Americans more 'spiritual' even if less religious, survey finds

Americans are becoming more spiritual although religion is on the decline, according to figures from Pew Research.


Religiosity has fallen in the US by standard indicators such as service attendance, prayer and how important individuals say religion is to them. However, the proportion of people who said they often feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being as well as deep wonder at the universe has risen.

This rise in spirituality is seen both in religious people and those who are not affiliated to a faith.

Among US Christians, between 2007 and 2014 there was a seven point increase in the number of people who said they felt a deep sense of wonder at the universe at least once a week.

Similarly, among those who didn't identify with a religion, there was a nine point increase.

However, interestingly there was a 17 point increase in self-described atheists who said they experienced a deep sense of wonder at the universe at least every week.

Pew Research Centre

As expected, religious people were generally more likely to say they had a deep sense of spiritual peace than those who were non-religious. Eighty-one per cent of Mormons and 75 per cent of evangelicals claimed to have a deep sense of spiritual peace at least once a week.

Although 40 per cent of the religiously unaffiliated said they experienced regular spiritual peace, this figure rose to 64 per cent of the religiously affiliated. Despite this anticipated discrepancy, there was a five point increase in spirituality among those with no religion.

These statistics on American spirituality follow a recent report that documented the decline in religious influence in Britain. "Living with Difference" has been derided by many faith commentators for its call for a "new settlement for religion and belief".

Sir Edward Leigh MP, president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, lambasted the report as "insidious".

"Great Britain is tolerant precisely because it is a Christian country," he wrote in an article for House Magazine. "If we banish religion from public life I fear we will become increasingly victim to a creeping conformist totalitarianism dressed in a therapeutic guise."