Americans Are Optimistic About Faith's Capacity to Improve Society; Survey Also Finds Americans Are Careful About Injecting Religion Into Politics

Apr 03, 2001, 01:00 ET from Public Agenda

    NEW YORK, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- As millions prepare to celebrate Easter
 and Passover, a recent survey reveals that most Americans are optimistic about
 the capacity of religion to improve contemporary society, although they are
 wary about directly injecting religion into the country's politics, according
 to "For Goodness' Sake: Why So Many Want Religion to Play a Greater Role in
 American Life," by nonpartisan, nonprofit Public Agenda.  The survey was
 conducted with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
     "For Goodness' Sake," comprised of over 100 questions, is comprehensive
 and probes how typical Americans think about religion in American life.
 
     Highlights include:
 
     Kids Benefit from Religion
     -- Majorities say if more Americans were to become more religious it's
        likely parents would do a better job of raising kids (85%).
 
     -- Sixty-nine percent say "more religion is the best way to strengthen
        family values and moral behavior."
 
     -- But 53% of Americans -- matched by 53% of evangelical Christians -- say
        that public schools should deal with the issue of prayer in the
        classroom by having a moment of silence, not through expressly
        religious prayer.  Majorities of  Jews, expressing greater concern, say
        they believe that school prayer embarrasses and isolates some students.
        Most nonreligious Americans agree.
 
     -- Just over half of Americans (52%) feel the public schools are often
        going overboard and taking the meaning out of holiday celebrations for
        most students by limiting the use of religious symbols during holiday
        celebrations.
 
     Other notable findings include:
 
     Discussing Religion at Work
     -- Six in ten Americans (60%) say people should bring up their religious
        beliefs at their workplace with coworkers only with care, while another
        30% say it is best to avoid the topic altogether.
 
     It's Wrong to Base Voting on Religion
     -- About six in ten Americans feel that when deeply religious elected
        officials vote on controversial issues such as abortion (57%), gay
        rights (60%) and the death penalty (60%), they should be willing to
        compromise with other elected officials whose views are different.
        However, evangelical Christians are more likely to say officials should
        vote based on their own religious views.
 
     The study is based on a national survey of 1,507 members of the general
 public, focus groups from across the country and consultations with experts on
 the topic of religion and public life.  It also reports the views of
 evangelical Christians, Catholics, Jews, and nonreligious Americans.
     Public Agenda, located in New York City, is well respected for its
 influential public opinion surveys and its balanced citizen education
 materials.  Media materials (including charts, a video, and the full press
 release) are available at:
 http://www.publicagenda.org/specials/religion/religion.htm.
     Reporters in the media may obtain an audio cassette or beta Video News
 Release with an approximately 3-minute interview with Deborah Wadsworth,
 president, Public Agenda, by contacting Public Agenda as specified below.
     For more information, a complete survey, or to schedule interviews, please
 contact Michael Darden, 212-686-6610 (tel.) or mdarden@publicagenda.org.
 
 

SOURCE Public Agenda
    NEW YORK, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- As millions prepare to celebrate Easter
 and Passover, a recent survey reveals that most Americans are optimistic about
 the capacity of religion to improve contemporary society, although they are
 wary about directly injecting religion into the country's politics, according
 to "For Goodness' Sake: Why So Many Want Religion to Play a Greater Role in
 American Life," by nonpartisan, nonprofit Public Agenda.  The survey was
 conducted with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
     "For Goodness' Sake," comprised of over 100 questions, is comprehensive
 and probes how typical Americans think about religion in American life.
 
     Highlights include:
 
     Kids Benefit from Religion
     -- Majorities say if more Americans were to become more religious it's
        likely parents would do a better job of raising kids (85%).
 
     -- Sixty-nine percent say "more religion is the best way to strengthen
        family values and moral behavior."
 
     -- But 53% of Americans -- matched by 53% of evangelical Christians -- say
        that public schools should deal with the issue of prayer in the
        classroom by having a moment of silence, not through expressly
        religious prayer.  Majorities of  Jews, expressing greater concern, say
        they believe that school prayer embarrasses and isolates some students.
        Most nonreligious Americans agree.
 
     -- Just over half of Americans (52%) feel the public schools are often
        going overboard and taking the meaning out of holiday celebrations for
        most students by limiting the use of religious symbols during holiday
        celebrations.
 
     Other notable findings include:
 
     Discussing Religion at Work
     -- Six in ten Americans (60%) say people should bring up their religious
        beliefs at their workplace with coworkers only with care, while another
        30% say it is best to avoid the topic altogether.
 
     It's Wrong to Base Voting on Religion
     -- About six in ten Americans feel that when deeply religious elected
        officials vote on controversial issues such as abortion (57%), gay
        rights (60%) and the death penalty (60%), they should be willing to
        compromise with other elected officials whose views are different.
        However, evangelical Christians are more likely to say officials should
        vote based on their own religious views.
 
     The study is based on a national survey of 1,507 members of the general
 public, focus groups from across the country and consultations with experts on
 the topic of religion and public life.  It also reports the views of
 evangelical Christians, Catholics, Jews, and nonreligious Americans.
     Public Agenda, located in New York City, is well respected for its
 influential public opinion surveys and its balanced citizen education
 materials.  Media materials (including charts, a video, and the full press
 release) are available at:
 http://www.publicagenda.org/specials/religion/religion.htm.
     Reporters in the media may obtain an audio cassette or beta Video News
 Release with an approximately 3-minute interview with Deborah Wadsworth,
 president, Public Agenda, by contacting Public Agenda as specified below.
     For more information, a complete survey, or to schedule interviews, please
 contact Michael Darden, 212-686-6610 (tel.) or mdarden@publicagenda.org.
 
 SOURCE  Public Agenda