experience major depression or anxiety, and are at a decreased risk of dying from cancer.

    The profound importance of religious belief to individuals, family, and civil society should not be overlooked. The same religious belief that spurs countless individuals and institutions to provide education, health care, and a host of social services to communities across the country should not be banished from public life or service.

    Download the latest data, charts, and research briefs on family and religious practice at FamilyFacts.org. You can also stay updated on policy changes affecting the family and religious practice by subscribing to the DeVos Center’s weekly newsletter, Culture Watch.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to In Pictures: How Many Adults Believe in God?

    1. Chris says:

      Of course, this is done in the traditional INconsistent Lib fashion that passionately decries "legislating morality" and vocally protests "don't impose your morality on me" as they demand freedom of choice and conscience for themselves while simultaneously using the full legal/penal force of the Federal government to uncompromisingly mandate that their OWN version of morality must be imposed on the entirety of society without exception.

      In their ILlogic they experience absolutely no cognitive dissonance over these positions, since to do so would first require some level of cognition to take place. Sadly, emotion/feelings trump facts every time.

      • Cheryl says:

        I have raised 3 great kids, now 27, 26, and 20. All are college educated, believe in God and the ten commandments (which are really just common sense), highly moral and kind. None ever experimented with drugs, or gave me any other problems. And, I have never taken them to church. In my experience, church is where the wife-beaters and child molesters go to hide out and put up a good front. Churches have become political and financial institutions and so I no longer trust them. I was raised going to church every Sunday, but I no longer trust "the church".

    2. steve h says:

      Of course people with strong religious beliefs have less stress. Most of them believe in a happy afterlife where all their friends and families will be with them. All religious people are nuts in my opinion. Some Catholics look at Scientologists and Mormons and laugh about how crazy their stories are…but the Catholic stories are just as crazy. I think all religious folks all nuts to truly believe these stories, but who cares what i think – to each their own – if it makes them happy, and less stressed, and healtier and happier – then it's a good thing. As long as they aren't hurting anyone else, let people believe whatever they want.

      I do find it odd though the statement that religious folks have less conflict – as far as I know – religion may be the biggest reason for lot of the hurt that has happened in our world history – i mean, look at the millions slaughtered during the crusades.

      • Bobbie says:

        i meant "recollection" not "observation" regarding the crusades.

      • Jill Maine says:

        You are very wrong. Even Nietzsche said after he proclaimed the death of God that without God or belief in God the 20th century would be the bloodiest. And it was.

        I actually feel bad for you because you are blind to the truth. We who believe actually enjoy a relationship with our God. The world offers nothing that can compare with that.

      • Kenneth says:

        I take it you hate the fact that the United States went to war in WW2. Your view of history is skewed by your bigotry, which is common from the believers of your religion of atheism.

    3. winston says:

      63% are ignorant people

      • S. Hayes says:

        The middle position is intriguing. It's interesting to me what people are sure of, and what they are not sure of, and what they are sure they can't be sure of. They don't know if there is a God, but they know that there is no way to know if there is a God. It does seem a silly position to say there may be a God, but if there is, he has not provided any way for us to know. The revelation of God's reality is to each person individually and is a miraculous thing to each person who receives it. The Bible says that miracles follow them that believe. Thus, ignorance of God follow them that don't believe. And those are they who say that they know there is no way to overcome their own ignorance. On a personal level, they may be right, but they are not right in general. James says, if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally…. But, let him ask in faith…. That's how we know, and there is no other way to know. The experiment is duplicatable to everyone who tries the experiment according to the prescribed formula.

      • johnR warner says:

        The fear of the the Lord is what counts
        I have more understanding than my eachers is what
        the Bible states
        Can you say this?
        The Bible is the word of God
        Read it
        2 Timothy3:15
        John R Warner

      • Todd says:

        Steve H and Winston – I feel sorry for both of you.

    4. Kyle says:

      Steve,
      You may want to look into those subjects a little more. I would suggest Rodney Stark's recent survey of the crusades titled "God's Battalions." I would also suggest Bill Cavanaugh's "The Myth of Religious Violence." More often than not, when Christianity at least, has been associated with violence it is being coopted for more secular reasons such as power, political gain, etc.

    5. David says:

      So who made HHS God? Why is HHS regulating what coverage insurance companies are offering? If you, as a consumer, want coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, etc… then go find an insurance company that offers that package of "goodies". And what if I, as your employer, don't want to offer those goodies as part of the insurance package I am largely paying for? Where does HHS get the power to deny me that option? Another example of government further restricting my freedom by over regulating in the guise of doing good.

      • Cheryl says:

        If you're the employer, then you're the one choosing the insurance company. Therefore, in answer to your question, you, the employer, choose an insurance company that doesn't offer the "goodies".

        HHS isn't saying that insurance companies MUST supply those options, they are saying that an individual nurse, doctor, or pharmacist can't tell you you can't have the "goodies" if your employer's insurance plan does include them.

    6. John R Warner says:

      The most important thing you do every day is to read the Bible.pray,and meditat efor a world that needs hope found in trusting Jesus Christ
      John R Warner

    7. Lloyd Scallan says:

      There are two separate issues. Belief in God (or a supreme being) is one. The other is belief in religion. Religion is important to society in general. It has the effect of controling the masses. But too many organized religions preach from the pulpit of issues that that particular church may be championing on any given day. Many people that attend services do so to worship, not to listen to a particular priest or preacher spout his personal or the church's agenda. At the same time they ask or demand parishioners to "buy there way to haven". Being a member of any particular church is not necessary to have a deep belief in the existence in God and the two should not be commingled.

    8. S. Hayes says:

      After reflecting some more on many of your comments above, I see that many of you are skeptical of religion, and I think justly so. Religion has been used as the excuse, or maybe the whipping boy, for much of the world's conflicts. This is because much of the world is enthralled to false religion. And much of Christendom falls into that category on an individual and group basis. It's one thing to believe in the true God and be sincere and active in doing so. It's another to think that everyone is required to believe as we do at gunpoint. Islam is a case in gunpoint. The Christian world took this tack in the crusades. The Catholic Church did also in its repression of "heretics" from time to time. These are the examples that put people off all religion. It's easy to see why. True religion, truly practiced, does not produce evil. A person who truly believes is a zealot. A person who believes everybody ought to believe as he does at gunpoint is a fanatic. Many of the commentators above see the history of Christianity as "hooray for me, and to hell with you." I understand that has been the reality of practice in the past, but it is not the doctrine of the Christ. Jesus said, by their fruits ye shall know them. That is, what does a religion or its followers produce? Good or evil? Light or darkness?

      I often say that if God does not exist, then nothing matters. If he does exist, then it stands to reason that there must be some correct way of relating to him. And how can we know what that is unless he tells us? And how can he tell us unless we are asking and listening? If we're waiting to discover it by our own intellects, we're going to wait a long time. But to say, as one commentator does, that "religious" people are all nuts just because some of them clearly are, does not get him anywhere.

      We all know the difference between a well grounded, informed, intelligent Conservative and a right-wing lunatic bomb thrower. And there are all shades in between. It's the same with religious people. We're not all crazy intellectual light-weights with blinders on.

    9. Robert says:

      How then shall we live? What rules or ethics? In the history of mankind, I find none better than the Ten Commandments given to Moses, and Jesus Sermon on the Mount and the "Golden Rule." These are universal ethics given by the loving and just God who created us. Atheists Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot did away with these rules and murdered 150 million innocent people in just the last 75 years! And Mohammad also broke the divine rules of Moses and Jesus with Pillage and Rape and massacring another 100 to 200 million people in it's world conquest. People's hearts need to change and follow the simple rules of God's goodness and love. There are none better.

    10. I am always amazed, that people who claim intellectual enlightenment, point to the sinful nature of mankind as their proof of there being no God. To me this obvious sinful nature and the depths of depravity that humans, even religious humans, can achieve when left to their on value system, proves what a miracle it is when someone has been in contact with The Almighty (not religion) and recognizes the error of their ways and turns from their sin (repents). Why is there so much anger by intellectuals against anyone who seeks to improve their lives, by having faith in God? To the intellectual, they are their own god and they can not accept any being, higher than themselves. They are therefore responsible for the welfare of all peoples, animals and the planet itself. Since that is too great a burden they use ever expanding government as their tool to solve all problems which creates vast poverty by taking wealth, from the producers of wealth and jobs.

    11. I am always amazed, that people who claim intellectual enlightenment, point to the sinful nature of mankind as their proof of there being no God. To me this obvious sinful nature and the depths of depravity that humans, even religious humans, can achieve when left to their on value system, proves what a miracle it is when someone has been in contact with The Almighty (not religion) and recognizes the error of their ways and turns from their sin (repents). Why is there so much anger by intellectuals against anyone who seeks to improve their lives, by having faith in God? To the intellectual, they are their own God and they can not accept any being, higher than themselves. They are therefore responsible for the welfare of all peoples, animals and the planet itself. Since that is too great a burden they use ever expanding government as their tool to solve all problems which creates vast poverty by taking wealth, from the producers of wealth and jobs; whereby the masses earn their living. We used to have a saying for this: "Don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg." That is not a commentary on waterfowl laying metallic eggs.

    12. Stirling says:

      HHS is doing what this administration has done since day 1, which is to try to devide and sanatize religion from our country. The only way to push a "progressive" policy (Government Central Planning) is to separate us, rather then unite us (which religion does in our personal lives). Government ultimately wants to be your "God" by substituting itself for the real "God" which sustains us. It's similar to the green-movement putting the planet's importance (or animal rights) above that of it's people's individual freedoms to live their lives as they choose (God given rights). HHS can not achive it's goals in the end if people hold onto their beliefs because it's counter to how we are wired as a christian nation..

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