Pew Study Seen as Confirming US Religiosity, Bishop Notes Work of Priests and Catechists in Faith


WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 25, 2008 ( The U.S. bishops consider the findings from a Pew Study on religion and public life as confirmation that Americans are identified with religion.

Archbishop Donald Wuerl, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, responded to the results of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released Monday. The survey was conducted between May and August last year and is based on answers from more than 35,000 American adults.

The survey reveals a range of data, including adherence to religious tradition, and the link between frequency of worship and political views. It shows that a vast majority of Americans, nearly 92%, believe in God or a universal spirit.

"History testifies that religious faith is very important to Americans," Archbishop Wuerl noted. "At every juncture of our past, Americans have called upon God for guidance, protection and direction. There is a clear identification with religion in America which, for Catholics, reflects the dedicated efforts of priests, catechists and teachers in our history."

The Pew study also states that 74% of Americans believe in heaven and only 59% in hell. It reports that 63% believe Scripture is the word of God. Another 63% of respondents with children at home say they pray and read Scripture with their children and 60% send their children to religious education programs.
The study also concludes that most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith and that the majority of those affiliated with a religious tradition agree that there is more than one way to interpret the teaching of their faith.

Some 40% see a conflict between modern society and religion, with 42% saying Hollywood threatens their values.
Father Brian Bransfield, specialist in the bishops' Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, reflected on the numbers, saying "it is hard to quantify the tremendous thirst for truth among families and people of all ages, as demonstrated by the overwhelming response to the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States."

"This thirst is sometimes misdirected through the effects of secularism, with its focus on individualism and consumerism," he added, affirming that the Church's response in any case is an "ever renewed commitment to robust catechetical efforts."