A new Gallup poll finds that a majority of Americans are very or moderately religious, a statistic that bodes well for individual well-being and the health of civil society.
The study found that four in 10 Americans believe that religion plays an important role in their daily lives and frequently attend religious services. In total, over two-thirds of Americans remain moderately or very religious, meaning they consider religion at least somewhat important or regularly attend worship services.
Regular religious observance can have a positive impact on adolescent behavior, teen academic achievement, and maintaining an intact, married family. As research on Heritage’s FamilyFacts.org points out, teens who regularly practice their faith are at a decreased risk of using illicit drugs and engaging in sexual activity and tend to complete more years of schooling. Families who frequent worship services are more likely to enjoy lower levels of conflict, increased marital stability, and greater parental involvement. Religious belief and practice can even have a positive impact on adults’ mental and physical health, decreasing major depression and lowering cancer mortality risks.
In addition, those who regularly attend religious services are more likely to volunteer and make charitable donations.
Despite the positive effects of religious belief, recent government mandates and actions are increasingly antagonistic towards this role of faith in the public square. The Obama Administration persists in making divisive policies that ignore the importance of religious belief to American society, from arguing against religious hiring rights to limiting conscience protections to assaulting the religious liberty of Good Samaritans to work in accordance with their deeply held beliefs.
Policymakers and national leaders should recognize the profoundly important role of religious belief and practice for sustaining families, increasing well-being, and promoting a robust civil society. Protecting the freedom of individuals and organizations to live out their faith in public ways—not trampling religious liberty through coercive government dictates—can ensure that more people enjoy the benefits of religious practice.