For Easter 2014 we thought it might be fitting to report on public opinion surrounding Jesus, the status of Christianity in America and faith, in general. What we have found may just shock you, whether you are on the right or left.
Americans of faith will celebrate Easter in memory of the supernatural resurrection of Jesus Christ, who proved to believers he was the son of God when he was crucified and rose from the dead.
Most Americans continue to believe Jesus was, in fact, the son of God and rose from the dead three days after his death on Easter Sunday. In a recent survey, a whole 89 percent of Americans say Jesus Christ actually walked the Earth roughly 2000 years-ago, with 69 percent saying he rose from the dead. Only 8 percent of Americans who responded in the survey say they don’t agree with the vast majority, which is in line with other pollsters.
Gallup found that, even though 15 percent claim no religious affiliation, just 9 percent of those respondents don’t believe in God. Despite cries from the New Atheists who say America is becoming more secular, the reverse is true.
During the 1980s and 1990s, a general trend showed a move away from God, particularly among Christian sects in America. However, those trends were never solid, as there was an uptick again in the mid-1990s. Yet new data show not only an arresting of those trends, but a reversal. For instance, according to a Gallup poll taken just before Christmas 2012, a whopping 77 percent of American adults said they are Christian, an uptick of several points from just four years before. Further, the number of those who said they were Protestant increased to 51.9 percent, which is a small downtick from the year prior, but an overall jump up from roughly 38 percent who said the same in 2008.
In part, as the Pew Hispanic Center found, Latinos who are converting from Catholicism or no religion at all have contributed, with the number of Hispanic Protestants increasing this year from the last by over 7 percent. Catholicism still remains the second largest Christian sect in America, with nearly a quarter — or 23.3 percent — of Americans saying they are Catholics. But, in total, 64 percent of Americans say they believe in the God of the Bible, literally speaking.
When we look at the polling data in totality, as I have in Our Virtuous Republic, we found a general distrust of religious institutions following several, seemingly back-to-back scandals that rocked various church sects, such as Jerry Falwell and Catholic molestation charges. Yet, Americans today or not significantly less likely to say God reflects their values or beliefs, while the claim that secularization is catching fire is widely overblown. Sure, secularization by the American left has made some progress, particularly in public policy. But that doesn’t mean the vast majority of Americans agree with it.
A survey conducted in June, 2013, found that a plurality of Americans – 41 percent – believe that the Supreme Court has been “Too Hostile Towards Religion” and inconsistent with our history, while just 15 percent reported they believe the rulings have been “Too Friendly.” Frank Newport, Gallup Editor-in-Chief, stated Gallup’s findings show that 75 percent in the U.S. say it would be positive for society if religion in American was more prevalent. Yet, 77 percent say they believe religion is losing its influence on American life.
A separate, yet similar, survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports, found a majority of Americans believe public schools have gone too far to remove God, and would favor more religious doctrine in education.
Religion, particularly the Judea-Christian sects, have had an enormous impact on the founding of this nation, including the recognition of Natural Law and principles found in our common law system. The North American continent became an attractive prospect for those who believed in Jesus Christ and the resurrection, but found in the New World what had previously been un-reachable; a society where enlightenment and liberty coexisted with the freedom to worship one’s God how they pleased.
As a result, Judea-Christian tenets and principles make up the very foundation of the American national identity, an identify that data clearly show will not easily be stamped out. And as the various surveys above show, nor will it be the case Jesus, or God generally speaking, will be stamped out anytime soon.
(To read and learn more about religion and America, and the psychological effects of religion on American society, check out Rich’s must-read book on American political philosophy, “Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract”)