Most Americans believe that religion should play a bigger role in society than it does now, unlike their counterparts in Europe and Canada, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.
The findings come from a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2018 when researchers asked over 30,000 people in 27 countries their views on gender equality, diversity, the role of religion and family ties.
Jacob Poushter, associate director for Global Research at the Pew Research Center, said the survey was intended to gauge how people are responding to social changes over the past two decades.
“What we wanted to do was try to figure out how people are responding to a changing world, he said.“We’ve been studying the concept of globalization and cultural change for almost two decades now at the Pew Research Center, and we’re interested in what aspects of change are apparent in people’s lives around the world and how does that affect how they think about these changes.”
Researchers asked whether people noticed the changes that had taken place over the past 20 years, and whether it was good or bad for people in their country.
Each random sample was nationally representative to reflect the composition of each country. About a thousand people from each country were surveyed.
More than half of those surveyed agreed that their country had become more diverse and that gender equality had increased. They also said that family ties had weakened — which they considered bad. The study showed that people perceive religion to have also lost influence.
There was a bit more variation though on whether religion should play a more important role in their societies.
Americans stood out from other countries — especially their North American neighbors in Canada and from Britons and other Europeans, in their desire for faith to have more influence on civic life.
When it came to diversity and gender, people from the United States had similar answers to people in Canada and in Europe. They said that both had increased and that they supported the changes. They also agreed that family ties had weakened. But Americans diverged from their Canadian and European peers on religion, saying it should play a bigger role.
Slightly more than half of Americans surveyed — 51% — said religion should have more influence on society, compared with only 37% of Canadians and 32% of Britons.
The younger generation — age 18-29 — was generally more in favor of diversity than older people. Those with a more conservative bent were less in favor of diversity. While those with more education thought diversity was a good thing.
In many countries men were more likely to say that gender equality had increased. Women’s views: not so much.
In the United States, researchers found some regional differences across the country. For instance, people inthe Western U.S. are more likely than people in the Midwest and South to say the country has become more diverse over the past 20 years.
Southerners are more likely than the rest of the country to favor a more important role for religion.