Acton Institute Powerblog

The U.S. is far more religious than other wealthy nations

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Some countries are rich and some countries are religious. But the U.S. is the only country that has higher-than-average levels of both prayer and wealth, according to a new study by Pew Research.

In 101 other countries surveyed that have a gross domestic product of more than $30,000 per person, fewer than 40 percent of adults say they pray every day. As the survey notes, more than half of American adults (55 percent) say they pray daily, compared with 25 percent in Canada, 18 percent in Australia and 6 percent in Great Britain. (The average European country stands at 22 percent.) When it comes to our prayer habits, Americans are more like people in many poorer, developing nations—including South Africa (52 percent), Bangladesh (57 percent), and Bolivia (56 percent)—than people in richer countries.

And it’s not just prayer. Americans are more likely to attend weekly religious services and ascribe higher importance to faith in their lives than adults in other wealthy, Western democracies, such as Canada, Australia, and most European states.

Why are Americans both wealthy and religious? Pew notes that one idea popular among sociologists who study religion is that “America’s unregulated and open religious ‘market’—where different faiths compete freely for new members without government interference—has fostered fertile ground for religious growth.”

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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