Religion Today recently posted the results of a survey of Americans’ understanding of the term, “religious.” Apparently the old divide between those who define religiosity based solely on faith and beliefs (historically Protestants) and those who take the concept to mean primarily a person’s good works (historically Catholics) persists.
The survey, carried out by the Public Religion Research Institute, measures religiosity by categorizing Americans in four groups: religious conservatives (28 percent), religious moderates (38 percent), religious progressives (19 percent) and the nonreligious (15 percent). And here’s how these various religious groups fell on the scale:
- White evangelical Christians fall overwhelmingly (70 percent) into the conservative category.
- About four in 10 white mainline Protestants (44 percent) and white Catholics (43 percent) are moderates, as are seven in 10 Hispanic Catholics and more than half of black Protestants (54 percent).
- The largest group of non-Christian religious people (42 percent) is classified as progressive.
- A strong majority of the unaffiliated (59 percent) are in the nonreligious sector.
Notably, the group I am most interested in these days (the “non-religious”) were far more likely than religious Americans to call economic inequality the most serious economic problem facing our country.