We Americans are very spiritual.
Fully 72 percent say their lives have meaning and purpose because of faith, according to a new Gallup Poll of 1,509 adults that was conducted with the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Research on Religion & Urban Civil Society. But as believers try to link their faith to everyday life, many admit there is a gap between what they believe and how they act.
Here are the results of the first annual Gallup poll to examine "The Spiritual State of the Union." The index has two components: Inner commitment gauges people's connection with God, a higher power, or divine will, while outer commitment looks at how they live out their inner commitment through service to others, their community, and society in general.
The nation's spiritual index: 74.7 percent (out of a possible 100 percent)
Average score for respondents' inner commitment: 79.8 percent
Average score for respondents' outer commitment: 69.5 percent
I agree completely that:
- The overall health of the nation depends a great deal on the spiritual health of the nation: 77 percent
- Life has meaning and purpose because of faith: 72 percent
- Faith is involved in every aspect of life: 60 percent
What is our faith?
- Christian: 80 percent
- Non-Christian: 6 percent
- No religious tradition: 13 percent
Of those who identified themselves as Christians, 76 percent agreed completely with the idea that all people, regardless of race, creed or wealth, are loved by God and therefore they should love all. However, only 44 percent said the notion that "God calls me to be involved in the lives of the poor and suffering" applies completely to them. "I think what that's telling us is that it's easy to believe something. It's harder to put it into play," The Rev. Scott Jones, a Tempe, Ariz., pastor who worked on the Gallup research, told Religion News Service.
Other findings regarding Christians who said they "agree completely" with these statements:
- Believe that God is actively involved in their life: 74 percent
- Find hope from their faith in Jesus Christ during a crisis: 67 percent
- No task is too menial if God calls them to do it: 58 percent
More than a third of Americans say they are spiritual, rather than religious. "Being labeled religious is not as popular as it was, I guess, in earlier years," said George Gallup when he presented the findings. They defined spirituality in several ways, including belief in God or a higher power or just seeking to be a good person and reach their fullest human potential.
"You really cannot understand America if you do not understand her spiritual underpinnings," Gallup said. "This survey makes that point, loudly and clearly."