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Use the Web Code found in your Pearson textbook to access supplementary online resources. Your web browser may be malfunctioning. Your internet connection may be unreliable. For more information about the W3C website, see the Webmaster FAQ. These four measures will be used in the next chapter as lenses through which to examine social and political attitudes within the religious traditions.
Just as the first report of the Landscape Survey detailed the remarkable diversity that exists in the religious affiliation of adults in the United States, the pages that follow document the great diversity the survey finds in the religious beliefs and practices of Americans. Many measures confirm that the United States is, indeed, a very religious country. The survey also finds considerable diversity within religious groups. For instance, Americans who are not affiliated with any religion often report having some specific religious beliefs and practices. For instance, a large majority of Americans who are affiliated with a religion, including majorities of most faith groups, say there is more than one religion that can lead to eternal life and more than one way to interpret the teachings of their faith.
Importance of Religion The Landscape Survey confirms how important religion is to most Americans. Religion is important even among a large segment of those who are unaffiliated with a particular religious group. The survey finds that women are significantly more likely than men to say religion is very important in their lives. In general, older adults are more likely than younger adults to say religion is very important in their lives. This pattern also holds across many religious traditions, but it is particularly strong among Catholics and members of mainline Protestant churches. For most religious traditions, however, there are only small differences in the importance of religion across different levels of education. Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of all three Protestant traditions.
There is significant variance, however, when it comes to the certainty and nature of people’s belief in God. At least nine-in-ten Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of evangelical and historically black Protestant churches say they are absolutely certain God exists. There are also differences in the way members of different religious traditions conceive of God. Mormons think of God as a person with whom people can have a relationship. God and view God as a person. God exists but think of God as an impersonal force rather than a person. Older Americans are considerably more likely than younger Americans to profess certain belief in a personal God.