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.
By comparison, 25% say they rely a lot on the advice of professional experts, and just 15% rely heavily on advice from religious leaders.
But while relatively few people look to religious leaders for guidance on major decisions, many Americans do turn to prayer when faced with important choices.This new report also draws on the national telephone survey but is based primarily on a supplemental survey among 3,278 participants in the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, a nationally representative group of randomly selected U. In addition, roughly seven-in-ten Christians say being grateful for what they have (71%), forgiving those who have wronged them (69%) and always being honest (67%) are essential to being Christian.Far fewer say that attending religious services (35%), dressing modestly (26%), working to protect the environment (22%) or resting on the Sabbath (18%) are essential to what being Christian means to them, personally.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?Simply put, those who those actions on a regular basis.For example, among Christians who say that working to help the poor is essential to what being Christian means to them, about six-in-ten say they donated time, money or goods to help the poor 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.For example, nine-in-ten people who are categorized as highly religious (91%) say religion is very important in their lives, and nearly all the rest (7%) say religion is at least somewhat important to them.By contrast, only three-in-ten people who are classified as not highly religious (31%) say religion is very important in their lives, and most of the rest (38%) say religion is “not too” or “not at all” important to them.