How to interpret religious leaders in the US, according to Pew survey

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life surveyed about 4,000 adults in the United States and Canada to determine which religions and other religious groups they consider to be part of their community.

The survey found that:About one-third of adults say they belong to one or more religions, and the majority of Americans (59%) say that their religion is “very important” to them, while the remaining are “somewhat” or “not at all” important.

About 1 in 10 adults say that religion is very important to them and one in five say they are “not too important” or not at all important.

The number of Americans who say they attend religious services at least once a week has increased over time, from about 1 in 5 in 1990 to 1 in 4 in 2010.

More than half of adults (54%) say they pray at least weekly, up from about one-quarter in 1990.

In contrast, more than a third (36%) say it rarely, and about one in 10 say they seldom or never pray at all.

The survey also asked respondents to rank their own religious affiliation and to describe their views of various aspects of their faith.

A majority of adults rank themselves as “very religious” (53%) or “slightly religious” in terms of their religious beliefs (48%).

The percentage who identify as “not religious” has increased to 18%, while a plurality of those who identify themselves as non-religious (32%) or as “spiritual” (31%) also report belonging to one of the religious groups.

A majority of all Americans identify as Christian (68%), followed by Muslims (65%), Jews (58%), Hindus (58%) and Buddhists (56%).

More than one in four Americans say they have no religious affiliation at all (27%), while about one out of three (33%) have no religion at all and have no definite religious affiliation.

About half of all U.S. adults (52%) have a strong sense of belonging to a particular religion.

About one in seven adults (13%) say their religion has a “great deal” of meaning to them.

About one in three (34%) say religion has less meaning to their lives than it used to.

More adults say their religious identity has changed significantly over the last decade (26%) than say they remained the same (17%).

More than one-fifth of Americans say that “religion has a very strong influence” in their lives, and an additional 16% say that they are highly or very religious.

About a third of adults have a “moderate” or very strong religious identity, with about one quarter of adults saying their religious affiliation is moderate or very important.

About a quarter of Americans have no clear religious affiliation, with the remaining three-quarters saying they have some level of religious identity that does not fit the religious definition.

About three-in-ten (30%) say there is no clear affiliation at the moment.

Religion has become more popular among younger Americans since the late 1990s, with more than half (56%) of all adults aged 18 to 34 say that at least one of their parents or a close friend is a Christian.

Roughly three-fourths of those in this age group say they do not identify as Christians.

About half of the adult population (47%) say religious belief is “important” to their personal lives, compared to just over a quarter (26) who say it is “not very important.”

More than three-fifths (63%) of U.K. adults and two-thirds (65%) of those living in the U.Y. are members of a religious group.

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