Tuesday, July 23, 2013

America's Philosophical Divide

Here's an interesting way to look at what divides us: a new survey of religious beliefs combined with economic and social attitudes finds Americans falling into four philosophical camps:

38% religious moderates
28% religious conservatives
19% religious progressives
15% nonreligious

Not surprisingly, these four groups differ in size by political party. The 56 percent majority of Republicans, but only 13 percent of Democrats, are religious conservatives. Forty-five percent of Democrats, but only 11 percent of Republicans, are religious progressives or nonreligious.

There are big differences by generation as well. Only 17 percent of Millennials are religious conservatives versus 23 percent of Gen Xers, 34 percent of Boomers, and 47 percent of older Americans (aged 66 or older). Conversely, 45 percent of Millennials are religious progressives or nonreligious versus 33 percent of Gen Xers, 30 percent of Boomers, and just 22 percent of older Americans. These generational differences, says the report, "highlight the likelihood that religious conservatives will shrink as a proportion of the population, while religious progressives will maintain their share and the ranks of the nonreligious will grow."

Source: Public Religion Research Institute and The Brookings Institution, Do Americans Believe Capitalism and Government Are Working?

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