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For comparisons of highly religious people with those who are less religious In this report, “highly religious” respondents are defined as those who say they pray daily and attend religious services at least once a week. As this report highlights, these standard measures of traditional religious practice do not capture the full breadth of what it means to be religious; many respondents also say attributes such as gratitude, forgiveness and honesty are essential to what being religious means to them, personally.Nevertheless, these two indicators (prayer and religious attendance) are closely related to a variety of other measures of religious commitment.
By comparison, fewer Christians who do see helping the poor as central to their religious identity say they worked to help the poor during the previous week (42%).
The same pattern is seen in the survey’s questions about interpersonal interactions, health and social consciousness.
By comparison, just three-in-ten Americans who are less religious gather as frequently with their extended families. adults describe themselves as “very happy,” compared with 29% of those who are less religious. However, in several other areas of day-to-day life – including interpersonal interactions, attention to health and fitness, and social and environmental consciousness – Pew Research Center surveys find that people who pray every day and regularly attend religious services appear to be very similar to those who are not as religious.
Roughly two-thirds of highly religious adults (65%) say they have donated money, time or goods to help the poor in the past week, compared with 41% who are less religious. For instance, highly religious people are about as likely as other Americans to say they lost their temper recently, and they are only marginally less likely to say they told a white lie in the past week.
The survey posed similar questions to members of non-Christian faiths and religiously unaffiliated Americans (sometimes called religious “nones”), asking whether various behaviors are essential to “what being a moral person means to you.” Among the unaffiliated, honesty (58%) and gratitude (53%) are the attributes most commonly seen as essential to being a moral person.
(Findings about non-Christians are discussed in more detail at the end of Chapter 2.) The survey shows a clear link between what people see as essential to their faith and their self-reported day-to-day behavior.
Chapter 3 reports on where members of various religious groups say they look for guidance when making major life decisions or thinking about tough moral questions.
On most of these questions, the report compares highly religious Americans with those who are less religious and also looks at differences among members of a variety of religious groups. adults are highly religious by this definition, while 70% are not.
Chapter 1 provides greater detail on how Americans from various religious backgrounds say they live their day-to-day lives.
Chapter 2 examines the essentials of religious and moral identity – what do Christians see as “essential” to what it means to be a Christian, and what do members of non-Christian faiths and religious “nones” see as essential to being a moral person?