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Religion, patriotism, kids becoming less important to Americans

American flag flies near church

University of College | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 03/28/23

Wall Street Journal survey finds that religious faith is "very important" to only 39% of people in the US.

In 1998, 62% of Americans said that religious faith was very important to them. Today, according to the Wall Street Journal, that figure has dropped precipitously – to 39%.

It’s one of several “traditional values” that have seen a dramatic loss among Americans, according to the Journal, which conducted a survey of Americans on values that are important to them. The newspaper conducted the poll along with NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan research organization. 

Other areas where there has been a decline, according to the survey, include:

  • Patriotism: 38% of respondents said it was very important to them, down sharply from when the Journal first asked the question in 1998, when 70% deemed patriotism to be very important.
  • Having children: 30% of respondents – 23% for adults under age 30 – said that having kids is very important to them. 
  • Religion: 29% said they are not religious at all. 32% said they never attend religious services, and 19% attend less than once a year. 9% said they do not believe in God, while 12% said they do not know if God exists. 21% identified as Roman Catholic. 12% said they are “nothing in particular.” 

The Journal concluded that the “priorities that helped define the national character for generations” are “receding in importance to Americans.”

On the other hand, the poll finds America “sharply divided by political party over social trends such as the push for racial diversity in businesses and the use of gender-neutral pronouns.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, “tolerance for others” is another characteristic that has taken a hit. Four years ago, it was very important for 80% of Americans. Today, that figure has fallen to 58%.

Bill McInturff, a pollster who worked on a previous Journal survey, said that “these differences are so dramatic, it paints a new and surprising portrait of a changing America.’’ 

But not altogether. The one priority that has grown in importance is money. In 1998, it was cited as very important by 31%. Today, it’s up to 43%.

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